Going to School in Knoxville
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House Mountain is a 500-acre natural area located in Knox County approximately eight miles from Knoxville. It is cooperatively managed under a lease agreement with the State by the Knox County Department of Parks and Recreation. The 2,100-foot crest of House Mountain provides significant vistas where visitors may scan the parallel ranges of the Unakas and Cumberlands some 30 miles away, or look northeast at the adjacent Clinch Mountain, and across the valley where the Trail of the Lonesome Pine may some day lead north into Virginia.
House Mountain is a favorite place for birdwatchers. Migrating hawks and warblers can be observed from the mountain. Ruffed grouse, pileated woodpeckers, scarlet tanagers, wild turkeys, and more than one hundred additional species of birds have been observed on the mountain.
Driving Time: From downtown Knoxville 16.3 miles; 23 minutes each way; does not include stops
Knoxville to Bulls Gap Loop
This 140-mile drive explores the valley of the Holston River, visiting small communities and towns that figured in the early history of Tennessee. The Holston River travels southwest through the Great Valley of East Tennessee to its confluence with the French Broad, where the two streams combine their waters into the Tennessee River. Cherokee Dam on the Holston backs up Cherokee Lake, which is encompassed by the route of this drive. This loop traverses the rural countryside along the Holston and passes through historic communities. Along the way, you can sample mineral water, learn about a flying machine that predates the Wright Brothers, and take a side trip to visit Melungeon country. Special Attractions: New Market, Jefferson City, Panther Creek State Park, Morristown, Crockett Tavern, Bulls Gap, Tate Springs, Rutledge, House Mountain State Natural Area, historic homes and buildings, scenic views, fall color, hiking, biking, boating, fishing, and wildlife viewing.
Driving Time: From downtown Knoxville 58.9 miles; 1 hour, 6 minutes each way ; does not include stops
Knoxville to Clingmans Dome
Drive through the quieter side of the Smoky Mountains through Townsend, TN, stopping at one of a number of great mom-and-pop restaurants for lunch. You will then travel down Little River Road from Townsend to Sugarlands Visitor Center at the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is worth stopping at the center to see the exhibits and enjoy the gift shop. Upon existing the center, you will turn left on Little River Road then make an immediate right turn onto Highway 441 (Newfound Gap Road). At 4.5 miles you will arrive at the Chimneys Picnic Area where you can enjoy sitting by the mountain river and listening to the sounds of rushing waters. Your next stop will be at the Chimneys Trail, 2.5 miles past the picnic area. The hiking trail is moderately difficult and is 4 miles round trip. If you aren't up to hiking, at least take the trail entrance to the bridge where you will find one of the most beautiful scenes in the Smokies. As you continue your drive along Hwy 441 there are a number of pullovers where you can enjoy mountain vistas. From the Chimneys Trail, you will drive 5.9 miles to Newfound Gap where you will find excellent photography opportunities. From Newfound Gap you will drive 7 miles on Clingmans Dome Road to the top of the mountain.
View a magnificent sunset and beautiful mountain vistas at the base of Clingmans Dome. Climb to the highest point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Clingmans Dome, a 54-foot observation tower offers spectacular views of both the North Carolina and Tennessee side of the Smokies. The Appalachian Trail crosses Clingmans Dome which marks the highest point along its 2,144 mile journey.
Driving Time: From Pellissippi Parkway at Northshore Dr. in Knoxville; 90 minutes each way; does not include stops
Rocky Top Trail
Get to know the spirit of Appalachia on the Rocky Top Trail when you explore the culture, history and beauty of this region through its world-class attractions and “best-kept secret” spots outside the city limits.
From serious adventurers to shutterbugs and picnickers, the natural attractions provide something for everyone. You’ll visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, explore an underground world, take a wildflower hike and see firsthand why this magical landscape draws nature-lovers from around the globe.
Bring your appetite for Southern cuisine; enjoy a meal overlooking an apple orchard or a scenic lake, get an old fashioned soda at a classic diner, eat lunch with a side of live music or make a reservation for fine dining, Rocky Top style. Experience East Tennessee’s amazing stories when you tour stately homes and museums, get a glimpse into early 20th century mountain life, walk through settlers’ forts and stroll vibrant historic districts. From the 1700s to the Civil War and coal mining, this trail’s legends are complex and fascinating.
From start to finish, You’ll have plenty of opportunities to experience and appreciate how history and the arts come together as you visit crafts communities, artist studios and unique shops along the way.
Find the best of Tennessee on the Rocky Top: Smoky Peaks to Crafts & Creeks Trail.
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Sunny Side Trail
Experience a drive through Smoky Mountain backroads and lush Appalachian countryside, through small towns brimming with history and attractions bursting with adventure. Maybe you find your thrills at amusement parks, or maybe it’s the thrill of a shopping hunt that gives you a charge. And if you love exploring the unique, one-of-a-kind places and roadside attractions that make up the fabric of Tennessee, you’ll love finding gems like the childhood home of Dolly Parton or an authentic drive-in movie theater. It’s all here - all you need is a full tank of gas.
Sunny Side explores Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg like you’ve never seen them, highlighting artists committed to preserving the region’s arts and crafts, as well as showcasing master carpenters and brick masons from our past. You’ll also learn how these crafts helped sustain the area’s economy and shaped its culture dating back to the early 1900s. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to observe, appreciate and even take home a piece of this Appalachian craft heritage that draws visitors to East Tennessee each year.
Trace Tennessee’s roots all the way back to its first town, Jonesborough, where the tradition of storytelling is celebrated and preserved. And tucked away in the corner of the state is Bristol, the birthplace of country music. Learn how the banjos and ballads of the backwoods made their way from the front porch to center stage.
To connect with a piece of East Tennessee’s unspoiled natural beauty, don’t miss five state parks, a national forest and the country’s most visited national park: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, along your route. Just as the frontier towns are inviting and charming, getting off the beaten path - sometimes way off - gives you an experience that is pure Tennessee.
Sunny Side shows you the best of what Northeast Tennessee has to offer, from the attractions you’ve heard about for years to the restaurants you can’t believe you’ve found. Visit our historic churches, our cemeteries, our town halls and our main streets. Whether you’re looking for antiques, adventure or just a trip you’ll be talking about for years to come, you’ll find it when you keep on the Sunny Side.
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Find your next adventure on the Top Secret Trail, a journey through some of East Tennessee’s beautiful scenery and best-kept secrets. You’ll start your trip in Knoxville, then set off into the Upper Cumberland Plateau and the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, where you’ll explore the area’s culture, marvel at the landscape, and sample some home cooking.
Visit fascinating towns, from the “Secret City” of Oak Ridge and its atomic mysteries to Harriman and Rugby, both built on the principles of their founders. Enjoy the historic character of the town squares, general stores, and local museums on the route. Appreciate the Appalachian heritage exhibited in the region’s arts and crafts, and tap your toes to the sweet sounds of Americana Music flowing from venues and shops along the way. You’ll also learn about coal mining and how desegregation in the 1960s played out in the rural mid-South.
With natural areas and nine state parks, this trail is an outdoor adventurer’s dream. You’ll find back-to-nature activities for every type of traveler, from picnics with a view to challenging hikes through the foothills; peaceful scenic drives to rugged off-road ATV trails. You’ll also encounter hundreds of miles of shoreline for fishing, hiking and boating along three of East Tennessee’s most famous lakes: Norris, Watts Bar and Dale Hollow.
There’s something for everyone on the Top Secret Trail, just waiting to be discovered.
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White Lightning Trail
Get ready for White Lightning - 200 miles of unique American stories told every day through Appalachian arts and crafts, preserved buildings and sites, historic town squares and the tales of legendary characters.
The trail gets its name from the area’s history as a prohibition-era, Moonshine-Running Corridor. Rebels careened around the curves of "Thunder Road," transporting illegal, homemade corn whiskey under the cover of darkness.
More History-Changing Pioneers made their marks along this route. As you cruise through rolling hills and valleys, you'll be traveling along the path first cut by Daniel Boone himself. You'll walk with the ghosts of Civil War soldiers and coal miners, visit forts that protected the territory's first settlers and see the school where the Clinton 12 stood their ground in the name of civil rights.
And speaking of legends, no Tennessee trip would be complete without a little Musical Heritage. Visit the hometowns of country music's Roy Acuff, Chet Atkins, Kenny Chesney and Carl Smith.
Your drive takes you along parts of a National Scenic Byway: East Tennessee Crossing, with unforgettable views from the overlook atop Clinch Mountain. The Beautiful Bodies of Water you'll encounter have shaped the region's landscape and culture for hundreds of years and today attract outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds.
So buckle up, there's adventure at every turn on the White Lightning: Thunder Road to Rebels Trail.
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