Tennessee offers a wealth of wonderfully diverse landscapes, including rolling hills, wildflower meadows, rugged mountains, hardwood forests, and river valleys, that continuously change with the seasons and serve as a home to many native animals and migrating birds. To help you discover some of the greatest hikes in Tennessee, we've consulted Trails.com and the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation to highlight five of the most beautiful on-foot adventures from the Great Smoky Mountains in the east to the Mississippi River plains in the west.
Alum Cave Trail
The Alum Cave Trail leads hikers on a 5-mile journey through old-growth forests to a rocky outcrop that sits jut below the summit of Mount Le Conte. Geological points of interest along this popular trail include Arch Rock and the Alum Cave Bluffs, and hikers are treated to scenic views of the Alum Cave Creek and valley below.
Radnor Lake State Park
More than six miles of trails allow hikers to explore Radnor Lake State Park, a 1,332-acre Class II Natural Area renowned for its superb native wildlife viewing opportunities and ecological diversity. In addition to Radnor Lake's shoreline, dense oak forests, fertile hollows, and the highest hills in the Nashville area are open to hikers.
Abrams Falls Trail
A 2.5-mile trail leads hikers to Abrams Falls, a rushing waterfall that stands about 20 feet tall in the Cades Cove valley area of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Hikers traverse a wooden footbridge, thick pine-oak, hemlock, and rhododendron forests, seasonal wildflower fields, and slippery rocks around Abrams Creek on their way to the falls.
You can hike for 94 miles of the Appalachian Trail within Tennessee's borders, and another 160 miles along the state line of North Carolina. In the High Country area, you'll traverse the tallest mountains of the entire Appalachian Trail, with highlight sights including the summit of Clingmans Dome, Davenport Gap, and Spivey Gap.
Mounds Great Outer Loop Trail
Hikers get to see 15 ceremonial mounds, including Mound 31, Ozier Mound, and the Twin Mounds, at Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park on the 2.5-mile Mounds Great Outer Loop Trail. This hiking trail loops through the 1,200-acre site and connects to several shorter trails that run through the park.