East Tennessee Outdoors: Top 10 Best Hikes in East Tennessee – Part 1

Published 1:08 am Tuesday, April 7, 2020



With the spread of the Coronavirus, people all over east Tennessee are searching for a way to get out of the house while staying away from people. They are learning something I have known for a long time – the solitude of the forest can calm a troubled soul.

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With that in mind, I have listed the 10 best trails in our area. Some can be walked by beginners, while others will make an experienced hiker cry. Choose one, lace up those boots and get moving on any one of these great outdoor experiences.

10. Blue Hole Falls Trail

Let’s start with an easy one. The Blue Hole is a beautiful waterfall located just off Highway 91 in Stoney Creek. The trail is steep, but is only .5 miles long and will only take about 20 to 30 minutes to walk.

Stop and enjoy the scenery or take a dip in the ice-cold water of the Blue Hole. This is a very enjoyable trail for almost any age. (Easy)

9. Mountain River Trail

The Mountain River Trail begins at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park and winds its way beside the Watauga River for almost one mile. It is a short, easy walk and even has places where the hiker can stop and fish.

You can hike this trail in 25 minutes and not break a sweat and it is perfect for a hike with children. (Easy)

8. Round Balds Trail By the Appalachian Trail

The Round Bald sets at the peak of the Appalachian Mountains next to the Roan Mountain. When you walk this trail, you may find yourself at 5800 feet or higher but the walk is well worth it.

It is a short trail that only stretches for about 1.5 miles and even though the trail has some hills, you can walk it in less than an hour. This is another one of those trails that the entire family will enjoy because it is well marked and a fairly short hike.

Just remember the weather up there can be unpredictable so bring a rain jacket and dress warm. (Easy)

7. Laural Falls Trail By the Appalachian Trail

Located in Hampton, just off Highway 321, is the trailhead for the Laurel Falls Trail. This is a moderate walk that will take you up the mountain to Laurel Fork Falls.

The walk is almost three miles and may take you from 1.5 to two hours to hike. The trail can be slippery after and during rains and is a little harder than some of the trails we have already listed so be careful with your footing on this trail.

Every year someone breaks a leg or ankle hiking this trail because they underestimate the hike so respect the trail and dress in good hiking boots. Also, this is one of the most popular trails in the region, so if you expect to have the forest to yourself, you will not find it here.

Overall, it is a good walk, and the Laurel Fork Falls is worth the effort. (Moderate)

6. Appalachian Trail from Hughes Gap to Carver’s Gap 

This trail is not for the faint of heart but is one of my favorite trails. The trail climbs from Hughes Gap on Cove Creek Road in Roan Mountain up to Carver’s Gap at the Tennessee/North Carolina Stateline.

During the hike, you will climb almost 2000 feet in elevation on a trail that seems to go forever. You will see a wide variety of plants as the elevation changes until you get to an almost treeless landscape that is the Roan.

This trail is almost seven miles and will take you five hours to complete and even longer if you are not in good hiking condition. (Hard)

Hiking is one of the joys of life and the perfect way to break the Coronavirus blues. We will list the five best hikes in east Tennessee next time in East Tennessee Outdoors.