The Appalachian Trial in Tennessee crosses the Cherokee National Forest starting just south of Damascus, VA and ending near the western section of Fontana Dam in North Carolina. The Tennessee segment is approximately 70 miles long, however it is on or near the border of North Carolina for over 200 miles with some of the highest ridge lines on the AT.
A few of Northeast Tennessee's highlights include:
Iron Mountain and the Watauga Lake trail runs along the crest of the Iron Mountain Range and provides sensational lake and mountain vistas. At the southern end of Iron Mountain lies the parallel crests containing the Big and Little Laurel Valleys. Northeast of Watauga Lake Road hikers will come upon am 8 foot monument. The monument with a cracked plaque reads 'Uncle Nick Grindstaff - Born Dec. 26, 1851 - Died July 22, 1923 - Lived Alone, Suffered Alone, Died Alone.' Nick was a hermit tried to seek his fortune out west, returned and at age 26 took to the Iron Mountain range and lived a hermit the rest of his life.
Roan Mountain, a place of wild beauty, history and legend. The Roan is known for being the largest grassy bald of the of the southern Appalachian's, and in summer one of the most beautiful Catawba rhododendron showings in the world. This segment follows what is considered the oldest mountains in the world, and the oldest rock, but also houses the highest shelter on the AT. Regarded as a moderate hike it will guide you to two high knobs, excellent views, and several different habitats.
The AT crosses many roads, thus providing ample opportunity for hikers to hitchhike into town for food and other supplies. Many trail towns are accustomed to hikers passing through, and thus many have hotels and hiker-oriented hostels. Some of the most well known trail towns in our area are Hot Springs, North Carolina; Erwin, Tennessee and Damascus, Virginia. When the trail wanders close to these towns, many hikers may find an unforeseen surprise known as "trail magic”. Trail magic is sometimes left anonymously and may come as gifts, acts of kindness, unexpected blessings, food or iced drinks.
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