Head north this Labor Day weekend to discover new outdoor adventures in upper East Tennessee.
Located in Unicoi County near Johnson City, Rocky Fork State Park is Tennessee’s newest state park, receiving the designation in 2012 and opening in 2015.
Rocky Fork is 2,058 acres of scenic wilderness in the southern Appalachian Mountains offering nearly 20 miles of marked hiking trails with great views of the Southern Appalachian Forest and direct access to the Appalachian Trail. Ranging from easy to strenuous, these trails offer the highest-elevation overlook in any Tennessee State Park and opportunities to discover numerous cascades and waterfalls. There’s a lot to explore and examine in this biologically diverse habitat, said to be one of the most diverse in North America. Keep your eyes peeled for wild, medicinal plants and wildflowers and rare, lungless salamanders.
Ambitious mountain bikers can challenge themselves on the 15 miles of marked mountain-biking trails inside the state park boundary that provide access to 8,000 acres of remote, unmarked and unsigned logging roads.
Another northeast hidden gem is the Tweetsie Trail, a seven-mile stretch of “rail-to-trail” along the abandoned ET&WNC Rail Line that links Johnson City and Elizabethton. The railroad and its trains were unofficially yet affectionately known as the “tweetsie” because of the unique sound of the locomotive whistle. The unique trail offers flat grade trails great for walking, hiking, running or biking, in a beautiful, natural setting.