April 16, 2014 - 00:10
Cherokee National Forest
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The Cherokee National Forest has some of the most magnificent scenery anywhere on earth, no matter what the season, from delicate spring wildflowers to extravagant fall colors. The mountains and valleys are dotted with picturesque rivers, streams and waterfalls. Recreation opportunities include hunting and fishing, camping, hiking, biking, swimming, whitewater boating, and pleasure driving.

The Cherokee National Forest encompasses 650,000 acres stretching along the eastern border of Tennessee from Chattanooga to Bristol. The portions in Polk, McMinn and Monroe counties lie in the heart of the Tennessee Overhill and contribute to its beauty, history, and recreation opportunities.  National Forest land is managed to provide a delicate balance between various uses.

The Cherokee National Forest has some of the most magnificent scenery anywhere on earth, no matter what the season, from delicate spring wildflowers to extravagant fall colors. The mountains and valleys are dotted with picturesque rivers, streams and waterfalls. Recreation opportunities include hunting and fishing, camping, hiking, biking, swimming, whitewater boating, and pleasure driving.

The Cherokee National Forest has a cooperative agreement with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) for the management of fish and wildlife. The entire Forest is considered a Wildlife Management Area. Hunting and fishing regulations, season lengths and bag limits are set by TWRA. Hunting opportunities exist for deer, boar, squirrel, grouse, and turkey.  Fishing is extremely popular in the 500 miles of cold- water streams found in the Forest, with native and stocked trout being favorite targets in the Hiwassee River, Tellico River, and surrounding small streams.

Approximately 11 % of the Cherokee National Forest is designated as wilderness. These areas are set aside to provide a biological benchmark for present and future generations. Recreation activities such as hiking, backpacking, hunting, etc are allowed in these Wildernesses. The major restrictions are that motorized vehicles and mechanical devices, timber harvesting and related development activities are not allowed inside wilderness boundaries.

Camping is permitted nearly everywhere in the Forest, unless an area is otherwise posted. There are more than 30 developed campgrounds and 45 day use sites in the Forest. The fees for developed areas vary and are posted at facility entrances. The  developed site recreation season varies from year to year with many  areas opening in April & May and closing in late October. For information concerning specific dates and prices, please call the nearest Ranger Station.


Especially Scenic Drives

• Hiwassee River Road: TN Hwy. 30/FS Road 108. Scenic Hwy. 30 follows the Hiwassee River for much of the way. Cross the bridge and take F.S. Road 108 to climb the mountain to Big Bend and Apalachia Powerhouse for spectacular views of the river.

• Ocoee Scenic Byway: U.S. Hwy. 64 and F.S. Road 77 – 26  miles of highway that winds along the Ocoee River, Lake Ocoee (Parksville Lake), and up to the Chilhowee Campground via FS 77. The Byway passes through scenic areas dominated by rock bluffs, mountain peaks, and historic sites such as the TVA flume line and powerhouses, Confederate Camp and Old Copper Road. Panoramic views abound, particularly from Chilhowee overlooks and Boyd Gap.

• Tellico River Road: Hwy. 165 to F.S. Road 210. This route follows the Tellico River up to Bald River Falls, where you can park to view the falls. Near the end of F.S. 210 is the Pheasant Fields Fish Rearing Pools.

• Cherohala Skyway:  Hwy. 165 winds through the Forest to Indian Boundary Lake and Campground, then continues to Stratton Gap at the Tennessee/North Carolina line, where the Skyway begins, linking Tellico Plains, TN with Robbinsville NC.



Day Use Areas

(Fees are required at many day use sites.)

BUCK BALD OVERLOOK: Historic fire-tower site located off TN Hwy 68, offers a panoramic view of the Cherokee NF in Tennessee and the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina. The Buck Bald Overlook is equipped with picnic tables.

HIWASSEE RIVER: 19 picnic sites along the corridor – Hood Mountain, fully handicapped accessible area on road going to powerhouse; Powerhouse and Towee Creek launch areas provide access to the river for boats and tubes. The John Muir National Recreation Trail follows this recreation corridor. The Hiwassee is designated as a State Scenic River. Recreational opportunities include fishing, canoeing, tubing, hiking, and picnicking. Take Hwy 30 from Hwy 411 or 64.

INDIAN BOUNDARY: Swimming beach, bike trail, fishing, picnicking, and watchable wildlife. Trail around Indian Boundary Lake. From Hwy 68 in Tellico Plains, turn onto Hwy 165 east for 14 miles to Indian Boundary sign at FS 345 then go approximately 1.5 miles.

JOHN MUIR TRAIL: Designated as a National Scenic Trail, running along the banks of the Hiwassee River for Nearly 20 miles. Trailhead parking is available at Childer’s Creek, Big Bend, Towee, Apalachia Powerhouse and Hwy 68.

KING SLOUGH BOAT RAMP: Boat launch site on the south side of Lake Ocoee (Parksville Lake). Vault toilets.

MAC POINT (O): Beach and picnic sites on Lake Ocoee (Parksville Lake.) Activities: swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking. Drinking water and flush toilets are available. Located on US Hwy 64 on Parksville Lake.

OCOEE WHITEWATER CENTER. Regional tourist information, kayaking, hiking, biking, picnicking, restrooms. For more information, 423-496-5197.

POWERHOUSE (H): Boat launch site on Hiwassee River with carry down access. Toilet facilities. 

PARKSVILLE BEACH: Grassy beach area and bath house on Lake Ocoee (Parksville Lake.) Located off US Hwy 64 just west of the Hwy 30 turnoff.

PARKSVILLE LAKE BOAT RAMP: Boat launch site on Lake Ocoee. Vault toilets.

SPRING CREEK SHOOTING RANGE: This facility was designed to provide for pistol, rifle and shotgun target use.  Range is open during daylight hours only - Closed on Tuesdays for maintenance and law enforcement use.  Turn off  Hwy 411 on to Spring Creek Road toward the Hiwassee Ocoee Scenic River Park Office and  travel 5.4 miles on FDR 27 to the shooting range.   Spring Creek Road/FDR27 turns to gravel just after you pass the State Park Office and Gee Creek Campground. There is a sign on Hwy 411 directing you to the State Park Office.

STARR MOUNTAIN HORSE TRAIL COMPLEX:  20 miles of trails provide short day trips or overnight rides. Unloading and staging area at Lost Corral, across from Gee Creek State Campground.  A 20 site equestrian campground is located at Lost Corral.  Featured trails in the system include Starr Mountain Horse Trail #120, across the crest of Starr Mountain, or Chestnut Mountain Horse Trail #63 and 104 that winds along the border of Gee Creek Wilderness.

WALNUT GROVE PICNIC AREA: From TN 68 turn onto Hwy 165 east in Tellico Plains. Follow approximately 5.5 miles, then right onto FS 210. Go approximately 6 miles to Bald River Falls, the picnic area is approximately 1-2 miles beyond the Bald River Falls on FS 210. 

DAM CREEK PICNIC AREA is approximately 6.5 miles beyond Bald River Falls.  Follow above directions to  Bald River Falls – Walnut Grove.


(For the latest campground fee information contact the nearest Ranger Station.)

BIG OAK: 8 sites. Open year- long. From TN 68 turns onto Hwy. 165 East in Tellico Plains, Follow approximately 5.5 miles, then turn right onto FS 210 for approximately 16.5 miles

CHILHOWEE: 86 Campsites / 18 picnic sites on top of Chilhowee Mountain at McKamy Lake.  Sites are first come, first served basis. Trailer dump- station, flush toilets, warm water showers, bathhouse and group picnicking area is available. Loops A & B are equipped with electrical hook-ups. Activities:  swimming, watchable wildlife trail, Benton Falls Trail, and bicycle trails. US Hwy 64 to FS 77 for 7 miles. Road is part of the Ocoee Scenic Byway.

DAVIS BRANCH: 4 sites, Take Hwy. 68, turn onto Hwy 165 east of Tellico Plains. Follow approximately 5.5 miles, and then turn right onto FS 210. Follow approximately 16 miles.

HOLLY FLATS: 17 sites. From TN 68 turn onto Hwy 165 east in Tellico Plains. Follow approximately 5.5 miles, then turn right onto FS 210 for approximately 14 miles. Turn right onto FS 126 for 6 to 8 miles. Holly Flats will be on your right.

INDIAN BOUNDARY: 87 campsites, overflow camping area, picnic area, swimming beach, bike trail, fishing, watchable wildlife trail.  Open May-October. Make reservation by calling 1-877444-6777. From Hwy 68 in Tellico Plains, turn onto Hwy 165 east for 14 miles to Indian Boundary sign at FS 345. Go approximately 1.5 miles.

LOST CREEK: 12 campsites located in a small isolated mountain valley on Big Lost Creek. Easy access to fishing in creek. US Hwy 411 to TN 30, go left for 7 miles, left on FS 103 for 7 miles.

NORTH RIVER: 11 sites, Turn onto Hwy 165 east in Tellico Plains for approximately 5.5 miles, then right on FS 210 for approximately 12 miles. Turn left onto FS 216 for 1 mile, next turn left, go about 100 yard to campground on left.

PARKSVILLE LAKE: 41 campsites at the foot of Chilhowee Mountain on Lake Ocoee (Parksville Lake.) 17 campsite are designed for RV’s with electrical hook-ups. The remaining 24 campsites are designed for group camping with sites capable of handling 15 to 30 individuals. The Parksville Lake area is in the Ocoee Gorge near whitewater recreation opportunities. Group camping, warm water showers, electricity and flush toilets are available. Activities:  boating, fishing, and hiking. Located on TN 30 just left off US Hwy 64.

QUINN SPRINGS: 25 campsites,  picnic sites near the Hiwassee River. Flush toilets, warm water showers, and picnic shelter available. Activities:  Nature trail, hiking trails, boating, fishing, canoeing and rafting. US Hwy 411 south from Etowah (north from Benton) for 5 miles to TN 30, turn left 2 miles.

SPIVEY COVE: 17 campsites open year round. From TN 68 turn onto Hwy 165 East in Tellico Plains. Follow approximately 5.5 miles, then turn right onto FS 210 for approximately 13 miles. .

STATE LINE: 7 sites, From TN 68 turn onto Hwy 165 east in Tellico Plains. Follow approximately 5.5 miles, then turn right onto FS 210 for approximately 18 miles along Tellico River.

THUNDER ROCK: 42 campsites along the Ocoee River. Trailhead for section of Benton McKaye Trail at CG, with access to other trails nearby.  Bathhouse has with flush toilets and warm water showers. US Hwy 64 to Ocoee #3 powerhouse, turn right and cross the concrete bridge, follow the road around powerhouse, take first right.

TUMBLING CREEK: 8 campsites in an isolated area near Ocoee #3 Lake. Trailer use is not recommended. US Hwy 64 to Ocoee #3 powerhouse, turn right across concrete bridge, follow the road for 2 miles. Take left fork at FS 221 for 6 miles.


For more information call:

Tellico Ranger District: 423-253-8400

Ocoee Ranger District: 423-338-3300

Or visit the website:




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