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Tennessee: The perfect place for nature lovers

Tennessee is a gorgeous state- absolutely filled with natural beauty. It has a mild climate so you can see beautiful leaves and enjoy long springs and summers, but the winters are not too harsh. If you’re looking for a place to go camping, hiking, fishing, or just take a beautiful relaxing walk to relax and refresh mind and body, we have some recommendations for you.

Fall Creek Falls- This is Tennessee’s most visited state park, and with good reason. Filled with magical waterfalls spread over 26,000+ lush green acres, hiking and walking here is a little like being in a fairy land. The 256 feet Fall Creek Falls is one of the tallest east of the Rocky Mountains. There are other falls too, such as:

  • Coon Creek Falls 250’
  • Rockhouse Falls 125’
  • Cane Creek Falls 85’
  • Cane Creek Cascades 45′
  • Piney Creek Falls 40’ (down onto a 45′ cascade)

The best time to visit is in the spring, when the waterfalls and cascades are filled with clean, melting snow. However it is a lovely park year round. You can make a picnic, hike to the falls, swim or even bird watch. There is also a golf course. You can take a day trip, or spend night either camping or in a private cabin. The park is located in Bledsoe and Van Buren counties, 11 miles east of Spencer and 18 miles west of Pikeville. It may be entered from Highway 111 or Highway 30.

fall_creek_falls_tn1PINThe Lost Sea- An extension of the fantastic Craighead Caverns, the Lost Sea is the largest underground lake in the US (and the second largest in the world). The lake covers more than 4 acres and is recognized by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a Registered National Natural Landmark. Craighead Caverns have been known and used since the days of the Cherokee Indians. Today, you can take a guided tour of the caves, which finishes with a glass bottom boat ride through the lake. Afterwards you can walk the lovely nature trail, or get an ice cream and watch some glass blowing in the historic old Sweetwater Village.

The Lost Sea is located  in Sweetwater on Hwy. 68, just seven miles off I-75, exit #60. It is open every day except Christmas.

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Raccoon Mountain Caverns- There is something magical about a cave, and Tennessee has some amazing ones. Our favorite (aside from the Lost Sea) is  Raccoon Mountain Caverns. Once rated the eighth-best cave in the United States by Parade magazine, the site offers a walking tour of Crystal Caverns or a muddy tour of Wild Cave. The Crystal Cavern tour takes guests through a series of caves with stalactites, stalagmites, fossils, natural bridges and reflecting pools. The Wild Cave is much more challenging. It requires proper gear (including a helmet and gloves), but allows you  to explore undeveloped areas of the cave system. There are no designated trails or lighting in the Wild Cave, which makes it perfect for adventurous souls.

Raccoon Mountain is located at 319 W. Hills Drive, a ten minute drive from Chattanooga. It has one of the state’s best RV parks and also offers cabins if you want to stay the night.

4e2e2edbe2381080abce664b571ee27aPINWildflowers in Taylor Hollow- Taylor Hollow is a 173-acre natural area located in Sumner County on the Western Highland Rim. It is owned by The Nature Conservancy. It is one of the few areas in Middle Tennessee that has been minimally impacted by humans, so if you really want to get away and enjoy the peace and tranquility of nature, this is one of your best bets. It is best visited in the spring, when the blooming wildflowers create a spectacularly beautiful site. The preserve contains such state endangered plants as the Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia verna) and the Ozark Least Trillium (Trillium pusillum var. ozarkanum), and several state threatened plants such as the Michigan Lily (Lilium michiganese) and the Butternut (Juglans cinerea). There is also a waterfall, a secret cave and a pool where you can see many acuatic species.

As it is privately owned you must contact The Nature Conservancy directly to visit. But it is well worth the trouble. Here are their contact details:
The Nature Conservancy, Tennessee Chapter
2021 21st Ave., South, Suite C 400
Nashville, TN 37212
Phone (615) 383-9909.
Cherohala Skyway- This is one of the most beautiful drives in the world. This 42-mile long byway climbs to a mile above sea level,and crosses the Tennessee/North Carolina border and the crest of the Great Smoky Mountains. It is beautiful anytime of the year, but at its most spectacular in the autumn when the leaves turn vibrant shades of yellow, orange, gold and scarlet. We recommend starting in Tellico Plains. While you’re there grab a picnic and stop off your tank as there are no facilities on the road. We recommend dropping into the Tellico Grains Bakery for some fresh homemade baked goods- they make a delicious snack along the way. After leaving Tellico plains you’ll pass through the Cherokee National Forest. Tennessee’s only national forest, it contains more than 600 miles (966 kilometers) of hiking trails, including a section of the famous Appalachian National Scenic Trail. We also recommend you take the six-mile side trip on State Route 210 to see the lovely Bald River Falls.

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