On Fall's Trail in Tennessee

What to Do & Where to Do It

Paddling Obed/Emory Watershed

Paddling outings on Tennessee's Obed/Emory Watershed not only offer a taste of distinct whitewater, but excellent fall color in autumn. Choose the Southeast's crown jewel run of the Lower Island Creek for the more advenced paddler, or the beautiful views and canyons of Daddy's Creek Canyon for all skill levels.

Route: Put-in is at Antioch Bridge. (Take the Peavine Exit off 1-40. Antioch Bridge is ten miles from the Interstate, over secondary roads.) Antioch Bridge is accessible year-round. It also can be reached from Crab Orchard.
Peak color: Mid to Late October
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Hike Virgin Falls Pocket Wilderness

Nestled in the heart of the state's highland rim, the lush canopy of Virgin Falls Wilderness explodes with color during fall, making it an ideal leaf-peeping hiking adventure. If the foliage isn't enough dessert for the soul, the 100-foot waterfall with its swift moving water emerging from an underground river surely will be a treat. The Caney Ford River and other nearby streams provide excellent fishing and other water activities, and there are tons of spelunking opportunities as well.

Access: 100-miles east of Nashville. I-65 South then merge onto I-24 east. Take I-24 east to I-40 east. Take TN 111 exit. Take US-70 exit toward Sparts/Sithville. Left onto US 70 east. Left on Mulberry Road. You'll be in town of Eastland. From there you will see signs for Wilderness area.
Peak color: Mid to Late October
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Fishing Hiwassee River

Fish in the heavily stocked Hiwassee River. Some believe that the river here provides the best tailwater in the Southeast. Anglers can fish for rainbow, brown, and some brook trout among densely forested woods that no doubt will contribute its colorful shedding leaves to the pristine waters.

Access: Powerhouse at Appalachia, downstream eight miles from US 411. The Hiwassee offers a total of 19 miles from the powerhouse.
Peak color: Mid to Late October
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Wildlife Viewing at Reelfoot Lake

This lake attracts a diverse mix of wildlife in its extensive bottomland forests, marshes, and bald cypress swamps. River otter, white-tailed deer, beaver, coyote, as well as the gret blue heron, great and cattle egret, osprey, insects and bald eagles are all represented here. Shorebird species to watch for include the semipalmated plover, marbled godwit, and pectoral sandpiper, which all scan the mudflats in early fall. Take the self-guided hiking trails or stand on top of the observation tower for a panoramic view of the vibrant colors and wildlife.

Route: From Union City, travel fourteen miles south on TN 22 to TN 157. Turn right one mile to USFWS headquarters/visitor center. From junction of TN 22 and TN 157, continue eight miles south, through Samburg, to TWRA headquarters on right. From Tiptonville, drive 2.6 miles east on TN 22 to state park visitor center on left.
Peak color: Mid-October

Outdoor Adventure at Land Between the Lakes

Variety, isolation, and diverse wildlife make Land Between the Lakes, or LBL, as a premier hiking destination and fall foliage getaway. Seventy-one species of amphibians and reptiles have been found at LBL, including twenty-four varieties of snakes and eleven varieties of frogs. Birders will have plenty to look at also, with almost 250 species inhabiting the area. With miles of hiking trails, mountain biking trails, and horse trails you will certainly find a host of activities to complement your autumn exploration.

Route: Located between two lakes (thus the name), Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, Interstate 79 takes you right to the welcome center.
Peak color: Mid to late October

Hike the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail and Parkway

Commemorate fall's splendor and history by hiking the historic Natchez Trace—an ancient path that began as a Native American trail. The Trace was later used as a trading route. More than 60 miles of hiking and horseback trails await. The trail is more like a quaint, quiet country road, perfect for all skill and endurance levels.

Access:Interstate 40
Peak color: Mid to late October
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Doing Fall in the Great Smokies

If you don't mind chilly nights, hiking, camping and exploring the Great Smokies during fall is a not-to-be missed event. Trails such as Laurel Falls, Abrams Falls, and Ramsey Cascades present hardwoods and the brilliant reds of maples, the golden yellow of beech, and the deeper hues of oaks. Although some activities may be limited in the fall, nature walks to view the plethora of wildlife within the Smokies is one of many options here. Or if walking isn't your thing, do the Smokies by car on the many scenic drives available. Try the scenic drive along the Park's main road, Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441). You will get some of the best scenic high mountain vistas in the park. Be aware that the park gets crowded during the fall season so plan in advance for any accommodation.

Peak color: Mid to Late October
More About Hikes in The Great Smokies

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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