Ocoee-US 64 - Tennessee Scenic Drives
The Ocoee Scenic Byway was the first National Forest Byway in the nation. The route includes 19 miles of U.S. Highway 64 and seven miles of Forest Service Road 77 up Chilhowee Mountain in Polk County, TN. This route was designed to take motorists through some of the most beautiful areas in east Tennessee. It includes natural beauty, many popular recreation spots and the opportunity to view historical sites.
The scenic byway (FS Rd 77) climbs up Chilhowee Mountain to some of the most magnificent look-out points in Tennessee. Visitors can see out over the Tennessee Valley, the Cumberland Plateau and the Blue Ridge Province. On a clear day you can see North Carolina, Georgia and excellent views of nearby Sugarloaf Mountain. On Chilhowee Mountain visitors will find a recreation area with campground, lake, swimming area, picnic grounds, and trails. Information about these facilities is available by contacting: USDA - Forest Service, Ocoee Ranger District, Rt 1 Box 348D, Benton, TN 37307, telephone (613) 338-5201.
Parksville Lake (Lake Ocoee) and the Ocoee River provide plenty of chances for outdoor fun. Swimming, boating, fishing and camping are popular activities at Parksville Lake. Public access to the lake is available along Hwy 64.
Canoeists, rafters and kayakers will find excitement and thrills on the Ocoee River. The byway travels through the Ocoee River Gorge offering excellent views of whitewater activities. The Ocoee River is one of the most well known whitewater rivers in the eastern United States.
The Cherokee National Forest is rich with history. This area has been inhabited for over 12.000 years. The Cherokee Indians used to make their home here and the hills are filled with their history and culture. Much later, great armies flowed through the valleys near here during the Civil War. A handful of Confederate soldiers were surprised by Union troops one night on Chilhowee Mountain. Their camping spot is marked next to the byway.
The scenic byway traces its way along parts of the. Old Copper Road which used to follow some of the route followed by Hwy 64. Horse-drawn wagons followed the road to transport a wealth of high grade copper ore from Copperhill and Ducktown down the Ocoee River Gorge to railway cars in Cleveland, TN. It was not unusual for men working the wagons to spend the night at the Halfway House located near the mouth of Greasy Creek at Parksville Lake. The next day, they would complete the two-day journey from Copperhill to Cleveland. Parts of the old inn are under the waters of Parksville Lake.
The Cherokee is Tennessee's only National Forest and largest tract of public land. It covers nearly 630,000 acres in ten east Tennessee Counties from Chattanooga to Bristol. The Cherokee is managed by the USDA - Forest Service under the principles of multiple-use and ecosystem management. This allows for the various resources such as wood, water, wildlife and recreation to be used while being in balance with human values and the environment.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication