Activities

Sesquicentennial trips in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina
Region is steeped in blue and gray Civil War history
Explore North Carolina parks
Remember what fresh air really tastes like in North Carolina's parks
Explore Georgia parks
The state boasts many large, historic parks in close proximity
Get a Grip: four-wheelers in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina
Rocks, rivers and woods offer plenty of thrills for four-wheelers
More Bang for Your Buck - Hunting in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina
Ample hunting opportunities make the region a target for hunters tracking down all types of game

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Explore Tennessee Parks

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    Moss cover steps lead visitors to the Spring Castle in Rock Island State Park
    Sean McCombs

A variety of outdoor splendors await those in need of an open-air fix at state parks a short drive from the Scenic City. The following parks are just a sample of what there is to do close to Chattanooga but a world away in fun.

Fall Creek Falls State Park

• An hour from Chattanooga in Pikeville, this 20,000-acre destination holds gorges, waterfalls, streams and stands of hardwood timber.

• "Southern Living" magazine readers ranked this area the best park in Tennessee.

• Among the 228 campsites, there are a variety of accommodations ranging from group camp sites with room for 100, lodges, cabins and the 145-guest room Park Inn.

• Picnic areas dot the site and 34 miles of trails beckon, as do fish in the 345-acre Fall Creek Falls Lake.

• The second weekend in April marks the Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage and Labor Day begins the Mountaineer Folk Festival.

Source: Tennessee State Parks website

Harrison Bay State Park

• A water-lover's oasis holds a 1,200-acre park with 40 miles of the Chickamauga Lake shoreline at this recreation area in Harrison built by the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1930s.

• A public ramp serves boaters ready to hit the water. The marina holds 161 covered slips, 28 uncovered and can handle watercraft up to 60 feet, including sailboats.

• A 4.5-mile loop trail calls off-road cyclists from beginners to expert riders.

• RV campers have 128 sites to choose from with water and electrical service and bathhouses in each of the four camping areas.

Source: Tennessee State Parks website

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    Park visitors walk across a suspension bridge at Fall Creek Falls State Park
    Sean McCombs

Rock Island State Park

• A limestone gorge with scenic overlooks, fishing pools and the woodlands surrounding the Great Falls of the Caney Fork River in McMinnville invites explorers to poke around.

• Walleye spawn in the Blue Hole on Center Hill Lake adjacent to the lake's shores.

• Bass, muskellunge and bluegill also lurk beneath the lake's surface.

• Most anglers fish the park's waterways in the spring, while boaters and water-ski enthusiasts hit the lake through summer and fall.

Source: Tennessee State Parks website

Cumberland Mountain State Park

• Atop the Cumberland Plateau, this state park near Crossville is one portion of a geographical formation stretching from New York to Alabama.

• The 1,720-acre park was formed as a recreation area for residents in 1938. The nearby Homestead Museum showcases a 1930s-era homestead community.

• Paddleboats, canoes, rowboats and trolling-motor fishing boats are available for rent. The boat dock is open May through October. Boaters can bring their own kayaks and canoes for paddling on Byrd Lake.

• Cabins with fireplaces are available to park-goers from Oct. 1 to April 30.

• The cabins and lodges range from two-person structures to 10-person accommodations.

• Tent and RV campsites with hookups, picnic tables, grills and bathhouses are ready for campers.

• A swimming pool, restaurant, playground, softball field, tennis and volleyball courts offer other opportunities for recreation.

Source: Tennessee State Parks website

Frozen Head State Park

• This Cumberland Mountain area park near Wartburg has some of the area's least-disturbed forests and a wide range of wildflowers.

• The landscape holds 16 different mountain peaks, and at 3,324 feet, Frozen Head is one of the highest in Tennessee west of the Great Smoky Mountains.

• Its name is derived from snow and ice caps on the peaks in winter.

The park is included on the Upper Cumberland Quilt Trail, a preservation project for historic quilting practices in 16 Tennessee and Alabama counties.

• Park visitors can cycle, camp, fish, hike, horseback ride, swim and picnic in this mountainous terrain.

Source: Tennessee State Parks website

-- Compiled by staff writer Todd South