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Local Trails

This is probably the most valuable listing to the explorer. These are the places that are just flat out hard to find when you move to a new place...and sometimes even when you've lived there all your life. These are just trails that are close by, are worth visiting, and they're not in the national forests.

Ozone Falls

Difficulty: Easy
Roundtrip: n/a

East Middle Tennessee, Crab Orchard exitoff I-40 between Rockwood and Crossville, turn right off exit and turnright at intersection onto HWY 70, follow HWY 70 until sign denoting fallson right, small parking area

This one is kind of a cheater. It really doesn't have a trail,but it's a REALLY nice fall, so I wanted to include it. Basically, getout of the car and walk a few yards and then try not to fall the 160 feetdown the falls...and I'm not exaggerating this. You can look down here,or you can walk the trail to the right that winds to the bottom of thefalls. I'd recommend doing both. Lots of people rappel here (I love tojump off these rocks), so it is a HIGH fall. But you can walk back behindit, and the height is just amazing. It's a good half day trip, being aboutan hour west of Knoxville. Just be careful when you get there.

Walden Ridge

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Roundtrip: 4 miles to Starlite Rock

East TN, 25W (Clinton HWY) from Knoxville to Clinton, across bridge, left at light, right at light beside McDonald's, left at stop sign, immediate right at flashing red light, road forks about a mile, take right fork to go under railroad bridge, go to end of road, turn left onto Dutch Valley Rd, take next right where old brown sign points to firetower (pay attention, it's an easy road to miss), go to top of ridge and park in pull-offs

I really like this place because it's close to home, but it's also far enough away to be really pretty. This is where I come when it's 3 pm and I HAVE to get away. This trail is one section of the really long Cumberland Trail that cuts through this area, but is really hard to keep up with. If you take the left side that's gated, the trail will take you to the firetower where there are excellent views of Dutch Valley and the mountains towards Petros. The trail continues past the firetower as a bona fide trail, and it's just a really pleasant stroll through the woods. It's not steep, it's just relaxing. If you take the right side from the road, you'll be on a rockier trail that offers several nice views of the valley and the mountains. It also has some good cliffs and boulders for climbing and rappelling. If you go a couple of miles down this side, you'll come to Star Light Rock where you can look from both sides of the ridge. And just past this great view is also a nice campsite.

Hemlock Bluffs

Difficulty: Easy
Roundtrip: 3 miles

E TN, Norris Lake at Loyston Point, there are signs denoting the trail at the park, I've found it's best to park at the gated road bed just outside the park gate and start the trail there

This is also a nice place for just a quick hike to the lake. If you hike straight down the old road, it'll take you directly to the lake in about a mile and a half, where it's just nice to sit on a rock and relax by one of the prettiest lakes in the area. But you can also make a day out of exploring the entire Hemlock Bluffs trail, or, as David and I did once, just wandering around all the old roads wondering where in the world the lake went. If you opt for the exploring option, take the TVA quad of the area, and make a day out of it. David and I walked in circles for several hours before we ever found the lake...and that was only after giving up and going cross country!

Rock Houses

Difficulty: Moderate
Roundtrip: < 1 mile

E TN, Lake City, this is a hard one to give directions to because I seem to always just make it up when I get there, basically, look at Lake City (north of Knoxville on I-75) on a map, there are two Lake City exits on 75, if you take the first one and turn left to get to 25 W and then turn left onto 25 W, you just then go back to the road that is on your map that crosses 75, besides the exit, this is the only road south of the exit that goes to the other side of 75, after crossing 75, turn right and go until you see BIG cliffs on the left and park, the trail is on the left side of the cliffs after a short, easy climb

Just take the trail all the way to the top of the cliffs, and start exploring. There are some good boulders and the cliff for rope work, and there are some great views from the cliff. There are some great campsites nestled between boulders, and even a cave opening from the cliff face for a great view. Just be careful, and explore.

House Mountain

Difficulty: Moderate
Roundtrip: > 4 miles

E TN, HWY 11W (Rutledge Pike) towards Rutledge, when the HWY changes from 4 lane to 2 lane, look for the House Mtn. signs pointing to the road on the left, follow the signs

This is a pretty steep hike, but it's not very long (sorry...I can't seem to remember how long, but it couldn't have been more than 1.5 to 2 miles). But the view from the top is more than worth the climb. You can see Knoxville and the Clinch Mountains all around you. This mountain just pokes straight up out of the surrounding valley, so it has great views.

Obed Wild & Scenic River

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Roundtrip: 3 miles

E TN, From Oak Ridge take HWY 62 (Illinois Ave.) north to Oliver Springs, turn right in Oliver Springs to stay on 62 (follow signs to Wartburg and Obed), turn right at light in Wartburg onto 27/29, turn left onto 62 about 3-4 miles down 27/29 (follow signs to Obed), turn left onto Ridge Rd (follow signs to Lilly Bridge River access), continue until you see small sign on left that says 'trail parking', turn left and park in field with satellite dish, I would suggest leaving a dollar or so in the "donation" box...it's SAFER that way!

There is a really nice trail that goes along the top of the cliffs along Clear Creek just before it intersects Obed River. There are some great views along this trail, and there are a lot of access points to some of the best climbing in the south. The trail is real easy, but it's also not that long...maybe 1.5 miles at the most, and it seems to just dead end. There is another trail after this one seems to dead end, but you need to just keep walking through the woods until you hit it (about 100 yards). Or you can take the trail around to the bottom of the cliffs. There are some nice swimming holes on the Clear Creek at the bridge (just 100 yards past the parking area on the main road). There are also some really nice places past the bridge, but it's best to go armed with a good TVA map and explore that area yourself. Also talk to the climbers...they'll point you to some nice places out there. If you cross the Lilly Bridge and go to the top of the ridge, park at the first gravel road on the left (there are signs for the Lilly Bridge Overlook now...) and walk the road to another good cliff, or keep going down the road, and take the left fork then take the next left. Park at the pull offs before the old house, then walk the dirt road RIGHT beside the house and keep going for about 1.5 miles, and you will come to a GREAT view where the trail goes along the ridge separating Clear Creek and Obed just before they meet...you can stand in one place and look WAY down on BOTH rivers on each side of you...and you'll be above all the circling hawks and buzzards.

South Holston Lake

Difficulty: Easy
Roundtrip: 4 miles

NE TN, HWY 421 north from Bristol, follow signs to South Holston Dam, trailhead is on right at gated old road just about 50 yards from the top of the dam

Now this is the lake that is at the base of Holston Mtn, which is described on the Views page. This is a really pretty lake with a lot of nice views. The trail I like to hike here is just down from the dam, and it's about 2 miles long. It dead ends at a big concrete thingy (that's a technical term for something I'm ignorant of...). It also ends in a flat open field right on the side of the lake. It's a very relaxing place and great for picnics. The trail is really easy, too, so you can't go wrong here. Be forewarned that the area high school cross country team enjoys running out to here after school, so it's not totally secluded about 4:30 on weekday afternoons.

Buffalo Mountain

Difficulty: Easy to Strenuous (depending on trail)

NE TN, Johnson City, College St towards Elizabethton, turn left before golf course onto Cherokee Hwy (follow signs to Buffalo Mountain), turn immediate left, continue following signs all the way

This is a city park right behind ETSU that is mostly overlooked, but it has a lot of nice trails with good views. If you go into the park and drive around the picnic area to the back of the loop, there is a small parking area on the right where the trails begin. Just a few yards up the trail is a box with trail maps in it. All the trails start here, so just explore from the map. Do NOT, however, think that the map does anything more than give you an idea of what's up here. It is nowhere near to scale, north is DOWN, and it's just generally misleading if you put too much faith in it. But use it as a guide, and you should do fine. Check out the place marked White Rock. It's a long, steep trail, but the views into the Unicoi Mountains and towards Erwin are just amazing. Also, be careful, because the last time I was up there the picnic area seemed to be frequented by people of well, um...alternate lifestyles. They weren't there often, so it's no big deal. But the trails are nice for hiking close in to Johnson City.

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