Red Clay was the last seat of Cherokee government before the tribe's forced removal on the Trail of Tears. The spring on site supplied water during council meetings of chiefs. The Cherokee capital was moved here from Georgia in 1832 when that state stripped the tribe of the right to govern itself.
The Trail of Tears actually began here as well, and the site includes forts and holding pens where the Cherokee were held while awaiting removal.
The site contains a natural landmark, the Blue Hole Spring, which arises from beneath a limestone ledge to form a deep pool that flows into Mill Creek, a tributary of the Conasauga and Coosa River system.
Cherokee Days of Recognition has been a major event at the site for 30 years, attracting both those with Native American heritage and those who simply want to learn more about Cherokee heritage.
Behind the amphitheatre near the picnic area is an entrance to a 1.7 mile loop trail which goes to the Overlook Tower. The trail is a moderate grade and is well marked. A short nature trail begins at the spring and ends at the farmstead.
Red Clay has a 100-person capacity picnic pavilion and 18 individual picnic tables. The picnic shelter may be reserved up to one year in advance and is equipped with a grill, a water fountain and restrooms.
Individual picnic tables each have a grill and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Visit us in the Gift Shop.
Tour buses are welcome.
Visit us in the Museum to learn more about Red Clay State Historic Park.
Check back soon for more events, or visit our event page for events in other parks.
Red Clay State Historic Park is located in the extreme southeast corner of Tennessee, just above the Georgia line. The museum tells the story of how far the Cherokee had come in adapting to European ways and how little this mattered in the end.
Red Clay is central to gathering places used by federal troops in organizing the removal, the symbolic beginning of the Trail of Tears auto tour experience that, for Tennessee, ends just as symbolically, at the Port Royal State Historic Park near the Kentucky line.
The park encompasses 263-acres of narrow valleys and forested ridges that average 200 feet or more above the valley floor.
The Blue Hole Spring rises here from beneath a limestone ledge to form a deep pool that flows into Mill Creek, and, eventually into the Coosa River. The spring may have had a ritual significance, but was also used by the Cherokee for their water supply during council meetings. There are trails and picnicking sites for visitors.
1140 Red Clay Park Rd. S.W.
Cleveland, TN 37311
From Chattanooga on I-75 take exit 3A (e. Brainerd Rd.) & travel 8 mi. East on Brainerd Rd., turn right on London Ln., for 2.8 mi., turn left on Mt. Vernon Rd., for 4 mi. Turn left on Old Apison Rd., for 0.7 mi. turn left on Red Clay Park Rd., travel 1.5 mi. to park entrance.
March through November: 8:00 a.m. until sunset------December through February: 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.