When frost hugs the mountaintops and trees, and turns the purest water ice cold, bundle up and let your eyes behold the winter beauty in Tennessee state parks and natural areas. While visiting, make sure you remain hydrated and stay on paths properly marked by Tennessee's official state parks and wildlife management teams. It is recommended to start winter hikes early in the day for plenty of daylight. Explore these Tennessee trails.
Explore 24,000 acres of wilderness made of hiking, biking and horse riding trails at Frozen Head State Park. The peak of the Cumberland Mountains at 3,324 ft. is covered in ice and snow in the winter months. Perfect for that always-coveted Tennessee Instagram photo-op.
The nation's most visited park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, also has a wealth of hiking opportunities. Get out in nature and discover what wildlife roams this time of year. With waterfalls, forests, panorama views, and caves, the most difficult part of your trip will be choosing which trail to explore.
Foster Falls Recreation Area is one of the most scenic wild areas in Tennessee. Take an easy hike to see the beauty of the falls. After you've snapped as many photos as your heart desires, continue along the suspension bridge over the river to the base of the falls.
Waterfalls, rock formations, streams and gorges can all be found within the 26,000 acres of Fall Creek Falls State Park. With 35 hiking trails already mapped out, some which lead you to the elegant waterfall, you can have a full, fun day in Tennessee's lush outdoors.
Enjoy a variety of terrain and hiking skill levels on the more than 20 miles of hiking trails at Long Hunter State Park. Strolls along the paved arboretum trail or some of the more adventurous routes are all yours for the taking.
Submerged cypress trees make Reelfoot Lake State Park a great destination for birding and hiking. Daily bald eagle and waterfowl tours are hosted by expert naturalists. Don't forget to mark your calendar for the Reelfoot Eagle Festival in February.
A wealth of history from animal crossings to Native American trade and travel routes can all be found at Natchez Trace State Park. Walk through forests and fields and along streams on the 13.5 miles of hiking trails, ranging from half-mile to 4.5 mile trails.
The Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park contains at least 15 Native American mounds, once used for celebrations and burials. See them up close on one of the hiking trails where you can climb steps to see the view from them. Get out in nature on the Nature Trail and the Earthworks Trail.
Cherokee National Forest is 650,000 acres of forest that has over 700 miles of trails, seven whitewater rivers, driving trails and plenty of places for wildlife viewing or a night under the stars. During the winter months, take a hike to one of the waterfalls or follow a trail up the Unaka Mountain, along Tellico River or see pretty views from Watauga Lake. The Citico Creek Area (shown) hosts activities like fishing, horseback riding, hiking and camping.
Bundle up and hike to the 110-foot high Virgin Falls for a beautiful winter view. Other waterfalls in the natural area include Big Laurel, Sheep Cave Falls and Big Branch Falls. Caves, sinkholes and stunning rock formations can be seen as well. The hike into Virgin Falls is 9 miles going in and out and considered a strenuous hike.
See gorgeous mountain views at Roan Mountain State Park, about 26 miles from Johnson City. There are about 12 miles of day-use hiking trails in the park and three miles of mountain bike trails. It is recommended that you wear foot traction devices when there is snow and ice on roads, walkways and trails. For an easy trail, do a self-guided nature hike that mostly follows the Doe River on the Tom Gray Trail. For a more difficult hike, try the Raven Rock Trail, a mile hike that is one of the favorite trails in the park by hikers. The trail is steep and ascends quickly to the crest of Heaton Ridge with Raven Rock Overlook approximately halfway from either end of the trail.
For even more hiking trails, check out our Outdoor Adventure experience page.