East Tennessee's Trails & Byways follow the routes of early settlers, storytellers and musicians through country as spectacular as the Great Smoky Mountains. Four distinct seasons wash across our vibrant landscape. Come explore the scenic splendor. Head to tntrailsandbyways.com for full trail routes, travel apps, maps and must-see highlights.
Today, we feature the Pie in the Sky trail in southeast Tennessee. The famous, tasty MoonPie was born in Chattanooga so bring some along as you tour one of America's most vibrant cities, then head to our nature-blessed outlying areas from Monteagle up to Crossville and back to beauty of the mountains.
Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga
While on the trail, you don't want to miss these stops:
Start your Pie in the Sky road trip in Chattanooga before riding through the peaks and valleys of this beautiful region. Kick off your trip at the world-renowned Tennessee Aquarium and then a visit to Bluff View Arts District. A visit to Chattanooga isn't complete without spending time at iconic attractions such as Ruby Falls and Rock City on Lookout Mountain, which have brought tourists to the area for more than a century.
Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga
Sewanee: The University of the South in Monteagle is a must-see. Founded in 1857, the Gothic-inspired, Oxford-style architecture, pink sandstone and garden pathways nestled into a wooded landscape create a European village feel. For dinner, stop by the High Point Restaurant for terrific food and a unique history. Legend has it that infamous gangster Al Capone financed the 1929 mansion, which features escape hatches on the roof and basement tunnels used for transferring liquor during prohibition. During this time, Monteagle was a popular halfway point between Chicago and Miami.
Sewanee, All Saints Chapel, Monteagle
Up the road in Trace City, you'll want to make a stop at the Dutch Maid Bakery to stock up on pastries, cookies and more for the road at the state's oldest family-owned bakery – 113 years old.
Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a strolling nature lover, the views along this trail are some of the best Tennessee has to offer. Savage Gulf State Natural Area is an ideal stop for folks interested in a short, easy hike with picturesque views.
Savage Gulf State Natural Area
McMinnville's Cumberland Caverns blends two Tennessee treasures – natural beauty and music. A U.S. National Natural Landmark, the cave displays some of the most spectacular formations as well as the largest underground rooms in America. The Volcano Room hosts "Bluegrass Underground," a concert series. Daily scenic walking tours are offered year round, departing every hour on the hour.
Bluegrass Underground at Cumberland Caverns, McMinnville
Just south of Crossville in Pikeville is Fall Creek Falls State Park with more than 20,000 acres of forests, cascades and deep chasms. Take in the spectacular 256-foot Fall Creek Falls, the highest waterfall in the Eastern United States. With its many amenities (restaurant, Park Inn, cabins, camping, golf course) and panoramic natural setting, it is little wonder that Southern Living readers have voted Fall Creek Falls the "Best State Park" in the Southeastern United States. Four more state parks can be found along the trail.
Fall Creek Falls, Pikeville
Spend the night in Crossville, and catch a play or musical at the Cumberland County Playhouse, one of the 10 largest professional theaters in rural America with more than 165,000 visitors annually with two indoor and two outdoor stages.
Explore the site of the famous 1925 Scopes Trial in Dayton. The trial and this charming town inspired the classic film Inherit the Wind. If you are here in the second week of July, the Scopes Festival is held at the Rhea County Courthouse, where the original trial took place.
Signal Mountain sits atop Walden's Ridge overlooking Chattanooga. Signal Point, a prominent high spot on the ridge, is believed to have been used by Native Americans to signal important messages across great distances. Signal Point also was used during the Civil War by Union troops to observe traffic on the Tennessee River. If you find yourself on any Friday night in Signal Mountain, the Mountain Opry is where you want to be. Kick up your heels to some good old down-home bluegrass music.
Mountain Opry, Signal Mountain
These are just a few uniquely-Tennessee stops on the Pie in the Sky Trail. It brings you full circle back to Chattanooga, with many more attractions to visit such as the Chattanooga ChooChoo, Hunter Museum of American Art, and the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park. See you on the trail!
Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga