Top Secret Trail
Take a journey through some of East Tennessee’s beautiful scenery and best-kept secrets. You’ll start your trip in Knoxville, then set off into the Upper Cumberland Plateau and the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, where you’ll explore the area’s culture, marvel at the landscape, and sample some home cooking.
Ignored for years after the riverboat era, the Tennessee Riverfront now supports this landscaped walkway featuring a restaurant, boarding for Three Rivers Rambler train rides, the Star of Knoxville excursion riverboat, NavCal River Rides and the Volunteer Princess yacht. The landing is also an anchor of Knoxville's bicycle/pedestrian greenway system, which stretches deep into West Knoxville. Rent a bike or a boat at Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center. Three Rivers Rambler: 865-524-9411 Tennessee Riverboat Co.: 865-525-7827, 800-509-2628 NavCal River Rides: 865-765-3407 Volunteer Princess Cruises: 865-541-4556 Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center, 900 Volunteer Landing Ln., 865-523-0066
American Museum of Science & Energy
Telling the story of Oak Ridge, the Manhattan Project and the atomic age in vivid detail, this is a great place to learn the significance of this small community's efforts in changing the world. Take part in hands-on activities and get an in-depth look of the movement that made this area into what it is today.
International Friendship Bell
A gift from the citizens to their city for Oak Ridge's 50th birthday celebration, this was the first monument between a U.S. Manhattan Project city and Japan. The bell serves as an expression of hope for everlasting peace, designed in Oak Ridge and cast in Japan from solid bronze. The artwork on the traditional Japanese bell depicts commonalities between Tennessee and Japan including official flowers, trees, and birds and symbolizes international friendship. The bell, in AK Bissell Park (point 13), is easily accessible so all citizens of the world can ring the bell for peace.
AK Bissell Park
Learn more about Oak Ridge's WWII history with a stroll through this park named after the city's first mayor. The Secret City Commemorative Walk on the east end of the park was built in 2005 and pays homage to the businesses and workers of the Manhattan Project whose efforts helped end the war. Each June, the park is home to the annual Secret City Festival, featuring the South's largest WWII reenactment. You might also spend some time in the Oak Ridge Library, researching more about this historic town in the Oak Ridge Room.
Between Badger Ave., ORAU Way & Oak Ridge Trnpk.
Oak Ridge Welcome Center
This original Manhattan Project building was once home to the Midtown Community Center, also known as Wildcat Den,— a recreation hall and hang out for most of the youth living "behind the fence." Today, you can pick up area brochures and see a recreated dorm room as well as original maps, photos and artifacts from the Manhattan Project.
102 Robertsville Rd. Ste. C/Traffic light 11
Children's Museum of Oak Ridge
Whether you're a child or a child at heart, this museum offers a unique hands-on way of learning about the Appalachian and Manhattan Project heritage of East Tennessee. Play in a child-size doll house, experience the wonders of a rain forest or be the conductor of a train, it's only up to your imagination.
K-25 Overlook/East Tennessee Technology Park
This overlook and park is located across from the now idle K-25 gaseous diffusion plant. Displays and video tell the story of the plant from its Manhattan Project days to the end of the Cold War.
Watts Bar Lake
One of the South's largest and most scenic lakes, Watts Bar provides over 39,000 acres of water and 800 shoreline miles for outdoor adventure. Enjoy world-class fishing, lakeside resorts, dining, boating, swimming and more. Kingston has a perfect vantage point to view the lake near the intersection of Hwy 58 and Hwy 70 with picnicking areas available.
Roane County Museum of History & Art
One of only seven remaining Antebellum courthouses in the state, this 1855 structure combines Greek Revivalist and Federalist styles, using native lumber and bricks made on site by slaves. No nails were used in the original structure. Now owned by the Roane County Heritage Commission, it houses the Roane County Museum and archives.
This quaint historic area is filled with antique and specialty shops, home cooking and fine dining, all within a city block. Time your visit just right and you'll catch Yonder Hollow, a live bluegrass show the first Saturday night of each month. Downtown is also the first stop on the Rockwood Christmas Home Tour held the first weekend in December; see many of the area's historic homes. Park and walk to visit point 26. Yonder Hollow Productions: 865-250-6718
W. Rockwood St.
Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) Museum
This 1936 Craftsman-style building is believed to be the oldest THP station in East Tennessee. Because Kingston Avenue was once the major connector to much of East Tennessee, this facility was used until 1952 to patrol the Dixie Highway. It now houses a museum honoring the highway patrol. Featuring a native Crab Orchard stone exterior, there are only two of its kind in the state. The other one is in Crossville, a stop on the Promised Land: Pilgrimage to Presidents Trail.
500 S. Gateway Ave.
Temperance Building/Harriman Heritage Museum
This museum is housed in the magnificent brick Temperance Building, once home to the American Temperance University. You'll find a wide assortment of artifacts, photos and memorabilia to help you get a glimpse into Harriman's past. Open by appointment.
802 N. Roane St. (Hwy 27)
Cornstalk Heights Historic District
This beautiful district features over 100 homes and structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can take walking tours and view the Victorian architecture common during the period after the "Great Land Sale" of 1890. To experience life inside the homes, don't miss the Historic Harriman Christmas Tour held the second weekend in December. To hear chilling stories about some of these residences, attend the Haunting of Harriman, a guided walking tour held the second weekend in October.
Begins at Morgan Ave. and Roane St. Ends Morgan and Georgia St.
Founded in 1830 and first known as Winter's Gap, this town was later named after Richard Oliver, its first postmaster, and the natural mineral springs that were nearby. A resort hotel was built near the springs, catering to wealthy guests from all over the nation who came to drink and bathe in the water. Sadly, the grand resort burned in 1905 but the ticket booth still stands at point 36. Oliver Springs now caters to off-road enthusiasts.
Oliver Springs Library and Archives
An 1897 train depot, this public library and museum houses historical artifacts and historic photos, as well as the original hotel ticket booth. Visit a restored Southern Railway caboose, horse-drawn fire wagon and 1950 Oliver Springs fire truck next door.
Windrock Park Off-Highway Vehicle Area
Here, you'll find 72,000 acres of off-road adventure for the entire family with picturesque views of Tennessee's mountains and valleys. Explore over 300 miles of trails for hikers, ATVs, off-highway vehicles (OHV), motorcycles, mountain bikes and horses. See Outdoor listing for OHV rental info.
555 Windrock Rd.
This is the most legendary motorcycle ride in the area, beginning at Brushy Mountain Prison on Hwy 116 heading back to Oliver Springs. The gorgeous 72-mile route is recommended for experienced and adventurous riders.
Frozen Head State Park
These 24,000 acres contain some of the richest wildflower areas in the state, as well as one of the highest peaks in the state at 3,324 feet. In the winter, "Frozen Head" is often covered with snow or ice, even though the sun may be shining. Stroll or hike over 50 miles of foot trails with waterfalls and rock shelters, bring a picnic, or plan for camping. Seven thousand acres have been set aside for hunting; TWRA* regulations apply. Events throughout the year include Wildflower Walks in April; the Echo in the Mountain Bluegrass Festival in May and Heritage Days in August celebrating traditional Appalachian music and crafts. This is an access point for the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail; learn more at point 42.
Founded in 1845 by 15 families of German-Swiss settlers, the town is named for the Wartburg Castle in Germany. Many area residents still hold the dream of replicating that famous castle here on a hilltop overlooking the city.
121 N Kingston St
Morgan County Chamber of Commerce/ Visitors Center
This is not only a great place to find info on the area, it's also an entry point for the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park, a linear state park following the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail. When completed, the trail will run from Cumberland Gap National Historical Park at the Tennessee/Kentucky border to Signal Point, a Civil War site perched above Chattanooga. The 300-mile route offers locations for hiking, camping and fishing; Wartburg is the only town through which the trail passes.
3084 Morgan County Highway
Obed Wild & Scenic River Visitors Center
Learn all about this National River and its four streams: Daddy's Creek, Clear Creek, Emory River, and the Obed River, offering a rugged landscape of wild land and water found in few places in the Eastern U.S. Find info about the area, known for its spectacular gorges with 400-foot cliffs and tons of outdoor adventure, including hunting, hiking, and fishing; canoeing and kayaking; camping and picnicking; even rock climbing on the sheer sandstone bluffs. For a tamer experience, Lily Bluff Overlook provides a great view of the rugged river.
208 N. Maiden Ln.
Nestled between the Big South Fork National Recreation Area and the Rugby State Natural Area, the town of Rugby is a rare example of a rural community with its original blueprint still intact. Perfectly preserved and restored to the utopian vision of its founder Thomas Hughes, it is one of the most authentically preserved historic villages in America.
Historic Rugby Visitors Center
Begin your tour of would-be utopia here, where you'll watch a short film and take a guided tour of four original buildings. As you explore, don't miss Harrow Road Café, Rugby Commissary Museum Store, Spirit of Red Hill Nature Art & Oddiments and Carriage House Gallery.
5517 Rugby Hwy
Colditz Cove State Natural Area
Explore this 165-acre natural area, and take the 1.5-mile trail loop to beautiful Northrup Falls. It's one of the state's most stunning waterfalls, plunging more than 60 feet over a protruding rock ledge into a scenic, narrow gorge along Big Branch Creek. The waterfall is named for the family who settled here and operated a mill above the falls in the 1800s.
Highland Manor Winery
Tennessee's oldest winery is known for producing award-winning, handcrafted wines. Take home a few bottles of your favorites, but be warned: you are limited to only one bottle of their most popular Muscadine Wine. If you want more, you'll have to add your name to the waiting list! Don't miss the gift shop, and enjoy events and live entertainment from time to time.
2965 S. York Hwy
Ye Ole Jail Museum
Constructed from local sandstone, this structure was used as a jail from 1900-1979. Original cells are intact for visitors to crawl in, close the door, and see what it was like to be behind the old bars. The site also houses the Fentress County Chamber of Commerce.
Jack Stoddart's Art Studio & Jammin' at Hippie Jacks Recording Studio
"Hippie Jack" works hard to preserve the work of Americana singer-songwriters through a public television music series "Jammin' at Hippie Jack's," broadcast from this farm to over 70 million fans; about 1,000 folks come out for the live experience. Stop by Hippie Jack's any time, and be sure to visit the art studio, featuring local artists.
642 Shiloh Rd.
Walk around this picturesque square, rich in history and filled with antique stores, restaurants and gift shops. The original 1835 Overton County Courthouse was burned by guerrillas during the Civil War to cover up evidence of pro-Confederate acts, and was rebuilt ca. 1868. Learn more at the site's Civil War Trails marker.
100 E. Court Sq.
Standing Stone State Park & State Forest
Explore nearly 11,000 acres of rugged terrain on a hilly portion of the Cumberland Plateau. Hilltop overlooks offer views of outstanding scenery, while deep wooded coves harbor abundant spring and summer wildflowers, and a wide variety of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. The park offers cabins, group lodges, a campground, gift shop, picnic pavilions, playgrounds and an amphitheater as well as boating, fishing, hiking and swimming. Note: Overton Lodge, 1 of 4 group lodges on site, is not accessible by motorcoach.
1674 Standing Stone Park Hwy
Dale Hollow Dam & Lake
This structure and the 52,000-acre lake it created are one of the country's top spots for fishing, boating and water activities today. As you drive across the dam, look to your left for a gorgeous view of the lake and to your right for a breathtaking picture of the Obey River flowing through the valley.
Dale Hollow Dam Road
Cordell Hull Birthplace State Park
Visit this park, where you'll find a replica of former U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull's log cabin, rebuilt using the original logs. Tour the farm and garden, and stop in to see the museum housing documents and artifacts from his life, including the Nobel Peace Prize he received in 1945 in recognition of his efforts for peace and understanding in the Western Hemisphere, his trade agreements, and his work to establish the United Nations. Nearby, the Bunkum Cave Trail leads to an overlook and the entrance to the cave where Cordell's father once made moonshine. The park, known for its songbirds and wildflowers, has several picnic spots and hosts events throughout the year. The cave is currently closed.
The Amonett Place-Dale Hollow Lake Welcome Center
This is the gateway to Tennessee's Upper Cumberland region. Stop in for info on lodging, attractions and lake recreation. In the Borderland Foundation Museum of the Civil War, learn about Tennessee's first military action at the beginning of the war. During the summer, visit the farmers market here, a resource for local fresh produce.
1005 Hwy 111
Historic Square at Byrdstown
The 1935 Pickett County Courthouse is the centerpiece of this charming square. Take a walk around the area, then enjoy good ole' country fare at Dixie Café;— on Friday and Saturday nights live Bluegrass starts at 6 p.m. It's no secret, seats fill up fast. Courthouse Sq. Byrdstown 888-406-4704 Dixie Café 31 Courthouse Sq. 931-864-6535
Sergeant Alvin C. York State Historic Park
This site is the homeplace of one of the most decorated war heroes of WWI. Stop at the general store and visitors center to find memorabilia and souvenirs, historical photos and newspaper clippings, and don't miss the 15-minute video history in the back. Explore the 1880s gristmill that York operated for years, and tour the family home, farm and burial site. Get your feet wet, enjoy the playground and have a picnic along the Wolf River.
Pickett State Park & State Forest
Situated in a remote section of the Upper Cumberland Mountains, this 19,200-acre park offers a combination of scenic, botanical and geological wonders found nowhere else in Tennessee. Check out the uncommon rock formations, natural bridges, numerous caves and remains of ancient Native American occupation. Rent a boat or canoe on Arch Lake; stay in a cabin or campground; hike, ride, and swim among the sandstone bluffs.
4605 Pickett Park Hwy
Big South Fork NRRA
Encompassing 125,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau, this area protects the free-flowing Big South Fork of the Cumberland River and its tributaries. Hike, camp, or picnic in the scenic gorges and sandstone bluffs, and be sure to visit the park's Blue Heron Mining Community, a former 1930s coal mining town that is now a museum preserving and telling its story.
Scott County Visitor Center
This is a great place to get to know Scott County. Pick up your Big South Fork backcountry permit, maps and more. You can even take a virtual tour of point 73 on the center's big video boards giving you an up-close and personal look at what comes next. Take a seat on the front porch rockers to plan your Big South Fork adventure.
12025 Scott Hwy
ATV riders and nature lovers, don't miss this 19,000-acre site with hundreds of miles of trails, named as the nation's top ATV destination. Stop here for rail buggy riding, mountain and dirt biking, hiking, camping and hunting. Catch the White Knuckle Event each Memorial Day weekend, featuring top-selling country music artists and ATV events. Reservations required.
2860 Baker Hwy.
Indian Mountain State Park
Visit this beautiful state park at the foot of majestic Indian Mountain, developed on land reclaimed from abandoned strip mines; it's one of the first of its kind in the Southeastern U.S. You'll find campsites, boat rentals, walking trails, picnic shelters, fishing and a swimming pool. Retrace route SW/SE on TN-297/Newcomb Pk. back to Pioneer Post Office, turn L on TN-63 to rejoin main trail enroute to pt. 80.
Moonshine Exhibit at Hampton Inn
Visit one of America's Top 10 Hampton Inns to see the llamas grazing along the lake and mountain vistas; décor and memorabilia tell the true story of an East Tennessee bootlegger's fatal, final run-in with revenuers.
4459 Veterans Memorial Hwy
Recreation awaits where the mountains meet the water. This beautiful lake extends 56 miles up the Powell River and 72 miles up the Clinch River, surrounded by the majestic peaks of East Tennessee. With 34,000 acres of water, 22 marinas and 800 miles of shoreline, there are plenty of secluded coves for fishing and boating, camping and lodging, or simply enjoying the view.
Lenoir Museum Historical Complex
Within Norris Dam State Park, you'll find this complex that includes a museum, an 18th century grist mill, and threshing barn. Through artifacts collected by Will Lenoir over 60 years, learn more about Early Americana in the "Touch" museum, featuring Indian artifacts, fine china, pressed glass bottles, baskets, furniture and more. Museum open Wed.-Sun. Bristol Mill is seasonal.
125 Village Green Cr.
Appalachian Arts Craft Center
The center was founded in 1970 to "enrich the souls and pocketbooks of low-income people in Anderson County " by teaching, producing, and selling traditional handcrafts. Today, it's a nonprofit organization and highly-recognized educational facility where local artisans and visitors gather to share creative ideas and talents. Stop in to view the latest exhibition, purchase a piece, or just learn more.
2716 Andersonville Hwy
Hoskins Drug Store & Soda Fountain
Welcome to the days when the community drug store wasn't a national chain, but an important town gathering spot. Established in 1930 to serve the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and textile mill employees, Hoskins grew into an eight-store chain. This one is the original visit the 1940s soda fountain, traditional drug store, hot plate restaurant, and gift shop to step back in time.
111 N. Main St.
Old Gray & National Cemeteries
Established in 1850, Old Gray is a prestigious final resting place for prominent Knoxvillians. Just beyond it is National, established in 1863 to bury fallen Union troops. It was the first to honor th edead with small flags on Memorial Day.
543 N. Broadway St.
This district is a vibrant evolution of what was known as "The Bowery" around 1900: a bawdy neighborhood of saloons, pool halls, houses of ill repute and gambling dens. Later it became known as "The Bottom" and was settled by early Greek immigrants, segregated African-Americans, and bootleggers. Revitalization in the 1980s turned it into a unique historic district with an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, clubs and Knoxville's first winery, Blue Slip Winery.
Central St. and Jackson Ave.
Alex Haley Heritage Square & Statue
Said to be the largest African-American statue in the country, this magnificent 13-foot bronze piece of art honors Alex Haley, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel "Roots: The Saga of An American Family." Haley, a storyteller and humanitarian, spent the last 14 years of his life in East Tennessee.
Mabry-Hazen House Museum
Located atop Mabry's Hill, the restored 1858 house served as headquarters for both Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War. This elegant home is filled with original furnishings as well as stories that offer a glimpse into the past.
Women's Basketball Hall of Fame
Stop in to shoot some hoops at the only facility of its kind in the world dedicated to women's basketball. This is a great stop for visitors of all ages, featuring an excellent collection of multimedia presentations, artifacts and hands-on experiences.
700 Hall of Fame Dr.
Built in 1909, this was a vaudeville house, hosting big names like the Marx Brothers and Will Rogers, and later a movie theater, restored in the 1970s. It has since welcomed acts like Tony Bennett, Dizzy Gillespie and the Ramones. Two Civil War generals died here, and it's said that their ghosts have haunted it ever since. The Bijou is home to the "Tennessee Shines" radio show the last Wednesday night of every month, featuring Americana music. Tours by advance reservation.
Historic Tennessee Theatre
Built as a "motion picture palace" in 1928, the theatre's extravagant interior has been described as "Barcelona cathedral meets Casablanca mosque." The official State Theatre of Tennessee now features modern technology within its vintage majesty. It hosts symphonies, operas and acts like B.B. King and Bob Dylan. Tours by advance reservation.