Tennessee is one of America’s most popular vacation destinations, and the Ocoee region features some of the most scenic views in the state. Here are several specialized trails designed to take you off-the-beaten-path so you can explore the beauty, history, and uniqueness of Southeast Tennessee. Click the links for detailed information about each trail, or stop by the Chamber’s Welcome Center at 1697 Hwy 64, Benton, TN for printed guide-maps for the trails.

Heritage Quilt Trail
Here in the Appalachian foothills, we treasure family heirlooms- especially quilts! While visiting our area take a day drive and follow the Southeast Tennessee Heritage Quilt Trail, where you will find wonderful heritage quilt blocks gracing the scenic, rural roadways, barns and quaint town squares. This self-guided tour is a great way to experience the variety of rural life in one of the Tennessee’s most scenic areas.

If you don’t have the time to follow the entire trail, or just want to visit sites in or near the Cherokee National Forest, you can visit the Polk County Quilt Trail.  The squares in Polk County are unique in that each host picked a design that represented the region and its history- from copper mining to whitewater rafting. Squares can be found at Quest Expeditions, the  Polk County Chamber of Commerce, Christmas is Here!, the Polk County News, Chestnut Inn Bed & Breakfast, Delano Daylilies and more!

Civil War Trail
Southeast Tennessee’s Civil War stories are closely tied to the places where heroism, violence, sacrifice, and commitment from both soldiers and civilians have forever left their mark. Follow this trail to some of the most compelling places in Tennessee’s history.

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Art Trails
In Southeast Tennessee traditional heritage skills of quilting, blacksmithing, and stringed-instrument making live comfortably side-by-side with the fine arts and crafts of art glass, hand thrown pottery, sculpture, and printmaking. This guide to the arts and crafts of Southeast Tennessee lists the places where you can find and view the work of both fine and folk artists in Chattanooga and the 10 Tennessee counties that surround the city.

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Cherokee Heritage Trail
The Cherokee can trace their history in Southeast Tennessee back more than a thousand years. Download the guide to Cherokee Heritage Sites in Southeast Tennessee to learn about important historical sites and stories relating to Cherokee history in the region.

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Farm Trails
Come explore Southeast Tennessee and enjoy the fruits of our labor! You’ll find farms that honor the timeless traditions of the past growing crops the way their ancestors did. Take a wagon ride, drive a scenic country road, sample fresh baked breads, pick your own strawberries, feed alpacas, enjoy a traditional Southern lunch, dig the perfect daylily to take home, or attend an old-fashioned county fair. 

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Music Trails
Discover the musical heritage of southeast Tennessee and experience an important part of the people’s lives who live here.

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Religious Trails
Take a journey through the history and heritage of faith in Southeast Tennessee.

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Explore the rails, trails and roads of Southeast Tennessee, with visits to unique eateries, shops, markets and more!

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Ocoee Scenic Byway– While you are visiting the beautiful Ocoee region, you must take a drive through the Ocoee Gorge, officially named the Ocoee Scenic Byway.  This byway is the nation’s first National Forest Scenic Byway, and was designated as such in 1992. 

The Ocoee Scenic Byway runs through the Cherokee National Forest and winds alongside the Ocoee River on US Hwy 64. Along the route you will pass Parksville Lake, scenic bluffs of the Ocoee River Gorge, the Historic Ocoee Flume Line and the Ocoee Whitewater Center.  The Ocoee Whitewater Center is the home of the 1996 Whitewater Olympic events.  At this interpretive center, you will find the Olympic Whitewater Race Channel, the Tanasi Trail System for hiking and mountain biking, a native plant garden, picnic areas, gift shop and more.   This is the perfect place to spend an afternoon watching the rafters and paddlers take on Class III & IV rapids!

Another “must see” is Forest Service RD 77, a section of the Byway that climbs to the top of Chilhowee Mountain.  This side trip offers five overlooks with spectacular panoramic views of the forest and mountains.  Even the Blue Ridge Mountain Range and Cohutta Wilderness areas can be seen in the distance!  At the top of Chilhowee Mountain is a recreation area that offers a picnic area, amphitheater, hiking and biking trails, a lake for swimming and fishing and an interpretative trail.  For the adventurous, you can also hike the 1 mile trail leading to beautiful Benton Falls!

Hwy 30/Hiwassee River Road

Scenic Highway 30 runs along the Hiwassee River -Tennessee’s first State Scenic River. Get a glimpse of days gone by as you explore the Reliance Historic District! Here you will find historical homes, schools and more in various states of ruin or restoration. Make sure to visit the old Higdon Hotel and Hiwassee Union Church- listed on the National Register of historic Places.  The views of the river and its valley are incredible and can be enjoyed from the comfort of your car. A trailhead with parking for the “John Muir Trail” is located on this drive.



Hiwassee River Blueway
The Hiwassee River Blueway is one of the premier blueway trail systems in Southeast Tennessee. The trail contains over 60 miles of navigable water for canoe, kayak and paddle boat enthusiasts to enjoy. The trail begins upriver from the Historic District of Reliance in the Cherokee National Forest . It gently winds its way towards the Tennessee River where the trail finally ends at the Hiwassee River Wildlife Refuge Area at Blythe Ferry. At the upper reaches of the river you will encounter some of the best trout fishing in the eastern U.S. Along the way to the river’s mouth at Blythe Ferry you pass beautiful wild and undeveloped shore line, pastoral farmland, and numerous historical sites like the Reliance Church, Webb’s Farm, Charleston and Calhoun and the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park in Birchwood, Tennessee.