10 Best Places to Hike in Tennessee: Walking, Jogging & Biking

Tennessee is full of great trails for walking, jogging, and hiking. Visit one of these Tennessee walking trails today to explore everything the wilderness has to offer.

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10 Best Places to Hike in Tennessee: Walking, Jogging & Biking

Posted by Gary Ashton on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2024 at 8:02am.

Best Walking and Jogging Trails in Tennessee

Nestled within the breathtaking landscapes of the Appalachian Mountains and the rolling hills of the Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee boasts an abundance of scenic hiking trails waiting to be explored. From rugged backcountry paths to gentle riverside walks through the neighborhoods of Downtown Nashville, the Volunteer State offers outdoor enthusiasts a diverse array of hiking opportunities. Whether you're seeking panoramic views from lofty peaks, immersion in lush forests, or encounters with cascading waterfalls, Tennessee's trails promise adventure, serenity, and a deep connection with the natural beauty of this storied region.

T.O. Fuller State Park - Memphis

When planning your visit to T.O. Fuller State Park in Memphis, be sure to explore its rich history and diverse natural landscapes. Established in 1938 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, it was the first state park open to African Americans east of the Mississippi River. 

Named after Dr. Thomas O. Fuller, the park holds a prehistoric Native American village discovered during construction. Spanning over 1,000 acres, T.O. Fuller State Park offers a variety of activities such as hiking, playgrounds, swimming pools, and picnic areas. The park's proximity to Memphis makes it a convenient escape into nature with its woodlands, hills, and wetlands, which are ideal for birdwatching and hiking. You can even follow a trail leading to the old village site. Don't forget about the dog-friendly trail where you can enjoy the outdoors with your furry companion. Operating hours vary by season:

  • Spring and summer hours are from 8:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m.
  • Fall and winter hours are from 8:00 a.m. until sunset

Music City Strolls: Hiking Around Nashville

Nashville is home to some of the most scenic and enjoyable hiking trails in the state. Amidst its rolling hills and lush greenery, both locals and visitors find solace and adventure on its paths. One of the top hiking spots is Radnor Lake State Park. Located in the Oak Hill area 10 miles south of downtown, this natural oasis offers serene lake views and wildlife spotting opportunities, with trails that cater to all skill levels, making it a perfect getaway for nature lovers.

Located south of the West Meade neighborhood and the Forest Hills community—two of Nashville's most expensive neighborhoods—the Warner Parks (Edwin and Percy Warner Parks) boast an extensive network of trails. These parks provide hikers with a variety of terrain, from moderate woodland trails to more challenging hill climbs, all while offering breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.

Virgin Falls State Natural Area

Visit Virgin Falls State Park in Rutherford County

Nestled in White County, Tennessee—near the midpoint between Knoxville and Murfreesboro, the county seat of Rutherford County—Virgin Falls State Natural Area beckons adventurers with its secluded trails and enchanting waterfalls. Originally set aside as a protected area by a paper and pulp company, the land was acquired by Tennessee in 2012; today, it offers a unique hiking experience with dramatic waterfalls, caves, and diverse wildlife. 

The main attraction, Virgin Falls, showcases water sourced from a cave, plunging 110 feet before disappearing into another cavern. It requires some work to get to the cave, however: the in-and-out hike covers approximately 9 miles and is considered strenuous or difficult. For many, it’s well worth the work. 

Exploring the area, hikers can also discover nearby waterfalls like Big Laurel, Big Branch Falls, and Sheep Cave Falls, which are accessible via hiking trails that wind through caves, waterfalls, and other natural features. The challenging hike spans 5-8 hours, so make sure you pack enough food, water, and gear for the journey. Keep an eye out for protected plant and animal species as you traverse the rugged terrain. Visit Virgin Falls State Natural Area at 2080 Scotts Gulf Road in Sparta for a memorable outdoor adventure.

Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park

Discover the ancient Native American burial mounds and rich history at Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park, a significant site boasting the largest collection of Middle Woodland Period mounds in the nation. The nearest city to the park is Henderson, and it’s roughly 100 miles east of Memphis and 130 miles southwest of Downtown Nashville. The park offers:

  • A museum constructed like a Native American mound, featuring exhibits on the area's history and a library for archaeology enthusiasts.
  • Hiking trails that meander around the ancient Indian mounds provide a glimpse into the area's past.
  • Picnic areas equipped with tables and grills, perfect for a relaxing meal surrounded by history.

Whether you're interested in exploring the archaeological significance of the mounds, embarking on a scenic hike, or enjoying a leisurely picnic, Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park offers a unique and enriching experience. Don't miss the chance to visit this remarkable site and immerse yourself in the cultural heritage of Tennessee.

Fiery Gizzard Trail in South Cumberland State Park

Visit South Cumberland State Park in Monteagle, TN

The Fiery Gizzard Trail in South Cumberland State Park offers hikers a diverse and enthralling outdoor experience, showcasing stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife. The trail stretches from Tracy City to Foster Falls, boasting a variety of attractions that make it a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts. South Cumberland State Park is located in the town of Monteagle, which is between 60 and 90 miles from Nashville’s top suburbs

The park covers more than 12,000 acres, so there’s always something new to explore there. Here are three reasons why the Fiery Gizzard Trail stands out:

  • Scenic Beauty: Traverse along Fiery Gizzard Creek and marvel at the breathtaking views from Raven Point's 500-foot overlook. The trail allows you to explore the canyon rim all the way to the majestic Foster Falls.
  • Rich Biodiversity: Encountering 636 plant species and diverse wildlife, including bumblebees, hummingbirds, and non-aggressive snakes, adds an element of adventure to your hike. Keep an eye out for possible mink sightings near the invigorating swimming holes.
  • National Recognition: Recognized by Backpacker magazine as one of the top 25 hiking trails in the United States, the Fiery Gizzard Trail promises a memorable and rewarding outdoor experience for hikers of all levels.

Alum Trail to Mt. LeConte

Hike the Alum Trail to Mt. LeConte in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a challenging yet rewarding outdoor adventure with scenic views and historical landmarks along the way. The 11-mile round trip with an elevation gain of 2,763 feet offers interesting sights like remarkable rocks and historical sites. While considered challenging, it's not technically difficult. 

Be prepared for changing weather conditions, with icy patches in winter and early spring and muddy sections in summer. Proper footwear and layered clothing are essential for this trek. The trail culminates at LeConte Lodge, where hikers can find lodging and food. 

Mt. LeConte is located in eastern Tennessee—approximately 50 miles southeast of Knoxville—near the border with North Carolina. The summit of Mount LeConte provides panoramic views, with even better vistas at Myrtle Point, just 0.4 miles further. Cliff Top, located near the lodge, also offers stunning scenic views. Enjoy the journey and the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains on this memorable hike.

Point Trail at Lilly Bluff in Obed Wild & Scenic River - Wartburg

Tucked away in the Obed Wild & Scenic River area near Wartburg, a variety of trails await exploration, including the Point Trail at Lilly Bluff. Along this trail, you will encounter mesmerizing cliffs, serene forests, babbling creeks, and intriguing rock formations. To make a full day in the area, hikers can enjoy a whitewater rafting trip or fishing on the river. Keep your eyes peeled as you might be lucky enough to spot some wildlife amidst the natural beauty surrounding you.

  • Trail Variety: Explore four different trails at Lilly Bluff, each offering a unique hiking experience.
  • Overlook Trail: An easy 0.3-mile trail leading to a rocky spot with a stunning view of the river gorge, suitable for strollers and wheelchairs.
  • Point Trail: A moderate to strenuous 3.8-mile round-trip trail passing by a stream, a hidden arch, and a secluded viewpoint.

Immerse yourself in the wonders of nature as you traverse the Point Trail at Lilly Bluff, taking in the sights and sounds of this picturesque hiking destination.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

Visit Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

Explore the scenic Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a 5.5-mile loop road showcasing rushing mountain streams and historic buildings, offering a favorite side trip for Smokies visitors. Before hitting the trail, take a stroll along the Noah 'Bud' Ogle self-guiding nature trail, where you can immerse yourself in a mountain farmstead setting and marvel at the surrounding hardwood forest. Witness the streamside tubmill and the handcrafted wooden flume plumbing system, adding a historical touch to your adventure.

Abrams Falls

Another hike located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Abrams Falls features a 20-foot drop and a picturesque pool, making it a must-see destination for hikers seeking natural beauty. The 5-mile moderate hike through diverse forests leads to this impressive sight, but swimming at the base is dangerous due to powerful currents. Here are some essential points to keep in mind before starting on this adventure:

  • The trail starts after stop #10 on Cades Cove Loop Road.
  • Wear sturdy hiking shoes as parts of the trail are rocky.
  • Remember, pets and bicycles are not allowed on the trail.

As you explore the Abram Falls Trails near Maryville, remember to stay safe by avoiding slippery rocks near the waterfall, crossing the three narrow log bridges carefully, and being cautious about the hike's duration to guarantee you return before dark. Enjoy the beauty of this natural wonder, located 50 miles south of Knoxville.

Snooper's Rock Trail

When hiking the Snooper's Rock Trail in Prentice Cooper State Forest near Chattanooga, prepare for a day filled with diverse outdoor activities. The forest boasts 35 hiking trails that make for an ideal day trip from the city. Besides hiking, visitors can engage in activities like rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and camping in the park.

To start your Snooper's Rock adventure, head to the Cumberland Trail parking lot, cross the road to reach the trailhead, pass by notable landmarks such as Stone Door and Indian Rockhouse, and after about 3 miles, take a left to reach the Snooper's Rock overlook. It's advisable to wear waterproof boots as you might encounter creek crossings along the way.

During winter, hikers are treated to picturesque views of the Tennessee River. While summer foliage may obstruct some scenery, the trail culminates in a breathtaking vista of the Tennessee River Gorge from Snooper's Rock. Snooper's Rock is a popular spot, but be cautious of park closures during hunting season.

Tennessee’s Top Hiking

In Tennessee, the trails are more than just paths through the wilderness—they're gateways to unforgettable experiences and cherished memories. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a novice looking to get the lay of the land upon moving to Tennessee, the state's diverse landscapes offer something for everyone, from challenging treks to leisurely strolls. So, lace up your boots, pack your backpack, and set out to discover the wonders awaiting you along Tennessee's trails. No matter if you're chasing waterfalls in the Smokies or traversing the Cumberland Trail's rugged beauty, the journey will leave you inspired, refreshed, and eager to return for more adventures in the great outdoors.

Ready to move to the great state of Tennessee? Call The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage with Nashville's MLS at (615) 603-3602 to talk with a real estate agent who can help you find your dream Tennessee home.


Gary Ashton

The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage

The #1 RE/MAX team in the World!

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