Monday, October 13, 2014

Fall Color in the Cherokee National Forest: Tennessee Overhill

Tennessee Overhill of the Cherokee National Forest is a designated Scenic By-Way and one of the best fall color drives in the state. The Appalachian Mountains come alive in a cacophony of colors. Cherokee heritage, trails, and photo opportunities are never ending. Fall colors only add to the experience.

Cherokee National Forest
The Tennessee Overhill area takes its name from Cherokee towns that once dotted the Appalachian Mountain landscape. My family always enjoys the many things to see and do in Cherokee National Forest. Fall is always a stunning time to visit.

Many people will make this drive a day trip. Access to the Tennessee Overhill of the Cherokee National Forest is just over an hour from Knoxville or Chattanooga. Parts of Tennessee and North Carolina mountains are parts of the Tennessee Overhill.

Overnight opportunities are available throughout the Cherokee National Forest for those who are interested in a longer trip. Choose from lodges, campgrounds and RV parks, bed and breakfast spots and even cabins. Hotels and motels can also be found. All are surrounded by fall color.

Lodging opportunities in the Tennessee Overhill of the Cherokee National Forest are usually on a first come, first served basis. Fall color travel season can be busy. Advance reservations are suggested. Those wishing to reserve a national park campground can do so in advance by calling 1.877.444.6777.

Two national designated Scenic By-ways in the Cherokee National Forest are the Cherohola Skyway and the Ocoee Scenic Byway. Other fall color driving trails feature Cherokee cultural heritage, crafts and the Furs to Factories Heritage Trail.

Each one of these Tennessee Overhill fall color tours take travelers through different parts of the Cherokee National Forest and Overhill area. Each trail is self-guided. Free maps can be downloaded Tennessee Overhill Education Commission website listed below. These will help travelers plan a route that interests them the most.

Recreational opportunities available in the Tennessee Overhill in the Cherokee National Forest Tennessee includes a rail journey. With an advance purchase, visitors can park the car and take a railroad excursion on Hiwassee River Rail Adventure. Pick it up at the gateway to the Cherokee National Forest in Etowah, TN.

Not interested in fall color rail travel? Visitors can take in museums, hike to one of the many waterfalls or just ride on one of the Scenic By-ways in the Cherokee National Forest.

Along with fall color, visitors will absorb Tennessee Overhill heritage. Several sites in the Cherokee National Forest are on the National Register of Historic Places. Archaeological evidence shows that this part of the Appalachian Mountain was occupied by small groups as early as 10,000 years ago.

The drive to see fall colors in the Tennessee Overhill goes through rural mountain areas of the Cherokee National Forest and past larger cities. Cell phone signals may be inconsistent. Mom and pop restaurants dot the route. Larger chain restaurants are found in relatively larger towns like Athens or Sweetwater in Tennessee.

Getting lunch from one of these small eateries can add fun to a fall color trip. However, it may be helpful to bring a picnic or snacks along. Gas can be found in the larger cities and in communities along the route.

Additional travel information on the Tennessee Overhill can be picked up from the Cherohala Skyway Visitors Center in Tellico Plains, from the Etowah Chamber of Commerce and other points in the Cherokee National Forest. Brochures and information on are also available by calling 1.877.510.5765 or online at

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