Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Recreation in the Cherokee National Forest

Cherokee National Forest offers many recreation activities. There is something for every group, family, individual or couple to enjoy. Hikers, boaters, fishermen and outdoor recreation enthusiasts flock here from all over.

Bald River Falls
Cherokee National Forest
My family has never failed to have a great time visiting the Cherokee National Forest. Scenic beauty calls to all who care to hear. Recreation opportunities are behind every tree.

One of the reasons that people come from all over to visit the Cherokee National Forest is its proximity to much of the U.S. It is adjacent to the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina and other similarly designated lands in Virginia and Georgia. This East Tennessee region of the Appalachian Mountains t is within a day's drive of most of the eastern half of the country.

Almost every time of recreation activity imaginable is available here. My family has been several times and can never get enough of the mountains.The Cherokee National Forest was named for the Cherokee Indians who once made their homes in the region. Land was designated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936.
The tract is so large that it covers portions of ten East Tennessee counties. The Department of Agriculture headquarters for the Cherokee National Forest is in Cleveland, TN.

My family doesn't get the opportunity to hike often. When we do the hikes are short. That hasn't kept us from enjoying recreation on small segments of the Appalachian Trail. This footpath stretches from Maine to Georgia and goes through the Cherokee National Forest. Trailheads are close to parking lots in many locations.

The Ocoee River has featured in movies and is known its spectacular whitewater rapids. Some consider it to be one of the crowned jewels of the Cherokee National Forest. Outfitters in the communities and towns near the river can provide you with everything you need for a day of recreation. Visitors can enjoy the full force of the rapids, ride in a tube on the gentle parts of the water or have a picnic by the river.

One of the favorite recreation activities of my family is to drive the Cherohala Skyway in the Cherokee National Forest. The road is about 40 miles long and travels over stunning landscape. The auto tour takes visitors by trailheads, picnic spots and a campground with recreation area.

There are numerous places to stay in the Cherokee National Forest. Available campgrounds and RV parks are locally owned and offer recreation opportunities. There are also a few government owned campgrounds. Bed and breakfast locations are popular. Some nationally recognized hotel brands are in nearby towns.

Lake in Cherokee National Forest
Non-motorized boats are welcome on many of the streams and rivers in the Cherokee National Forest. Both the Ocoee and Indian Boundary Campground offer boat launches for recreation use. Visitors should check the USDA website to learn more about the section of river they are interested in. The link is in the resource section of this article.

Visitors to the Cherokee National Forest should plan in advance for gasoline, food and other essentials. The forest interior can be remote and rugged. Recreation areas in this part of the forest require advance planning. It is wise to bring a picnic, water and personal items with you.

We have found that food and gasoline are unavailable in many sections of the forest. Recreation visits to communities along the edge of the Cherokee National Forest may need less planning. Stores, restaurants and gas stations are more readily available on the outskirts.

Depending on where you live and your level of interest the Cherokee National Forest can be a day trip for recreation or week long vacation. Either way, there is no end to the number of recreation opportunities to choose from.