Opportunities to hike are abundant in Tennessee. State parks, national forests, national parks, and wildlife refuges are just a few of the areas where you will find places for a walk in the woods.
High-profile hiking trails such as the Appalachian Trail in the eastern mountains are indeed special. But lesser-known walks are often equally spectacular, and the best hike may well be the one closest to where you are right now.
Day hikes require just a few pieces of gear: comfortable and sturdy shoes; a day pack with water, food, and a map; and several layers of clothing, especially during volatile spring and fall months. In the winter, it’s a good idea to bring a change of socks and extra layers of warm clothes.
Other gear is optional: A walking stick makes rough or steep terrain a bit easier and a camera is always a nice idea.
Whenever you go hiking, be sure to tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Cell phones many not work on the trail.
Many state parks and the national parks in the eastern mountains welcome overnight hikers. Backpackers must carry lightweight tents, sleeping bags, food, and extra gear on their backs. They must also register in advance. You can sometimes reserve backcountry campsites. These campsites offer little more than a clearing for your tent and a ring of stones for your fire. Some are built near sources of water. Some trails have overnight shelters, especially nice in winter.
Hiking is probably the single best way to experience Tennessee’s nature, and there are few better ways to spend a day or two.