Description - Variety is the key word for outdoor recreation in Tennessee's only National Forest. The Cherokee National Forest offers abundant recreation for every type to appeal to just about everyone. The 633,000 acre forest stretches along Tennessee's eastern border from Chattanooga to Bristol and lies in ten counties.
The north portion of the Cherokee Forest is divided into the Nolichucky District, the Unaka District and the Watauga District. The south portion is divided into the Hiwassee District, the Tellico District and the Ocoee District.
- No matter what your objective, on land or water, you'll find the developed and natural facilities in this National Forest. Several rivers with whitewater possibilities exist in this preserve. The Nolichucky, French Broad, Tellico, Conasauga, Ocoee and Hiwassee Rivers provide opportunities for water sports. Outfitter services are available on the Nolichucky, French Broad, Ocoee and Hiwassee rivers for whitewater rafting. Designated swimming areas are located at Parksville, McKamy, Indian Boundary, South Holston and Watauga Lakes; Horse Creek and Rock Creek Recreation Areas. Boating access points include Parksville, Indian Boundary, Watauga and South Holston Lakes.
Thousands of people travel to Ocoee region every year to challenge the Ocoee River's mighty rapids, swim in countless "dry river" pools or simply view the lush beauty of the Ocoee River Gorge along the Ocoee Scenic Byway. The creation of the Cherokee National Forest's Ocoee Whitewater Center, site of the 1996 Olympic Slalom Canoe/Kayak Events, established the Ocoee River as one of the best whitewater rivers in the world. It also firmly established the Ocoee Region as an outdoor recreation mecca. The Ocoee Whitewater Center is open to visitors. The also area offers hiking and mountain biking trails.
About 10% of the Cherokee National Forest is designated wilderness. One hundred fifty miles of the exceptionally scenic Appalachian Trail pass through it. The trail traverses areas with colloquial place-names like Buzzard Roost Ridge, Locust Pole Knob, Beauty Spot, Jane Bald and a host of locations commemorating Appalachian family names.
Recreation - Popular recreation activities on Cherokee National Forest lands include hiking, camping, fishing, boating, water skiing, horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting, orienteering, bird watching, and nature photography.
Most developed campgrounds are open from late Spring through Fall on a first-come, first-served basis. For those who prefer camping without developed amenities, primitive camping is permitted throughout the Cherokee National Forest unless posted. Each Ranger District has a number of picnic areas along shady streams and lakes or within view of spectacular mountain scenery. Individual sites are equipped with tables and grills.
Climate - The climate of the east Tennessee mountains is temperate with moderately cold winters and warm, humid summers. Precipitation is fairly well distributed throughout the year; there are no wet or dry seasons. October has the least rainfall, July the most. Snowfall is quite variable from year to year, and some winters have relatively little. Thunderstorms occur most frequently in spring and summer but can occur in any month.
The Cherokee National Forest lies in the mountains of southeastern Tennessee. It borders Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Forest is headquartered in Cleveland, Tennessee, with offices also in Greenville, Benton, Tellico and Unicoi.