Cherokee National Forest

Cherokee National Forest

Quick Facts

Cherokee National Forest

Tennessee

(423) 476-9700

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Cherokee National Forest (NF) is located in eastern Tennessee and stretches from Chattanooga to Bristol along the North Carolina border. The 650,000-acre forest is the largest tract of public land in Tennessee, set aside in July of 1936 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It lies in the heart of the Southern Appalachian mountain range, one of the world's most diverse areas. These mountains are home to more than 20,000 species of plants and animals. It is a place of scenic beauty that provides opportunities for anyone interested in nature and history.

The majestic mountains, tumbling streams, and diverse vegetation in the Cherokee NF provides for a variety of recreational opportunities. Discover the 30 developed campgrounds, 30 picnic areas, 700 miles of trail, hundreds of miles of cold water streams, seven whitewater rivers, and abundant populations of wildlife that are found in Cherokee NF.

Map of Cherokee Nat'l Forest

Latitude, Longitude: 35.164266, -84.871445

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Activities

  • Boating

    Please contact park services for more information.

  • Bicycling

    Please contact park services for more information.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Motorized trail opportunities are limited to suitable areas on the Cherokee NF. Designated trails and open roads with low maintenance levels provide some opportunities for street legal motorcycles and 4-wheel drive vehicles to access remote, scenic settings on the Forest.

    Certain roads in the Cherokee NF are closed to motorized vehicle use to help protect wildlife habitat, decrease wildlife disturbance and reduce road maintenance costs. However, some of these roads are temporarily opened for short periods to provide seasonal public access for various uses including fall color viewing, hunting, and other uses. The annual seasonal road management schedule is developed cooperatively by the Forest Service and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

    Roads may be closed earlier than scheduled due to poor road conditions brought on by extreme weather. These weather conditions may include freezing/thawing, extreme drought, fire danger or storm damage. In the event roads must be closed earlier than expected, public notice will be made. For more information about road closures, contact the following U.S. Forest Service offices: Nolichucky/Unaka Ranger Station, Greeneville, TN - Phone: 423-638-4109; Watauga Ranger Station, Unicoi, TN - Phone: 423-735-1500.

  • Camping

    Places to camp in Cherokee NF vary from primitive sites with no facilities to developed campgrounds that offer electricity and bathhouses. Three developed campgrounds in Cherokee NF require reservations, all other campsites are available on a first come, first served basis. Campsites must be occupied the first night and camping equipment cannot be left unattended for more than 24 hours. Please be aware that most developed campgrounds have fees & seasonal closures and general rules & regulations apply to camping on Cherokee NF.

  • Fishing

    Wild trout, rainbow, brown and native brookies, are present in most of the mountain streams above 1000 feet in elevation. Brown trout often live for many years and can reach 15 to 20 inches in some of the larger streams. Typical rainbow and brook trout streams will have three year classes with the largest wild trout being 12 inches. Although the wild trout streams usually lack large individuals, there are always abundant numbers. Another advantage of Southern Appalachian trout streams is that they are fishable year-round. Ice cover on the streams is rare; winter water temperatures seldom stay near freezing for more than a week. Successful fly fishing may be had during the months of December and January since some spring fed streams maintain water temperatures in the 40's or even low 50's.

  • Hiking

    Over 600 miles of non-motorized trails traverse Cherokee NF including the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and four other nationally designated trails. Most trails are designated for multiple use: foot, bike and horse.

  • Historic Sites

    Please contact park services for more information.

  • Horseback Riding

    Please contact park services for more information.

  • Hunting

    A variety of game animals are hunted in the Cherokee NF. Wild turkey, ruffed grouse, white-tailed deer, black bear, wild boar, squirrel, raccoon, etc can be found throughout the Forest.

    Most of the Cherokee NF is open for hunting within legal seasons. Six bear reserves are closed to bear hunting and to hunting wild boar with dogs. Areas such as recreation and administrative sites are closed to hunting. It is illegal to shoot any firearm across or from roads or vehicles. When using trails to access hunting areas please be careful and mindful that other Forest visitors may be in the area.

    Hunting seasons, bag limits and license & permit requirements are set by the TWRA for the Cherokee WMA (National Forest). To hunt the Cherokee NF, a valid Tennessee hunting license is required. In addition, a Cherokee WMA Nonquota Big Game Permit (Type 095, Type 167 or Type 94) or Sportsman License is required to hunt the nonquota big game and turkey hunts in the Cherokee NF. No WMA permit is required to hunt small game in the Cherokee WMA.

  • Picnicking

    Picnic sites available.

  • RVing

    Some sites may be RV accessible.

  • Water Sports

    Whitewater runs through the mountains of Cherokee NF creating deep river gorges, world-class whitewater, premier trout streams, scenic waterfalls and reservoirs with undeveloped shorelines. Contact Cherokee NF for information about water based recreation activities.

  • Winter Sports

    Please contact park services for more information.

Directions

Driving

There are many access routes into this long, sweeping forest. From Johnson City in the north, routes include State highways 23 and 11E. From Chattanooga in the south, primary access is State highways 74 and 411.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(423) 476-9700

Campground reservations

(877) 444-6777

Links