Trail Of Tears National Historic Trail

Things To Do

Numerous programs and activities are available at developed sites and in communities along the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. Contact individual sites and tourism centers for more information.

Non-federal historic sites, trail segments, and interpretive facilities become part of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail through certification. This is a voluntary process in which an owner or manager agrees to adhere to National Park Service standards for resource preservation and visitor use. Look for the official trail logo at all certified locations.

Public lands and state, county, and city parks along the trail route preserve trail resources. Although not yet certified, they may be open for public use. Other trail sites are on non-profit or private property and may not be open to the public.

Chattanooga Regional History Museum

Please contact the site for hours of visitation and closures.

Phone: (423) 423-3247

Location: The Chattanooga Regional History Museum is located in downtown Chattanooga, at 400 Chestnut Street, which is at the corner of 4th and Chestnut streets.

Exhibits: The museum offers permanent and changing exhibits related to Chattanooga and regional history. American Indians, Cherokee culture, and the Trail of Tears are topics featured in the facility's exhibits.

Available Facilities: The museum has a gift shop, theater, and restrooms. It is certified on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, and is operated by the Chattanooga Regional History Museum.

Visit the Chattanooga Regional History Museum website at www.chattanoogahistory.com/

Nearby Attractions

There are some nearby areas that are related to the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.

National Park Service areas on the trail include:

Arkansas Post National Memorial, Arkansas www.nps.gov/arpo

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Georgia www.nps.gov/chch

Fort Smith National Historic Site, Arkansas www.nps.gov/fosm

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina www.nps.gov/grsm

Pea Ridge National Military Park, Arkansas www.nps.gov/peri

Stones River National Battlefield, Tennessee www.nps.gov/stri

USDA Forest Service areas include:

Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/marktwain/

and the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/shawnee/

Cherokee County Historical Museum, North Carolina

Please contact the site for hours of visitation and closures.

Phone: (828) 837-6792

Location: The Cherokee County Historical Museum is located in the two-story, stone Carnegie Library Building, 87 Peachtree Street, in Murphy, North Carolina.

Exhibits: Trail of Tears exhibits are being developed for the first floor of the museum.

Available Facilities: The museum has a small sales area and restrooms. It is certified on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, and is operated by Cherokee County Historical Museum, Inc.

Places To Go

There are many places of history and commemoration on the Trail of Tears for you to visit. All of these sites participate in the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. Please contact a site for closures or changes in hours before you go.

Lake Dardanelle, Arkansas

Please contact the site for hours of visitation and closures.

Phone: (479) 967-5516

Location: Lake Dardanelle State Park is at 2428 Marina Road, which is 4 miles west of Russellville, off State Highway 326 in Pope County, Arkansas. The visitor center is certified on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, and the state park is operated by the Department of Parks and Tourism, Arkansas State Parks Division. Lake Dardanelle is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Special Programs: Interpretive programs include guided hikes, nature talks, demonstrations, and evening slide shows and movies. Off-season programs and hikes are available, and groups may request special programs, arranged in advance.

Exhibits: The Trail of Tears is interpreted in exhibits in the visitor center. A large outdoor exhibit about the trail is being planned for the park. The lake includes the historic and modern channels of the Arkansas River, which are part of the water route of the Trail of Tears.

Available Facilities: Lake Dardanelle State Park offers a wide range of recreation opportunities, including fishing, swimming, picnicking, boating, and camping. A visitor center offers interpretive displays.

Visit the Lake Dardanelle website at www.arkansasstateparks.com/lakedardanelle

Chief Vann House, Georgia

Please contact the site for hours of visitation and closures.

Phone: (706) 695-2598

Location: The Chief Vann House State Historic Site is at the intersection of Georgia Routes 225 and 52A, on the outskirts of Chatsworth, Murray County, Georgia.

Special Programs: Guided tours of the historic house are provided for all visitors.

Exhibits: A new 3,000-square foot interpretive center contains exhibits about the Vann family, Cherokee Nation, and Trail of Tears. A collection of artifacts, furnishings, and other items is on display.

Available Facilities: The Chief Vann House Historic Site is a 23-acre park containing a two-story brick mansion built in 1804 by James Vann, a wealthy Cherokee chief. Interpretation focuses on the Vanns, a prominent Cherokee family living there in the early 1800s prior to the Trail of Tears. The state historic site also contains an interpretive center, 50-seat theater, sales area, picnic area, and 1-mile self-guiding trail to the Vann historic spring. Wheelchair-accessible parking and restrooms are available. The historic house is not wheelchair accessible; the staff provides a video tour. The State of Georgia Department of Natural Resources manages the site, a certified site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.

Sequoyah Birthplace Museum, Tennessee

Please contact the site for hours of visitation and closures.

Phone: (423) 922-2474

Location: The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum is along Tennessee Route 360, approximately 1 mile east of Vonore, Tennessee.

Special Programs: An Appalachian and American Indian arts and crafts festival is held on the grounds every September.

Exhibits: Museum exhibits trace American Indian history in the region, beginning with the Paleo-Indian period. A video presentation, map, and pictorial display tell the Trail of Tears story. Artifacts related to the Trail of Tears, Cherokee history, and southeastern American Indian history are displayed.

Available Facilities: Facilities include a museum, gift shop, archives, amphitheater, and educational pavilion. Wheelchair-accessible restrooms are available. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (Tennessee Board Friends of Sequoyah) manage the museum and surrounding grounds, a certified interpretive facility on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.

Museum of the Cherokee Indian, North Carolina

Please contact the site for hours of visitation and closures.

Phone: (828) 497-3481

Location: The Museum of the Cherokee Indian is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 441 and Drama Road in Cherokee, North Carolina.

Exhibits: New museum exhibits combine technology (lighting and audio, holograms, computer-generated images) and a display of artifacts.

Available Facilities: The museum facility includes a gift shop, archives, and library. It meets wheelchair accessibility standards. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians operates the museum, a certified interpretive facility for the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.

Visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian website at www.cherokeemuseum.org/

Cherokee National Museum, Oklahoma

Please contact the site for hours of visitation and closures.

Phone: (918) 456-6007

Location: The Cherokee National Museum is 3 miles south of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, in the old Cherokee community of Park Hill. To reach the museum from Tahlequah, take Muskogee Avenue (also called Main Street, Highway 62, and Highway 10) south 3 miles to Willis Road. Turn left and go 1 mile. The Cherokee National Museum is a long natural-stone building in the center of the Cherokee Heritage Center complex.

Exhibits: Permanent exhibits interpret the Trail of Tears, depicting events leading to, through, and beyond removal. These exhibits are physically and programmatically accessible for all visitors. Temporary exhibits are directly related to American Indian history, culture, and art. The museum's collection includes artifacts and archival material related directly to the trail, and to subsequent events.

Available Facilities: The museum is part of the Cherokee Heritage Center complex. The museum contains exhibits, a gift shop, archives, and library. On the grounds are a reconstructed 17th-century village community, a reconstructed late-19th-century Cherokee crossroads community, a prayer chapel, and a theater. Facilities meet federal accessibility standards for people with disabilities. The Cherokee National Historical Society, Inc. operates the heritage center, a certified interpretive facility for the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.

Visit the Cherokee National Museum website at www.cherokeeheritage.org/

Audubon Acres, Tennessee

Please contact the site for hours of visitation and closures.

Phone (423) 892-1499

Location: Audubon Acres is at 900 North Sanctuary Road in Chattanooga, Tennesee. From I-75, take Exit 3A to E. Brainerd Road - East. At the second traffic light, turn right onto Gunbarrel Road. Follow Gunbarrel Road as it becomes North Sanctuary Road until it reaches the dead end at Audubon Acres - a distance of about two miles from E. Brainerd Road.

Special Programs: Schools and other groups can schedule programs and guided tours. Special events are periodically scheduled on the property.

Exhibits: At Audubon Acres, visitors can learn about the typical agricultural life and level of acculturation experienced by the Cherokee at the time of removal. The visitor center has exhibits on the Trail of Tears Brainerd Mission site, and on Cherokee culture.

Available Facilities: Audubon Acres, also known as the Elise Chapin Wildlife Sanctuary, contains 120 acres of natural preserve along the Chickamauga Creek. A log cabin on the property known as "Spring Frog Cabin" is said to have been the home of Drowning Bear, a Cherokee full blood who was removed on the Trail of Tears. There is a staffed visitor center with exhibits. The sanctuary is certified on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, and is owned and operated by the Chattanooga Audubon Society, Inc.

Visit the Audubon Acres website at www.chattanoogaaudubon.org

Brainerd Mission Cemetery, Tennessee

Open: Monday through Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Location: The cemetery is just under an acre and is located off of Brainerd Road and Eastgate Loop Road in the Brainerd Village Shopping Center, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Closures: Fence gates are locked each Sunday.

Exhibits: There is an exhibit signboard at the site. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions developed the site originally as a mission within the Cherokee Nation. The property, buildings, and improvements were purchased from John McDonald, the grandfather of Cherokee Chief John Ross. The mission was the principal mission among other, smaller ones within the Cherokee Nation, and served as a training ground for the American Board. At the height of its operation, the developed mission complex consisted of 50 acres, and contained some 40 buildings, including, among others, boarding houses, boys' and girls' schools and churches, houses, a mill, barns, warehouses, carpenters' and blacksmiths' shops, as well as extensive fields, gardens, and orchards. During removal, the missionaries sympathized with the Cherokee and most missionaries accompanied the Cherokee prior to forced removal on the Trail of Tears. On August 18, 1838, the last church service was held at the Brainerd Mission near the cemetery. The mission subsequently closed.

Available Facilities: Today, the site of the Brainerd Mission is mostly covered by the Brainerd Village shopping center. What remains is the cemetery, owned and managed since the 1930s by five local Chattanooga chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the one local Chattanooga chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. The cemetery is certified on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.

Visit the Brainerd Mission Cemetery website at www.rootsweb.com/~tnhamilt/brndmssn.htm

Trail of Tears Park, Kentucky

Please contact the park for hours of visitation and closures.

Phone: (270) 886-8033

Location: The Trail of Tears Commemorative Park is at U.S. Highway 41 and Skyline Drive in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

Exhibits: The Heritage Center contains two rooms of exhibits interpreting the Cherokee Nation, the Trail of Tears, and various American Indian tribes and their respective removal histories.

Available Facilities: The 12.5-acre park contains the graves of Fly Smith and Whitepath, two Cherokee chiefs who died along the Trail of Tears. On site is a Cherokee memorial with a circle of flags. A two-room historic log cabin (relocated to the park) serves as a visitor center/museum (Heritage Center). A picnic area and wheelchair-accessible restrooms are available. The Trail of Tears Commission, Inc., manages the park, a certified site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.

Visit the park website at www.trailoftears.org

Trail of Tears State Park, Missouri

Please contact the park for hours of visitation and closures.

Phone: (573) 334-1711

Location: Trail of Tears State Park is on Missouri Route 177 about 8 miles north of Cape Girardeau, and 8 miles east of Jackson, Missouri. The Mississippi River is the park's east boundary.

Exhibits: Visitor center exhibits interpret the Trail of Tears and the area's natural history.

Available Facilities: The park contains two trail-related resources: the site of Green's Ferry (Willard's Landing); and the commemorative site believed to be the grave of Nancy Bushyhead, a Cherokee who died on the Trail of Tears. About 2 miles of park road follow the historic Green's Ferry (Moccasin Spring) Road, the actual route of the Trail of Tears. The 3,416-acre state park also contains a wide range of facilities, including boat ramps, campgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, visitor center, laundry, and hot showers. Most of the park facilities are wheelchair accessible, including parking, restrooms, visitor center, and campgrounds. The State of Missouri Department of Natural Resources manages the park, a certified site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.

Chieftains Museum Major Ridge Home, Georgia

Please contact the site for hours of visitation and closures.

Phone: (706) 291-9494

Location: The Chieftains Museum/Major Ridge Home is at 501 Riverside Parkway N.E., between the Georgia 53 spur and U.S. 27, in Rome, Georgia.

Special Programs: The museum serves as a cultural center, and offers local artists and annual and special events.

Exhibits: The Chieftains tells the story of Major Ridge, the influential Ridge family including prominent son John Ridge, Cherokee history, and the Trail of Tears, as well as subsequent history of the home and region. Eventually, Major Ridge along with a minority of others that later came to be known as the "Treaty Party," began to advocate removal as the only option to preserve the Cherokee people and were leaders in the signing in 1835 of the Treaty of New Echota that resulted in Cherokee removal. The museum houses permanent and temporary exhibits about the the Ridge Family, Trail of Tears, and Cherokee culture. The exhibits also feature artifacts from archeological digs onsite.

Available Facilities: The museum property (almost six acres) includes the Major Ridge Home and grounds, recently excavated archeological foundations of outbuildings, wooded areas and shoreline of the Oostanaula River, and a ferry site. The Gaynelle Parrish Grizzard Center for Cherokee Studies, in an adapted historic structure onsite, is used for classes, lectures, workshops, and demonstrations related to the interpretation and understanding of Cherokee history and culture. The museum has a gift shop and accessible restrooms. The site is certified on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail and is operated by Chieftains Museum, Inc.

Visit the Chieftains Museum/Major Ridge Home website at www.chieftainsmuseum.org/

Red Clay State Historic Park, Tennessee

Please contact the park for hours of visitation and closures.

Phone: (423) 478-0339

Location: Red Clay State Historic Park is at 1140 Red Clay Park Road SW in Bradley County, Tennessee. It is along the Tennessee-Georgia state line about 17 miles southeast of Chattanooga.

Exhibits: Visitor center exhibits interpret day-to-day Cherokee life in the early 1800s, and the Cherokee removal. A video about the Cherokee and the Trail of Tears is shown. Artifacts are displayed, including prehistoric stone implements.

Available Facilities: The 260-acre park contains a visitor center (James F. Corn Interpretive Center), theater, library, amphitheater, picnic shelter, and hiking trails. Replicas of 19th-century Cherokee buildings include a council house, farmhouse, barn, corn crib, and three sleeping huts. The park contains a natural landmark, the Blue Hole Spring. Wheelchair-accessible parking, restrooms, trails, and other facilities are available. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Bureau of State Parks, manages the site, a certified site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.

George M Murrell House, Oklahoma

Please contact the site for hours of visitation and closures.

Phone: (918) 456-2751

Location: The George M. Murrell House is at 19479 E. Murrell Home Road, in Park Hill, 1 mile southeast of the junction of State highways 62 and 82, and 4 miles southwest of Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

Special Programs: Group tours can be arranged by appointment. The site hosts an 1850s lawn social during the first weekend in June, and ghost stories on the last Friday and Saturday in October.

Exhibits: The home is being restored, and contains original and period artifacts and furnishings.

Available Facilities: George Murrell built this two-story, antebellum, Greek Revival plantation home about 1845. Murrell was married to Minerva Ross, the niece of Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross, and the daughter of Lewis Ross. Both of these men played pivotal roles during the Cherokee removal. The home represents the re-development of the Cherokee Nation after removal, and the lifestyle of some people in the Cherokee Nation prior to the Civil War. The plantation home sits on 40 acres of ground, and includes the original spring house, smoke house, picnic area, playground, creek, and nature trail. The site is certified on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, and is owned by the Oklahoma Historical Society.