Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest: An Excellent Choice for Hiking

If you are looking for some adventurous and challenging hiking trails that are a little off the beaten path, then visiting Cherokee National Forest is a good idea. It’s also Tennessee’s biggest wildlife management agency in Tennessee.

It’s not as busy as the Great Smoky Mountains, which means hiking here is usually a little more peaceful as you won’t see as many fellow hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders on the trails. However, because the hiking trails don’t see as many people on them, they tend to be a little more rugged and rougher; so make sure you are up for the challenge and are well prepared.

(photo credit: josephleenovak)

For rougher terrain, it’s a good idea to make sure you take along some sturdy hiking poles as they can turn out to be your best friends. A good set of poles will be like adding a third and fourth leg to your body. The poles can help you navigate the trails that are strewn with loose sticks, jagged rocks and large protruding tree roots. If you should happen to lose your footing while stumbling on anything along the hiking trails you can count on the poles to help you stay on your feet. Some hikers prefer to use just one pole and others prefer to take two with them.

You’ll also need a good pair of hiking boots while in Cherokee National Forest. It’s important that the boots are also sturdy and offer your feet adequate insulation as well as solid support for your arches. However, it doesn’t matter how good the boots are if they don’t fit properly, so make sure they’re comfortable. Also, don’t forget to take along a backpack, food, water, first aid kit, flashlight, fire-starting equipment and a poncho. You may want to use a hydration bladder when it comes to drinking water as they have tubes which can be accessed from your backpack.

It’s possible that you may run into some black bears while hiking in Cherokee National Forest as there are quite a few of them there. They’re generally quite afraid of humans, but this is no guarantee against a wild, random attack. It’d be a wise idea to take along a can of bear spray to protect yourself just in case. It’s usually safer to hike with friends or a group of people, but if you’re going solo then make sure you’re always aware of the surroundings.

The bears will usually keep their distance if you make a bit of noise while hiking. And no matter how cute the bears may look, make sure that you don’t feed them. If you do, they will associate food with humans and that can often be a deadly combination.

There’s a lot of natural beauty in Cherokee National Forest and it’s a good idea to take a digital camera with you to capture some of it. The flora and fauna is quite diverse. There are numerous species of trees that appear in all sizes and shapes as well as wonderful flowering shrubs such as mountain laurel. Wildflowers are also everywhere and after a good rainfall you’ll often come across an astounding collection of fungi and mushrooms. Along with bears, you may also get a good look at coyotes, raccoons, and deer.

Taking a hike in Cherokee National Forest usually equates in a lot of fun and pretty good exercise. It’s an ideal way and place to appreciate nature as you’ll feel a part of it instead of being on the outside looking in.