IT DOESN’T GET MORE AUTHENTIC than exploring the backroads of East Tennessee. Check out the trails, streams and rivers that crisscross the beautiful, rugged mountains and thousands of accessible acres of state parks and the Cherokee National Forest. National Cornbread Festival, South Pittsburg Fifty miles of the Appalachian Trail wind across Unicoi County, also home to the most recent addition to the Tennessee State Park system: Rocky Fork, more than 2,000 acres of scenic wilderness. Cherokee Removal Memorial Park, Birchwood Chow down on some of Carter County’s tastiest barbecue or wade into the Watauga River for some of the nation’s best trout fishing. Don’t miss the Rhododendron Gardens of Roan Mountain State Park and the 360- degree views at Carver’s Gap. Want to ride? The 8,600-acre Doe Mountain Adventure Trail in Johnson County is not only open to hiking but horseback riding, mountain biking and access for off-highway vehicles as well. On highway, experience a motorcycle ride on The Snake—one valley, three mountains, 33 miles and more than 450 curves. Meanwhile, Hancock County beckons visitors to slow down. Take a casual float down the Clinch River or a night or two at the River Place on the Clinch in Kyles Ford, just up the road from Sneedville, the hometown of the King of Bluegrass, Jimmy Martin. Scott County is the proclaimed adventure tourism capital of Tennessee. Hike, bike or raft in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area or go “off road” in thousands of acres at Brimstone Recreation or the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. Stop by the Museum of Scott County in Huntsville, built completely by Scott County High School students. On the north side of the Smokies, Cocke County is home to Pigeon River, the No. 3 whitewater in the U.S. Plunge into the challenge of the 5-mile route, or for something little less intense, float the more laid-back Lower Pigeon. Every now and then travelers come across something they did not expect. In Whitwell (Marion County), visitors find the Children’s Holocaust Museum. One step inside this memorial to that terrible period in time and guests experience something not soon forgotten. Started as a school project years ago, thousands of visitors from around the globe have visited the memorial. Nearby are cast-iron king Lodge Manufacturing, National Cornbread Festival and the gateway to the breathtaking Sequatchie Valley. Similar in shape to the narrow Sequatchie Valley, Meigs County is bordered by the Tennessee River on one side and history on the other, with the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park, a moving tribute to Native Americans.
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