Over 47 million Americans have gone hiking or backpacking in the last 12 months. Many of these people claim hiking as their number one hobby and some went hiking for the first time. Regardless, hiking is a favorite activity among many Americans, not only because of the health benefits but also because of the amazing places that it will take you. In Anderson County, you can adventure along trails that will take you to ridge tops, lead you to valleys, through hollows and along the lakes and rivers.

There are also trails that accommodate every skill and endurance level whether you are an avid hiker, a Sunday afternoon explorer or a trail runner. Not to mention that our trails are perfect in any season. They are actually very different in each season. In October and November, you will see the mosaic mixture of yellows, reds and oranges created by the fall foliage. In the winter, after the leaves have fallen, you can see the contours of the land and capture views from vistas that you can’t see any other time of the year. When spring arrives, about March, the wildflowers and budding trees create a beautiful canvas along the trails of every color that you can imagine.

Some of our favorite trails are at Norris Dam State Park. They are our favorite because there is a variety of trails from walking trails to extreme uphill trails that will entice the hardcore trail runner. They also have some of the best views of the Cumberland Mountains and Norris Lake. Their 15 different trails, totaling 17 miles, are located on both sides of the park. (FYI, for our first time visitors, Norris Dam State Park is 4,000 acres and lays to the west and the east of Norris Dam.) The trails range from ½ mile trails to a five mile trail.

You can find a detailed map here.

A few things to know before you go:

  • If you are looking for overnight lodging, the park has camping, rustic cabins and deluxe multi-bedroom cabins. Find out more here.
  • There are trails designated for mountain biking and horseback riding but that information will be in a future blog. (Stay tuned!)
  • Speaking of staying tuned, the park is building new trails because they now have a new trail building machine. So, be sure to get an up-to-date map before you go.
  • One other thing, the park is home to many woodland creatures. So be sure to take a break and look for chipmunks or rare birds. Find out more at®ion=Norris_Dam_Reservation&statearea=East_Tennessee
  • Norris Dam State Park is adjacent to the Norris Watershed and the Songbird Trail, which we will talk more about in part two.

There are several events at the park that feature the trails that you do not want to miss:

  • On January 1st the Park Rangers host a hike so that you can start the year off right or maybe keep one of those new years resolutions.
  • Also in January, you can test your endurance at the annual 12K Norris Dam Challenge which is a road race that includes some challenging hills. Don’t forget to bring a Crock-Pot of Chili for the famous (and friendly) chili cooking competition after the race.
  • The last Saturday in March and the first Saturday in April is the Guided Wildflower Hikes where you will learn more than you ever thought you could about wildflowers.
  • In November, there is the Gobble Wobble Hike. Enough said.

Be sure to check out the event calendar, sign up for our newsletters or like us on facebook for the hike of the month.