Get Out on Tennessee’s Trails and Byways

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Spring is finally here, and it’s time to pack away the coats, dust off the atlas and plan a road trip that gets you out of the house. Want to immerse yourself in Civil War history? Tiptoe through a garden of tulips? Be amused at an offbeat attraction? Celebrate the 75th anniversary of Tennessee State Parks? Do it all? The Tennessee Trails & Byways guides can steer you in the right direction.

In the guide below, we suggest a few of our favorite places on the Trails & Byways that focus on history, nature, and some of the zaniest spots and events in Tennessee. Now get outside and play!

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Tennessee History

Shiloh National Military Park, Shiloh (Walking Tall Trail): Grab a Civil War Heritage Trail brochure at a Tennessee visitor center, and make plans to attend the Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event commemorating the 150th anniversary of the momentous Battle of Shiloh at Pickwick Landing State Park on April 4-5, followed by battlefield events at Shiloh National Military Park on April 6-8.
Park Road, Pickwick Dam, (731) 689-3129
1055 Pittsburg Landing Road, (731) 689-5275

Carter House, Carnton Plantation, Lotz House, Franklin (Old Tennessee Trail): This trio of restored homes gives an up-close look at the gruesome battle fought during the Battle of Franklin in November 1864. The Carter House and surrounding buildings hold more than 1,000 bullet holes, the Carnton mansion-turned-Civil-War-hospital still shows the blood stains (the house was the setting for Robert Hicks’ best-selling novel, Widow of the South), and the antique-laden Lotz House sports the original cannonball scars.
Carter House: 1140 Columbia Ave., (615) 791-1861
Carnton Plantation: 1345 Carnton Lane, (615) 794-0903
Lotz House: 1111 Columbia Ave., (615) 790-7190


The Hermitage (Promised Land Trail): In addition to the Greek Revival mansion that was home to Andrew Jackson for decades before and after his presidency, the grounds also feature gardens and trails located on 1,000 acres near Nashville. Take the Hermitage’s Beyond the Mansion Tour for a history lesson on slavery, farming and nature.

4580 Rachel’s Lane, (615) 889-2941

Ames Plantation, Grand Junction (Walking Tall Trail): Home to the National Field Trial Championship for All-Age Bird Dogs, this 18,400-acre plantation is rich in 19th-century history, with rows of crops, a herd of horses, and 700 head of Angus beef cattle. At the National Bird Dog Museum, check out sculptures, paintings, and photographs that depict pointers and retrievers.
4725 Buford Ellington Road, (901) 878-1067


Battle of Franklin reenactment

Civil War Trails and Re-enactments: In addition to Shiloh, other battles honoring 150th anniversaries in 2012 include Fort Donelson in Dover (February) and Stones River in Murfreesboro (December), though they will commemorate all year long.

Old Stone Fort Archaeological Park, Manchester: The cliffs and rivers of this 2,000-year-old Native American ceremonial site form the largest hilltop enclosure in the South.
732 Stone Fort Drive, (931) 723-5073


Children’s Holocaust memorial in Whitwell, TN.

Children’s Holocaust Museum, Whitwell: What began as a way for Whitwell Middle School students to study the Holocaust has turned into a worldwide lesson in tolerance. Step into an authentic 1917 German railcar that carried prisoners to the concentration camps, and see 11 million paper clips piled high to represent the Jews exterminated by the Nazis.
1 Butterfly Lane, (423) 658-5631. Students give guided tours on Fridays. Closed June-August.

Shiloh Indian Mounds National Historic Landmark, Shiloh: This “Mississippi mound builder” village is one of few places in the eastern U.S. where you can still see remains of prehistoric houses on the ground’s surface.
Route 1, (800) 552-3866


Reelfoot Lake, Tiptonville (Great River Road Trail): This popular bird-watching sanctuary is known for its bald cypresses, nesting bald eagles and shallow, bayou-like waterways. Tour the lake by canoe, pontoon or special “stumpjumper” boat.
2595 State Route 21 East, (731) 253-8003

Ellington Agricultural Center Iris Garden, Nashville (Jack Trail): The state flower, from bearded to Siberian, steals the show this time of year. Save time for the Tennessee Agricultural Museum, which harbors an array of 19th-century home and farm artifacts.
Hogan Road, (615) 837-5197


The Museum of the Appalachia

The Gardens at the Museum of Appalachia, Clinton (White Lightning Trail): Peek inside more than 30 authentically furnished log structures while strolling through wildflower gardens with rare hepatica poking through blankets of Virginia bluebells. Time your visit right to catch a porch performance by mountain musicians.
2819 Andersonville Hwy., (865) 494-7680

Springtime in State Parks: More than 20 wildflower pilgrimages, bird walks and butterfly identification events take place in April throughout Tennessee’s state parks. What’s more, the Tennessee State Parks programs turn 75 in 2012, with events scattered throughout the state all year in commemorations of the anniversary.
(888) TN-PARKS (867-2757)

The Unique


Zorb at Pigeon Forge, Tennessee Trails and Byways

ZORB, Pigeon Forge (Sunny Side Trail): Unleash your inner child by rolling down a hill inside a huge, inflatable globe. This wacky new sport originated in New Zealand.
203 Sugar Hollow Road, (865) 428-2422

Hang Gliding, Chattanooga area (Tanasi Trail): Learn why Chattanooga was named the Best City Ever by Outside magazine as you soar above the beautiful landscape. Lookout Mountain Hang Gliding offers tandem hang gliding rides with certified instructors for a truly breathtaking experience.
(800) 688-5637

Castle Gwynn and Tennessee Renaissance Festival, Arrington (Jack Trail): On any weekend in May, travel back in time at a full-size replica of a 12th-century border castle and enjoy armored knights jousting on horseback, Renaissance musicians performing, and costumed artisans displaying their wares.
2124 New Castle Road, (615) 395-9950


Electro Chalybeate Well

Electro Chalybeate Well, Jackson (Walking Tall Trail): Anchored by a vast underground river of mineral spring waters believed to cure internal ailments, this site has drawn curious vacationers since the late 1800s.
604 S. Royal St., (800) 498-4748

Mule Day, Columbia, March 29-April 1: Held in the “Mule Capital of the World,” the annual celebration of all things related to this hard-working donkey-horse hybrid features a large livestock market, a mule-driving contest and lumberjack competitions.
Maury County Park, (931) 381-9557

International Biscuit Festival, Knoxville, May 17-19: Comfort-food lovers pay homage to the “most perfect of foods” with samplings along Biscuit Boulevard. Other weekend events include the Southern Food Writers’ Conference, the Biscuit Benefit Dinner to raise money for local and national charities, the Miss and Mr. Biscuit pageant, and entertainment including biscuit songwriting, biscuit art and live music.
Market Square, (865) 384-7290

Tanasi Trail, Chattanooga area: Besides hang gliding, other Tanasi Trail attractions include the famous Choo-Choo, Ruby Falls and Rock City and, come summer, snorkeling amongst the tropical fish in the Conasauga River.
Chattanooga CVB, (800) 322-3344

About Tennessee Trails & Byways
Organized by the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development, the self-guided driving tours of the Tennessee Trails & Byways can help you discover hidden gems off the beaten path. The program will eventually include three statewide and 16 regional trails originating in or coursing through Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga and the Great Smoky Mountains. For a complete listing of trail attractions or to request guided maps of trails you’d like to explore, visit or call (800) 462-8366.

1 Comment

  1. JACK

    August 21, 2016 at 6:25 pm


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