The Cherokee National Forest is a beautiful, massive National Park that spans the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. Visitors are welcome to explore over one thousand square miles of beautiful natural landscapes, especially in the well-known and often-visited Ocoee River Area. Before setting out on a fun-filled adventure, here’s a few things you should know before you depart for the Cherokee National Forest.

Get ready to hike the Cherokee National Forest!

The Cherokee National Forest is home to over 600 miles of non-motorized trails, with five different hiking trails located in the Ocoee River Area. Before departing for your trip through the woods, here’s a few tips to make sure your adventure is as safe and comfortable as possible:
• Hike at a pace where you can still talk to your companions while walking.
• Take at least one 10-minute break for every hour of hiking that you do.
• Don’t hike on an empty stomach! Eat before, during, and after your hike.
• When packing snacks, stick to foods rich in carbs, salt and natural sugars.
• Drink before you begin to feel thirsty. Don’t forget to pack a water bottle!
• Never leave your litter on the trail. Take your trash with you.

Don’t rely on your cell phone.

Did you know that there is little to no cellular service on the majority of hiking trails in Tennessee? Visitors to the Cherokee National Forest may receive cell service in certain areas, but reception is often spotty and unreliable. Another hurdle to consider is the lack of charging stations along the trails. If you want to use your phone along the trail to take photos of the scenery, consider packing a portable battery pack on your adventure.

What should I do if I get lost in Cherokee National Forest?

Visitors to America’s National Parks rarely find themselves lost in the wilderness, but it’s a reality that every visitor should prepare for before planning their trip. Here’s a few things you can do to stay on the right path during your trip to Cherokee National Forest:

• Pick up a map of the area from a Forest Service station before you head out.
• Stay on the trail. Trails are almost always marked with signs or trail markers.
• Learn how to use a map and compass and bring them with you on the trail.
• Don’t panic! Keep calm and try to remember how you got into your current situation.
• As a last resort, follow a drainage or a stream downhill. This often leads to a trail or road.
• Stay in your current location if it’s nightfall, or if you’re exhausted or injured.

Get to know the place before you visit

There are plenty of regions to explore in the Cherokee National Forest! The Cherokee National Forest contains fourteen other different zones. You can learn more about the following areas by visiting the Forest Service’s webpage detailing the park’s special areas:

• Ocoee River Area
• Watauga Lake Area
• Iron Mountains
• Bald Mountains
• French Broad River Area
• Holston Mountain Area
• Appalachian National Scenic Trail
• Starr Mountain Area
• Unaka Mountains
• Citico Creek Area
• Backbone Rock Recreation Area
• Pigeon River Area
• Roan Highlands
• Tellico River Area
• Big Frog Area
• Coker Creek Area
• Hiwassee River Area

Plan your trip ahead of time

The Ocoee River Area of the Cherokee National Forest is a great place for rafting, kayaking, hiking, biking, camping and plenty of other outdoor activities. To get a head start on your trip, start looking for a place to stay at our available cabins or motel lodging options, book a rafting trip or rent a boat or kayak today!