The Ocoee River Area of Cherokee National Forest is one of the best-known regions of the National Park, with a wide selection of recreational activities for anyone interested in biking, camping, rafting, kayaking, hiking and enjoying the great outdoors. This area is home to several trails and trail systems for anyone searching for a walk through the renowned natural beauty of Southeast Tennessee. Here are the names and some information about the Ocoee River Area trails that you don’t want to miss!

Benton Falls Hike

Are you looking for a short and relatively easy trail with a great view? The Benton Falls Hike has exactly what you’re looking for! The 1.5-mile hike leads directly to Benton Falls, a scenic 65-foot waterfall perfect for pictures. The trail ends at the falls, meaning that the whole hike is roughly 3 miles in length. Guests can also spend their time enjoying the water and the nearby Chilhowee Recreation Area, complete with picnic tables and restrooms.

Chilhowee Trail System

Starting at the Parksville Campground at the base of Chilhowee Mountain, the Chilhowee Trail System contains over 20 miles of hiking trails that stretch all the way up the mountain to the Chilhowee Recreation Area. Hikers can expect a change in elevation from 600 to 2,000 feet if they plan on hiking all the way from Parksville to the Chilhowee Recreation Area, which makes for a decently challenging uphill hike. Here’s a complete list of the trails that make up the Chilhowee Trail System, along with their trail number, length, and difficulty rating:

  • No. 72: McKamy Lake, 0.7 miles, easy.
  • No. 77: Rim Rock, 1 mile, difficult.
  • No. 78: Scenic Spur, 1.6 miles, moderate.
  • No. 79: Clear Creek, 5.4 miles, difficult.
  • No. 84: Rim Rock Spur, 0.5 miles, easy.
  • No. 85: Slick Rock Hancock Loop, 2.4 miles, moderate.
  • No. 85: Slick Rock Laurel Loop, 2.1 miles, moderate.
  • No. 85: Slick Rock Naked Widow Loop, 1.3 miles, moderate.
  • No. 86: Clemmer Spur, 1.4 miles, moderate.
  • No. 130: Forest Walk, 0.4 miles, easy.
  • No. 131: Benton Falls, 1.5 miles, easy.
  • No. 140: Azalea, 2 miles, moderate.
  • No. 141: Arbutus, 0.7 miles, easy.
  • No. 142: Beach Trail, 0.4 miles, easy.
  • No. 143: Elderberry, 0.5 miles, easy.
  • No. 144: Redleaf, 0.3 miles, easy.
  • No. 146: Gazebo, 0.5 miles, moderate.
  • No. 147: Elderberry Spur, 0.1 miles, easy.
  • No. 302: Clemmer, 4.3 miles, moderate.


Rock Creek Gorge Waterfalls Hike

Another beautiful trail featuring waterfalls is the Rock Creek Gorge Waterfalls Hike, a 1.6-mile one-way hike that includes several creek crossings. The Rock Creek Gorge Scenic Area is home to sixteen different named waterfalls which carry water from Rock Creek and its tributaries that flow down Chilhowee Mountain. This hike is especially memorable due to the fact that only a few of the waterfalls are easily accessible, making this trail a rewarding one for experienced hikers and anyone revisiting the area.

Tanasi Trail System

Like the Chilhowee Trail System also located in the Ocoee River Area, the Tanasi Trail System contains over 20 miles of trails. As you might have guessed, the trail gets its name from the Cherokee word “Tanasi”, which is also the original spelling of what is now the state of Tennessee. Here are some of the trails you can expect to hike on the Tanasi Trail System, along with their length and difficulty ratings:

  • Bear Paw Loop, 1 mile, moderate.
  • Bypass Trail, 1 mile, easy.
  • Chestnut Mountain Loop, 6 miles, moderate.
  • Old Copper Rd, 3 miles, easy.
  • Quartz Loop, 2 miles, moderate.
  • Rhododendron Trail, 1 mile, easy.
  • River View Loop, 2 miles, moderate.
  • Thunder Rock Express, 1 mile, difficult.
  • West Fork, 3 miles, moderate.

Start planning your trip to Cherokee National Forest today!

If you’re beginning to plan a trip to the Ocoee River Area of Cherokee National Forest, you shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to experience the region’s world-class whitewater rafting. Learn more about our available rafting adventures – from half-day, full-day and VIP trips. See you soon!