Escape the Summer Heat in Carter County, Tennessee
If you’re tired of the scorching summer heat but still want to enjoy the great outdoors, look no further than the mountains of Carter County, Tennessee. This hidden gem offers a plethora of options for outdoor enthusiasts, from scenic trails at high elevations to refreshing swimming spots. With two rivers, a pristine lake surrounded by national forestland, and a variety of accommodations, Carter County is the ultimate summer destination.
Roan Mountain State Park: Your Base Camp
Roan Mountain State Park is the perfect base camp for your summer adventure. With over thirty cabins available for rent and options for tent and RV camping, you can choose the accommodation that suits your needs. From the park, take a short drive up the mountain to Carvers Gap, where the Appalachian Trail crosses the highway.
At Carvers Gap, you have two options for hiking. Head north and traverse the famous Roan Balds, known for their breathtaking beauty. This section of the Appalachian Trail offers stunning panoramic views that will leave you in awe. Alternatively, you can hike south through dense spruce-fir forest and pass by the Roan High Knob shelter, the highest elevation shelter along the entire Appalachian Trail.
Pro tip: After a long day of hiking, treat yourself to the mouthwatering wood-fired pizza at Smoky Mountain Bakers. It’s the perfect way to refuel and satisfy your hunger.
Watauga Lake: A Refreshing Oasis
If you’re looking to cool off and enjoy some water activities, Watauga Lake is the place to be. Rent a boat from one of the marinas or grab a kayak or paddleboard to explore the tranquil waters and picturesque wooded shoreline. If you prefer to stay on land, you can still admire the beauty of the lake by hiking along the Appalachian Trail, which runs along the edge of the lake from its southernmost point and crosses the Watauga Dam.
For a scenic adventure, embark on the six-mile out-and-back hike along the Appalachian Trail. Along the way, you’ll catch glimpses of the sparkling lake, making it a truly memorable experience.
Trout Fishing in Carter County
Trout fishing is a beloved pastime in Carter County, and the Watauga River is the star of the show. Known for its trophy section, this river provides ample opportunities for anglers to test their skills. But the Watauga River is not the only fishing spot in town. The Doe River also offers excellent fishing, with the Doe River Fishing Trail providing public access points to over eight miles of the river. Anglers can also explore the fishing opportunities in Roan Mountain State Park.
Discovering Waterfalls on Hiking Trails
If hiking is more your style, Carter County has some breathtaking trails that lead to stunning waterfalls. One popular option is the Appalachian Trail to Laurel Falls. This 40-foot-tall and 50-foot-wide waterfall can be reached via a 2.5-mile round trip hike from the Dennis Cove trailhead or a 5.5-mile round trip hike from the Laurel Falls trailhead along Highway 321. Another option is the Blue Hole Falls, a smaller but equally beautiful triple waterfall that requires less than a half-mile round trip hike.
Enjoying the Tweetsie Trail
For those who prefer biking, the Tweetsie Trail is a must-visit. This ten-mile-long crushed gravel rail-trail stretches from Johnson City to Elizabethton, offering a scenic route for cyclists of all ages. If you don’t have a bike, don’t worry! Bike rentals are available at Pedals on Rails in Elizabethton, making it easy for everyone to enjoy this picturesque trail.
Explore the Hampton Watershed Trail System
If you’re a nature enthusiast or an avid mountain biker, the Hampton Watershed trail system is a must-visit destination. Nestled in the heart of Carter County, Tennessee, this trail system offers a thrilling outdoor experience for all skill levels. With 6 miles of trails ranging from easy to advanced, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
A Trail for Every Skill Level
Whether you’re a beginner looking for a leisurely hike or an experienced mountain biker seeking an adrenaline rush, the Hampton Watershed trail system has you covered. The trails are well-maintained and offer a variety of terrains, including gentle slopes, challenging climbs, and thrilling descents. You’ll be surrounded by breathtaking views of the Appalachian Mountains as you navigate through the lush forests and meandering streams.
Immerse Yourself in Nature
As you explore the trails, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. The Hampton Watershed is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including towering trees, vibrant wildflowers, and elusive wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, squirrels, and a variety of bird species. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the stunning landscapes and memorable moments.
Discover Downtown Elizabethton
After a day of adventure on the trails, downtown Elizabethton welcomes you with its small-town charm and vibrant atmosphere. Take a stroll through the historic streets and admire the architecture that reflects the town’s rich heritage. One of the highlights is the covered bridge, a true gem built in 1882. It’s a perfect spot for a photo op and a glimpse into the town’s past.
A Culinary Delight
When it comes to dining, Elizabethton offers a wide range of options to satisfy your taste buds. From cozy cafes to family-owned restaurants, you’ll find a variety of cuisines to choose from. Indulge in delicious Southern comfort food, savor mouthwatering barbecue, or try some local specialties. After dinner, treat yourself to a sweet dessert or a refreshing ice cream cone.
Unwind with Local Brews and Live Music
After a long day of outdoor activities, there’s nothing better than relaxing with a cold, locally brewed beer. Appalachian Sun Brewery and Riverside Taphouse are popular spots where you can unwind and enjoy a wide selection of craft beers. If you’re lucky, you might even catch some live music at Covered Bridge Park or one of the downtown restaurants. It’s the perfect way to end your day on a high note.
Plan Your Adventure
Ready to embark on your next adventure in Carter County? Visit tourcartercounty.com to learn more about the Hampton Watershed trail system and start planning your trip. Explore the trails, discover the charm of downtown Elizabethton, and create unforgettable memories in this hidden gem of Tennessee. Get ready for an experience that will leave you wanting to come back for more.