KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Tennessee State Park System is marking its 80th anniversary with a list of 80 adventures to try across the state, which inspired WATE 6 On Your Side’s Kristin Farley to put together a list of her favorite places for people of all skill and interest levels.
Edgar Evins State Park
This park is great for first time campers, especially if you have little ones. It’s located in Silver Point, Tennessee, about two hours away from Knoxville.
The camping spots are platforms with electrical and water hookups, and many of the 60 spots overlook Center Hill Lake. These platforms help keep bugs and dirt off those who may be squeamish at first, and they are sturdy enough for tents or RVs.
There are also nice modern bathhouses, playgrounds and even a marina with a restaurant if cooking by campfire is not your thing.
More online: Tennessee State Parks
Frozen Head State Park and Natural Area
Frozen Head is a little more off the beaten path, about an hour from Knoxville in Morgan County, making it a great spot for a day trip or overnight. Frozen Head has backcountry and primitive camping, something not all state parks have. There are also trails for all skill levels that aren’t overly crowded, with quite a few small waterfalls along the way.
Frozen Head gives you a spot close to home that feels like you are hundreds of miles away.
Panther Creek State Park
Panther Creek is the best spot for boating, just outside Morristown on the Cherokee Reservoir. There are several commercial marinas nearby to rent boats and there is an expansive overlook, complete with incredible views.
A lot of history about this area goes back hundreds of years.
More online: Adventure 80 Challenge
Cummins Falls State Park
My fourth pick is one of the newer areas in the state park system, and my pick for a summer day trip for experienced hikers. Cummins Falls State Park in Jackson County was just officially dedicated about five years ago. There is a relatively easy hike to an overlook of the falls, but the real reward is a rugged hike down to the river. Then you hike back upstream to the falls. You have to wade through and across the river, and there is no clearly defined trail.
Once you arrive at the falls, there is a popular swimming hole and rocks to climb out on, but be warned there are lots of slip hazards and life jackets are advised. Keep in mind this is a day use park only and closes at sunset.
Fall Creek Falls State Park
The best all-around park is Fall Creek Falls in Spencer, Tennessee. This is considered the state’s flagship park. There are endless activities for all skill levels, a wide variety of lodging choices – from camping, to lodging, to the inn – pools, swimming holes, bike trails and so much more.
With more than 26,000 acres at Fall Creek Falls, you need days to cover everything there is to do and see, and it’s no surprise it’s the most visited state park in Tennessee.