The rain season is upon us in Northeast Tennessee which means spring is right around the corner! Rivers are flowing, waterfalls are overflowing, lakes are filling up, and everything is turning green with vibrant life. Pisces season runs through March 20th and invites inner reflection with the last month of winter and transition into spring.
Tennessee is experiencing spurts of 60 & 70 degree days, as we come out of the pandemic winter months. Soak up some Vitamin D rays, and make the most of this warmer weather even if it means chasing waterfalls on a rainy day. And it's okay to stick to the rivers and lakes that you're used to.
From local favorites to hidden gems, Northeast Tennessee is filled with adventures leading to waterfalls. Depending on the rainfall, these falls can seem totally different throughout the seasons. Winter brings ice, and springtime brings the laurel leaves to life as their green ambience encompasses the beautiful flow of these heavenly falls.
See one, see many, see them all. Bag these waterfalls in a day or two, and keep the trails clean so everyone can enjoy them.
Watauga Lake is surrounded by rolling mountains and sections of the Appalachian Trail. It makes for a great day of paddling and fishing, along with seasonal camping at select pull-offs. There are several great swimming spots for families and leashed pets, offering pristine lake views and boating marinas for rentals and lunch.
South Holston Lake is a 7,580 acre lake operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and runs from Tennessee into Virginia. Fly fishing is super popular below the dam in the shallow areas of the river, and boaters float above in the resorvoir. For what it's worth, this is the third-largest earthen dam in the world, composed of massive earth and rock. 60% of the shoreline is bordered by the Cherokee National Forest offering a mecca of hiking and recreation opportunities.
Boone Lake is a warm weather haven for disc golfers, mountain bikers, boaters, and marina goers. With access points at Winged Deer Park, this makes for a great day spent in the park having lunch by the lake or dipping your feet in after a mountain bike ride across the street.
The Nolichucky River flows from Western North Carolina into Tennessee. Most recently, the Noli was running water levels straddling 2,000- 3,000 cfs. This river is peaceful and fierce with big-splash rapids like Jaws & Quarter Mile on the upper and Radio Tower on the lower. Reserve a guided trip with the local USA Raft Adventure Resort and spend some time social distancing in nature this spring and summer.
Pack a picnic at Big Rock or dust off the camper and stay at a site by the river near Jonesborough. With plenty of hiking, kayaking, and adventure in the mountains all around you~ once you get outside, you'll be happy you did.
"More days like this, please." - Dobby Grace, while fetching stick on the Nolichucky.
Please practice Leave No Trace ethics when visiting public recreation areas, like our trailheads, lakes, and rivers. Check out Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association's "Leaders for a Litter-Free Tennessee" here on how community locals are making a difference to preserve outdoor recreation.
Fly fish the Watauga River in Elizabethton.
Whitewater at Doe River .
Know your limits, and hire a guide when necessary.
Elwood's Hatchet House & Tavern is Boone's "first & only indoor Axe Throwing Tavern." Shannon, the owner, greets guests with a warm welcome while teaching proper axe-throwing skills to newbies, like myself. This makes for a fun and safe activity to get out of the house while still practicing Covid-safe measures during these times.
Elwood's Hatchet House & Tavern
I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Shannon about the detours of opening a business during 2020. While it has been a struggle, she is pushing through with local support and navigating these times in style and safety. Elwood's practices Covid-safety measures by sanitizing axe handles, tables, and seating between groups and enforcing masks when outside your specified seated area and throwing lane. Hand sanitizer is provided, and all employees will be wearing masks at all times. Elwood's Hatchet House is currently opened Friday- Sunday by reservations.
Tennessee saw its' first snow on December 1st, and what a glorious day it was in the Appalachian Mountains! The powder stashes were lurking along the higher elevations straddling the borders of Tennessee and North Carolina. With some ski resorts opening a bit later than planned, it was an opportunity just waiting to strap the snowboard on and head for the hills.
Cover Photo By: Megan Burnette
Grab a Friend
No adventure is truly complete going solo. Having a friend to share the journey with raises every outdoor experience up a level, plus you can watch each other's backs in the face of danger. The neat thing about bootpacking Appalachia is there is no worry about avalanches.
A cold, windy day on top of East Coast mountains in higher elevations can still prove to be brutal. And if you are not adequately prepared, these mountains can be very dangerous. Extreme winds combined with single digit temps can quickly turn a fun sitch into a disorienting and treacherous one, so know your skill level and grab a buddy before heading out on a DIY adventure in snowy conditions.
East Coast Backcountry Checklist
Gloves & Liners
Performance Socks (I prefer Stance)
Boots (A must for bootpacking)
Steed of Choice (I ride switch on an outdated Roxy Silhouette that in my opinion ages better with time, though my peers will you tell you it's like an old embarrassing pick-up truck~ shrug)
Warm, cozy hat
Face Mask (Plenty of these around)
Let 'er Rip
Photo By: Megan Burnette
After a heavy snow, the best part about sunrise is throwing your snowboard into the truck and heading out for a snow day on the mountain! First tracks on the road and early bird (or only bird) on the mountain is a motto to live by, because if you know you know. There is no feeling in the world better than fresh tracks in fresh powder. Toss in a dose of treelines and earn-your-turn carves, and you can place all your bets it's gonna be one heck of a great day.
Let's just put this out there- adventure girl's days are the BEST THING EVER. Getting outside with the girls for some fresh air, trekking up a mountain, and exploring new ground together is priceless. As we get older and life takes us on new paths, it takes effort to keep and grow our friendships- so these moments are truly a blessing.
While our friends on the West Coast see upwards of 12"+ of that good-good snow, we salute you and will continue to watch the forecast here in Tennessee, dance our butts off for snowy weather, and seize every opportunity we can for a couple hours of that backcountry pow.
Traveler. Writer. Mom.