Fall break: get out of town with these Tennessee hikes


A trail in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. (MTSU Sidelines/ Olivia Ladd)
A trail in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. (MTSU Sidelines/ Olivia Ladd)

Photo by Olivia Ladd/ Lifestyles Editor

MTSU’s fall break is upon us once again.

The age-old cononundrum for students is what to do to occupy the four or five days you now have free.

Luckily, we live in Tennessee and hiking trails are readily available within a short drive. You can easily, and inexpensively, take a day trip to a trail close by or go camping for a day or two with a group of friends.

Check out some of our suggestions for your fall break festivities below:

Fall Creek Falls

This national park features a ton of small trails.

You can choose your own path and difficulty level and catch a few different waterfalls along the way. It is located about 70 miles from Murfreesboro, making it perfect for a short day trip. They do offer camping and cabins for a small fee if you’re looking for a longer stay. You can find more information about the park here.

Rutledge Falls

Rutledge Falls is just outside Manchester, about an hour drive from Murfreesboro.

This is a relatively short hike and it leads to an out-of-this-world waterfall. It’s generally safe to go to alone and you can explore the whole area in just a couple of hours. Just put “Rutledge Falls Baptist Church” in your GPS and park there, and it’s a short walk down to the falls where you can swim or hike around.

Hiking trail in Tennessee. (MTSU Sidelines/ Olivia Ladd)
Hiking trail in Tennessee. (MTSU Sidelines/ Olivia Ladd)

 

Cumberland Gap

Cumberland Gap features caverns galore. You can rent a cabin or go tent camping for about $20. There are numerous hiking trails for every difficulty level with really great views all around.

This is one of the larger National Parks in Tennessee so there is plenty to do. It is located about two hours from Murfreesboro. You can find camping details and hiking maps here.

Hiking trail in Tennessee. (MTSU Sidelines/ Olivia Ladd)
Hiking trail in Tennessee. (MTSU Sidelines/ Olivia Ladd)

 

Cherokee National Forest

This is arguably the best place to hike in Tennessee.

Surrounding the Chattanooga area, the Cherokee National Forest encases the Ocoee River and features some of the highest points in East Tennessee — making for some breathtaking views. It makes up the Southern tip of the Appalachian mountains. There are many hiking trails within a few miles of the 1996 Olympic Bridge along the Ocoee River, which is a feature in itself.

This is a three to four hour drive from Murfreesboro, but the views along the way make it an easy one, especially during the fall. You can find more information about trails and activities here.

Hiking trail in Tennessee. (MTSU Sidelines/ Olivia Ladd)
Hiking trail in Tennessee. (MTSU Sidelines/ Olivia Ladd)

 

Cummins Falls

This waterfall is just an hour and a half from Murfreesboro, and the view alone is worth the drive.

Located in Cookeville, Cummins Falls is a huge waterfall with a relatively easy hike to get down to the bottom. This is a great one for families or people who have never been hiking before, and it can be done in just a day. Check the park hours and find trail information here.

Hiking trail in Tennessee. (MTSU Sidelines/ Olivia Ladd)
Hiking trail in Tennessee. (MTSU Sidelines/ Olivia Ladd)

 

Rock Island

This is a state park and the ultimate getaway when it comes to Tennessee adventures.

There are multiple waterfalls to explore here and tent and cabin camping available for super cheap. You could choose a trail and head here for the day, or stay for the weekend and try to check all of them out. Either way, you’ll be stunned by the area’s natural beauty and how well-kept it is.

Hiking trail in Tennessee. (MTSU Sidelines/ Olivia Ladd)
Hiking trail in Tennessee. (MTSU Sidelines/ Olivia Ladd)

 

To contact Lifestyles Editor Olivia Ladd email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

For more updates, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter/Instagram at @Sidelines_Life.

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