So far, I had been to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, but I hadn't been to any of the state's 53 state parks. So this week, my brother and I headed out to Norris Dam State Park to do a little hiking.
|Norris Dam - from west overlook|
The visitor center is located on the east side of the dam. It was closed when we visited, but I've heard it has some good information about the construction of the dam. The view of the dam from the visitor center is okay, but the best views are from the west side overlook. Watch for a gate on Highway 441 (Norris Freeway) and a sign for TVA Overlook. I couldn't find it marked on the map, so I created a Google map with the location marked.
The park covers a pretty large area around the dam (4,038 acres according to their website) and has lots of trails for exploring. We did two fairly short hikes while we were there.
|First part of Clear Creek trail|
The Clear Creek Trail was narrow and muddy in places, but seemed pretty easy. There were a couple spots where we had to walk through a little water, so boots are a good idea.
People who don't want to take on the trail but would like to see Clear Creek can drive on Lower Clear Creek Road. It's a gravel road that looked in good condition when we were there. There is one spot where the creek crosses the road, but it's shallow and the road is paved there. We saw cars crossing it with no trouble.
|Lower Clear Creek Road (shallow water crossing)|
After doing the Clear Creek Trail, we took a lunch break (Cracker Barrel in nearby Lake City, just a few minutes drive from the center of the park).
The view of the river was nice and, true to it's name, I did see and hear plenty of songbirds. It was a nice walk and would be a good option for anyone who wants a nice, firm, flat path, but I preferred the woodland creekside setting of the Clear Creek Trail.
One other trail that I had seen mentioned online as good for wildflower viewing is the River Bluff Trail. It wasn't clear from park maps how to get there. I was hoping to be able to ask someone at the visitors center, but since it was closed, I was out of luck. I looked it up after I got home and found an article about the trail in the Knoxville newspaper. There are directions in the article, and I found a TVA site that had a link to a map with the trail head parking location.
|Clinch River from Songbird Trail|
Norris Watershed Trail Map
TVA River Bluff Trail and Trail Head Location Map
Trails system information
TVA Trails, with driving directions and trail maps