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Experience the Beautiful Colors of Northeast Tennessee

Beauty Spot by Nathan Metcalf
Photo credit: Nathan Metcalf Photography

It may still be green now, but before long, the cooler temperatures will bring an amazing panorama of color to Northeast Tennessee. Our area of the United States is considered to be one of the prime locations to view and enjoy fall foliage. The nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park, dedicated on September 2, 1940 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and celebrating its 81st year, is the most-visited national park in the United States.

However, residents of our local area know that equally beautiful scenic displays can be seen all throughout Johnson City, Jonesborough, Erwin, Elizabethton, Kingsport, and Bristol. Prime fall foliage across Northeast Tennessee begins to appear at different times, varying by elevation. In the higher altitudes, leaves begin to change by late September and peak by mid-October. Lower elevations generally see a peak by mid-to-late October and early November.

Northeast Tennessee boasts dozens of beautiful walking and hiking trails, dense forests, wildlife, plant life, quiet parks, and scenic views. Rolling landscapes, jagged peaks, rushing rivers, and astounding colors can be found in just a short walk from our local towns – and many can be found in town. Begin now planning your scenic getaway to Northeast TN and be sure to visit some of the locations below.


Steele Creek Park – With over 2,200 acres, Steele Creek Park is the third largest municipal park in Tennessee. The Park features over 150 acres of developed recreational area, a 54-acre lake, and almost 2000 acres of undeveloped forested knobs.

South Holston Lake – Hundreds of miles of lake shoreline and water await the fisherman, boating enthusiast, skier, and nature lover. South Holston Lake, a Tennessee Valley Authority reservoir covering 7,580 acres, is considered one of the top two lakes in Tennessee and among the best in the Southeast for smallmouth bass fishing and also is well known as a fly fisherman’s paradise.


Warriors Path State Park – Warriors’ Path State Park was named for the Great Cherokee War and Trading Path. Since that time, the park land has known a long history of travelers and is still a pathway for modern-day outdoor enthusiasts. The 950-acre park is located on the shores of the Patrick Henry Reservoir on the Holston River. The Park is home to premier boating and fishing activity, hiking trails, an internationally-renowned mountain bike trail system (which is a designated National Recreational Trail), an award-winning nature education program, and a nationally recognized golf course.

Ft. Patrick Henry Reservoir – This small, 872-acre, TVA-managed reservoir is located in Sullivan County near Kingsport on the South Fork Holston River in east Tennessee. It extends 10 miles upstream from the dam to Boone Dam; and 8 miles (13 km) above the South Fork Holston River’s confluence with the North Fork Holston River (which forms the Holston River proper). Fort Patrick Henry is named after the colonial fort, also known as Long Island Station, that was established nearby at the site of present-day Kingsport, Tennessee. Fort Patrick Henry Reservoir is a popular site for fishing, particularly rainbow trout, bluegill, bass, and crappie.

Johnson City

Boone Lake – Boone Lake is a popular location for fishing and water-based recreation, with a swimming area above the dam and a boat ramp and courtesy pier for safe, convenient boating access. The lake supports bluegill and crappie, as well as white, striped, hybrid, smallmouth, and largemouth bass.

Founders Park – Founders Park is a beautiful community park and green space located in downtown Johnson City. The park offers walking paths, sculptures, a creek, and is perfect for special events and festivals. On occasion, there are food trucks set up in the park as well as live music on Fridays. Dogs on leashes are always welcome.


David Crockett Birthplace State Park – David Crockett was a pioneer, soldier, and politician. He was born near the town of Limestone, Tennessee, in 1786. David Crockett Birthplace State Park commemorates the birthplace of this famous Tennessean. In 1817, he moved to Lawrence County. While serving in Congress, he fought for his people’s right to keep land they had settled on in the new frontier of West Tennessee. Crockett died at the Alamo Mission in March of 1836 while aiding the Texans in their fight for independence from Mexico. Enjoy fishing, camping, great scenic views, and occasional wildlife.

Nolichucky Outdoor Learning Institute (NOLI) – Located on the banks of the beautiful Nolichucky River in the mountains of Northeast Tennessee, this is the region’s leading comprehensive outdoor school offering courses and instruction for all ability levels in a variety of disciplines including kayak, canoe, water safety and rescue, wilderness medicine, survival, camping, backpacking, conservation and more. They also offer special events such as team building, adventure camps, and custom programs tailored to you and your group. There’s something for everyone at the Nolichucky Outdoor Learning Institute!


Cherokee National Forest – Located in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of east Tennessee, the Cherokee National Forest is divided into northern and southern sections by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The 650,000-acre forest is the largest tract of public land in Tennessee and adjoins other national forests in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia.

Roan Mountain State Park – Featuring majestic 6,285-foot Roan Mountain, Roan Mountain State Park encompasses more than 2,000 acres dominated by rich hardwood forest along rugged ridges. The cool, clear Doe River winds its way through the center of the park and supports a healthy population of trout. Wildflowers and wildlife inhabit the hollows and ridges of the Roan foothills in abundance.

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