Savage gulf in Bersheba Springs, TN near Monteagle is absolutely some of the best hiking and backpacking you can find in Middle TN. The Stone Door trail is a paved in & out trail that's manageable for hikers of all ages and abilities, complete with stunning views of the Cumberland Plateau - it's incredible in the fall. You can climb down the steep stairs through stone door to reach connecting trails to back country campsites. I hiked down "Fiery Gizzard" and it was an easy ten-mile hike to our site, perfect for beginners and kids. I especially love this place in the Fall!
Photos below were posted on two separate trips to Stone Door/ Savage Gulf area
Fall Creek Falls is one of my favorite places to camp & hike in the Middle/East Tennessee area. Beautiful scenery, an awesome waterfall hike, and a lovely SHADED camping loop contribute to some of my favorite family camping weekend memories.
This campground is a great little place to stay if you want to camp in the Gatlinburg area. The owners are so sweet, and it's right on the Little Pigeon River. They have a little pool and a store, and they're located right next to this sweet little drive-in restaurant where my family always goes for ice cream & fries! Be aware that the loop is small, so getting in there with a huge truck and trailer is always interesting.
This is a gem right in the Birmingham area! Oak Mountain is located in the suburbs of Birmingham, but it's surrounded by a vast natural area and a huge lake. I camped right on the lake and it was the perfect place for a midnight swim!
This state park is not my favorite, mostly due to the area- it's just not that pretty! However it is a state park, meaning it's got all the usual amenities and will do the job. It's always quiet and it's easy to get to if you're in the middle TN area.
Cedars of Lebanon is a great State Park in middle TN for camping and for day hikes. It has a great pool, and the natural area where it's located features tons of endemic species to the area!
This is a place that I grew up camping with my family, and spent countless days on our pontoon boat or kayaks on Tim's Ford Lake. It's a lovely, quiet campground with a great nature center, hiking trails, playgrounds, a pool, and lake access for boating and swimming.
Just spent the weekend at Panthertown Valley and loved it! However - be aware that the bears here are extremely bad. I actually had an encounter with a very large bear who charged my group and destroyed at tent, and heard similar stories from other campers. That being said, I still had an incredible weekend! There are countless beautiful waterfalls and even some beach campsites where you can wake up to a waterfall right in front of you. The USFS is considering making bear canisters required in this area, and I was certainly glad I brought mine!
Harrison Bay is a nice place to camp most of the time, but I don't recommend going in the summer. It's crowded and the raccoons are SO SO BAD. They'll take anything accessible!
This campground is one of my favorites in the entire east & middle TN area! It's a great state park with all the amenities, where you can bring the camper and the whole family to relax. It's always quiet and full of very nice people, and I've never had any animal problems there. There's access to a great area for kayaking and swimming as well!
This is a great place for the family to stay! Campground features a beach and a little store, and it's located right off of the Cherohala skyway so it's a short drive for day hikes and beautiful views. One of my favorites!
This campground it beautiful and it features a handful of drive in spots as well as a wonderful trail where you can hike in for back country camping. This year my partner and I stayed there during the peak of firefly season, and once the sun went down we we walked down the short gravel road that leads to the parking lot for day-hikers. There is a meadow here where we watched fireflies for hours and it was MAGICAL!
This campground is great for being right next to great day hikes and easy access to Citico Creek, which was just across the gravel road from our site. However- be aware that many of the sites are free, which draws some of East Tennessee's most, ahem, interesting inhabitants to the area! Being a native, it didn't shake me too much.. But if you don't want to mingle with rednecks, this may not be for you :)