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Trails in Tellico Plains TN area
Tellico Plains offers many hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails of varying levels of difficulty. There are paths for short hikes to picnic spots, trails to mountaintop "balds," day hikes along rivers, overnight backpacking trails, and backcountry trails for thru-hikers. Hiking guidebooks and maps are available at the Cherohala Skyway Visitors Center.
Scroll down this page for an area trail chart, photos, and specific info on various Tellico Plains area trails.

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hiking trails near Tellico Plains TN
hiking trails near Coker Creek TN
Tellico Plains was designated a "Trail Town" in 2014 by the Southeastern Foot Trails Coalition (SEFTC) and the Benton MacKaye Trail Association (BMTA) as an exceptional location to visit for these activities. The SEFTC is a coalition of almost all the trail clubs within the Southeastern United States. The BMTA oversees the Benton MacKaye Trail, a 300-mile long-distance trail, which courses through the mountains just east of Tellico Plains and Coker Creek.
For more info visit Tellico Plains Trail Town.

Hiking Chart for Southern Cherokee National Forest Trails near Tellico Plains


The Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT) is a backcountry hiking trail, measuring 288 miles (480 km) through the Appalachian mountains of the southeastern United States. It is designed for foot travel in the tradition of the Appalachian Trail (AT), but more primitive and solitary alternative for thru-hikers in the Southern Appalachians.

About 55 miles of the BMT runs through Monroe County, crossing into the south end of the county near Buck Bald. It follows close to Waucheesi Mountain and along high ridge lines on the TN/NC state border, descending to the Bald River near Holly Flats and the Tellico River near the Pheasant Field picnic area . It ascends again from there, approaching the Cherohala Skyway at Mud Gap (where there is a parking area and trailhead kiosk) and skirting the highway for about 3 miles. At Beech Gap there is parking and the opportunity for a walk on a gentle section of the trail, perfect for bird watching and chance encounters with wildlife. The trail continues north through the Unicoi Mountains, passes Big Fodderstack and Little Fodderstack. It exits Monroe County for North Carolina near where Highway 129 crosses the Little Tennessee River.

This hiking trail was created and is maintained by the Benton MacKaye Trail Association and is named for Benton MacKaye (rhymes with sky), co-founder of The Wilderness Society, the man whose vision inspired what is today the Appalachian Trail. In the south, he had selected a more westerly route for his Appalachian mountain trail plan, along the western crest of the Blue Ridge - roughly the route followed today by the BMT. Some of the trail's volunteer maintenance crews are locals from Tellico Plains and surrounding communities.

Benton MacKaye Trail
There are numerous access points and trailheads along the BMT route creating many options for one-way and loop hikes, and several more in combination with local trails. The Benton MacKaye Trail Guide, by Elizabeth Carter and Richard Harris, is sold at the Cherohala Skyway VIsitors Center and other local establishments, and The National Geographic Map #781 of the Cherokee National Forest - Tellico and Ocoee Rivers covers the trail. The Benton MacKaye Trail Association offers sponsored fun hikes and work trips.

Get more info at


Type of trail: Hiking & Mountain Biking

Level of difficulty: Easy

Trailhead directions: Turn at FS 345 off Cherohala Skyway TN 165 after milepost 14

Trail Length: 3.2 miles

A smooth gravel track encircles 96 acre Indian Boundary Lake for a hike or beginner bicycle ride of 3.2 miles. Bridges cross streams, and the relatively level trail passes along the shore and through mixed forest, filled with a variety of wildflowers in spring, summer, and fall. There are picnic tables, a swimming beach, a boat launch and beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Pets must be leashed or under physical control at all times. A $3 use fee station is located at the parking area.

Trail info and photos submitted by Judy Lavoie
of Judy Lavoie Art

Bicycles are allowed on several designated national forest system trails (like the Indian Boundary Loop trail)
as well as open and closed roads.
INDIAN BOUNDARY mountain biking trail


Type of trail: Hiking

Level of difficulty: Easy

Trailhead directions: TN 165 (Cherohala Skyway) to Tellico River Road (FS 210) and park at Bald River Falls.

Trail Length: 5.6 miles

Hike along the Bald River to its end on FS 126. The entire trail measures 5.6 miles, but you can hike it as a one-way trail then reverse, enjoying the lush forest allow the rocky river. The trail has many walkers in its first mile, with picnic tables along the river. There are also some backpacking campsites along the river. If you plan to hike the entire trail, parking cars at each end requires a loop of roads measuring about 35 miles.

Trail info and photos submitted by Judy Lavoie
of Judy Lavoie Art



Type of trail: Hiking

Level of difficulty: Easy

Trailhead directions: TN 165 (Cherohala Skyway), about 8.5 miles beyond Indian Boundary Lake. Parking is on the left (north) side of the Skyway at the West Rattlesnake pull-off, with signs marking the trailheads for #87 and #196 at the west end of the parking lot.

Trail Length: 1.3 miles

The first mile of the Falls Branch Trail is easy; a short distance from the start, go to the left where Jeffrey Hell Trail goes to the right. The trail goes down into a gorge, and this part is not as easy. Depending on recent rainfall, it could be too wet to walk down. The trail will cross the streambed in places. Upon arriving, you will be amazed at the magnificent waterfall in the middle of an enchanted forest of ferns, moss, and "hobbit" trees.

Trail info and photos submitted by Kellye Foss of Tellico Kats Deli

NOTE: Falls Branch Falls is 80-foot high.

 Falls Branch Falls
 Falls Branch Trail
 Falls Branch Trail hike
 Falls Branch Trail hiking


Type of trail: Hiking

Level of difficulty: Easy

Trailhead directions: From Tellico Plains, go South on TN 68 past Coker Creek Village to Ironsburg Methodist Church, which is on your right. Take CR 628 which runs alongside the church. At the first Y stay left. At the second Y stay right and drive to the Falls parking and picnic area, about two more miles.

Trail Length: 3.5 miles

Coker Creek is a seven stair step cascade. The trail begins at the parking area, and follows Coker Creek for about 3 miles; it ends at the 19 mile John Muir Trail, marked with white blazes. Recent improvements have been made to this trail.

Trail info submitted by Sandra Pyron
of Tellico Vacations Rentals

Coker Creek


Type of trail: Hiking, Mountain Biking, Horseback riding, or Drive a vehicle to top (gravel road to top)

Level of difficulty: Easy

Trailhead directions: South of Coker Creek on Rt 68, turn onto CR 624 on your left. You will go over a bridge and see a small brown sign for Buck Bald on your right. The road goes off to the left.

Trail Length: 2 miles

Hike or drive 2 miles to this lovely Bald which has a picnic table (bring your own chairs or a quilt) for a spectacular 360 degree view. Great for dinner and sunset.

Trail info submitted by Sandra Pyron
of Tellico Vacations Rentals

Buck Bald trail & view
BUCK BALD for Horseback Riding

Level of difficulty: Easy to moderate, depending on the riders experience

Trailhead directions: From Tellico Plains drive on Hwy 68 past Coker Creek, take Joe Brown Hwy about 4+ miles to the power lines. You can park along the edge of the road. Trailhead is on the right side of road. (You will see a sign marking it but it doesn't say anything about where it will take you.)

The trail we like to ride our horses on goes up to Buck Bald. After leaving the horse trailhead you have to ride about 1/4 mile on the gravel road that leads to Buck Bald. It takes about 1-1/2 hrs to get to the top of Buck Bald. This is a beautiful slow ride on a cool spring or early fall day.

Note - don't go on a hot day as there isn't any place to water your horse.

Trail info and photos submitted by Nancy Sullivan
of Coker Creek


Type of trail: Hiking, Mountain Biking, and Horseback Riding

Level of difficulty: Easy, Moderate, and Difficult

Trailhead Directions: From Hwy 39: From Tellico Plains, head north on TN 68 to Mecca Pike TN 39, and turn left to head west. After 5.5 miles, a brown and white Forest Service sign marks the access to Starr Mt. Road (FS 297) on the left.

From Hwy 315: From Tellico Plains, head north on TN 68 to Mecca Pike TN 39, and turn left to head west. Turn left in 2 miles where the road splits in Rural Vale, following Reliance Road (TN 315) south. After several miles, a brown and white Forest Service sign marks the access to Starr Mt. at Bullet Creek Road (FS 44) on the right.

Trail Length: various (see table & map below)

Starr Mountain, at 2,500 feet in elevation, provides 14 blazed trails and a scenic wooded backdrop. Four trails (nos. 151, 189, 190, 191) are designated for hiking only, and the others are for horse and hiking. Take your horse to Starr Mountain where 20 miles of trails and a number of Forest Service roads provide short day trips or long overnight rides. Featured trails in the system include Starr Mountain Horse Trail # 120, across the crest of Starr Mountain, or Chestnut Mountain Horse Trail #63 and #104 that wind along the border of Gee Creek Wilderness Area.

From Cherokee National Forest, USDA Forest Service Southern Region:

Starr Mountain Horse Trails map & chart - PDF


Type of trail: Hiking

Level of difficulty: Easy

Trailhead directions: Drive South on Rt 68 a short distance from Tellico Plains until you see a large brown Conasauga Falls sign; turn right here. Drive 2.3 miles, and look for a Forest Service post on your right with #170, the trail number. Turn right here, and drive 1/2 mile to the trailhead.

Trail Length: .8 miles

Conasauga Falls Trail is a gradual grade 3/4 mile hike and the prettiest falls. This trail has been greatly improved and has steps down to the falls now.

Trail info submitted by Sandra Pyron
of Tellico Vacations Rentals


Type of trail: Hiking

Level of difficulty: Easy

Trailhead directions: Follow Cherohala Skyway TN 165 across the state line into North Carolina, to the parking area on the north side, between mile markers 8 & 9. (This is approximately 35 miles from Tellico Plains). There is a trailhead info kiosk and a sign "Huckleberry Trailhead" as the trail leads into the woods.

Trail Length: 1.25 miles

The hike to Huckleberry Knob is a leisurely hike along a grassy jeep path, perfect on a hot day, since the elevation brings cooler temperatures. The trail winds through woods, with wildflowers along the path, into the first wide open grassy meadow, called Oak Knob. This is a fine place for a picnic, but continue hiking for big mountain views. Continue through another wooded area, gradually gaining altitude to reach the top of Huckleberry Knob, at 5560 feet, the highest point in the Cheoah Ranger District. The top is flat with lots of places to spread a blanket, while you enjoy the 360 degree mountain panorama.

Trail info and photos submitted by Judy Lavoie
of Judy Lavoie Art


Type of trail: Hiking
Level of difficulty: Easy

Trailhead directions: From Tellico Plains, follow Cherohala Skyway TN 165 east across the state line into North Carolina. At the state border, you cross from the Cherokee National Forest into the Nantahala National Forest and the Skyway becomes NC 143. Continue east to mile marker 7 and watch for the signs on the right with symbols of a picnic table and of hikers (the trail is not identified on the highway) - turn right there and up the road to the Hooper Bald parking area and trailhead.

Trail Length: .5 miles

Hooper Bald is a short easy hike that's nice in any season, but particularly in early to middle June when the wild flame azaleas are blooming around the meadow. A "bald" is a mountaintop of meadows and spotty dwarfed trees and shrubs, used by early settlers for grazing livestock. Hooper Bald's parking area is at 5290 ft. elevation, which caused it to be 20°F cooler than the temperature in Tellico Plains on a June afternoon - a pleasant break from summer heat!

There are two picnic tables at the parking area and an informational kiosk. The history of a hunting preserve which operated on Hooper Bald in the early 1900s is recorded, along with info about the introduction of the European Wild Boar and the Hooper Bald Project to protect the wild azaleas. Note that the restrooms may no longer be in service, since we've found them always locked closed on our visits.

The gravel walking trail is easy to follow on a very gradual incline through a lush forest. Spring wildflowers include False Solomon's Seal and Maypops. On our hike in June, the forest revealed a huge Jack in the Pulpit, flowering blackberries, fleabane, bluets, and other wildflowers. A short lush grass, ferns, and other foliage carpet the forest floor. Stairs bring you up the final steps to the bald, a vast meadow of grasses and wildflowers. Brilliant orange wild flame azaleas flower in June, on large shrubs on the edges of the meadow. Color is abundant with yellow buttercups, red and white clover, white yarrow, and blue-eyed grass filling the meadow. Walk to the far end of the meadow for a view of nearby Huckleberry Bald.

Trail info and photos submitted by Judy Lavoie
of Judy Lavoie Art

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eMail the above trail info to:

Tellico Plains Visitor’s Center Pick up brochures, flyers, maps, at
Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center
225 Cherohala Skyway (Route 165), Tellico Plains, TN 37385
Various photos courtesy Monroe County TN, Department of Tourism

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