Lakes, Trails, Forests and Parks in Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia
Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Bristol is surrounded by boundless natural beauty with its spectacular mountain views, beautiful lakes and scenic hiking and biking trails.
South Holston Lake | River | Dam
|Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia |
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. The lake also provides many other recreational opportunities for residents, with 60% of its shoreline bordered by the Cherokee National Forest. The Cherokee National Forest is 640,000 acres of a natural wonderland that includes stops along the famous Appalachian Trail.
Fly Fishing is extremely popular in South Holston River, a nationally recognized trout fishery. It produces numerous trophy trout each year. Numerous streams are filled with native brook trout, brown trout and rainbow trout.
South Holston Dam, at a whopping 285 feet high and 1,600 feet in length, is the third largest earthen dam in the world. This massive earth and rock structure holds back the waters of South Holston Lake which extends some 24 miles up the river from the dam.
Parks | Trails | Golf
|Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia |
Additionally, there are many other recreational opportunities in proximity to Bristol, such as water parks and white water rafting rails to trails and great biking experiences.
Bristol strives to maintain the natural environment that makes the city a great place to live. Dozens of city parks, the largest of which is Steele Creek Park, extend recreational opportunities to all residents. Picnic areas are available, along with lodges, a 52-acre lake and numerous hiking and mountain biking trails. Steele Creek also features one of a number of excellent golf courses in the area.
For those who desire a view of history from behind the wheel, driving tours such as Tennessee’s Sunnyside Trail wind through Bristol and the surrounding region, highlighting historical locations, diners and drive-ins, and many sights that arouse intrigue and nostalgia.
Other tours abound for tracing the path of the Civil War through the region, the progression of the development of the area’s rich musical history, or to pass by larger-than-life heirloom quilt patterns.
In the summer of 2010, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development opened the Sunny Side Trail, a mapped driving route starting in Sevierville and covering 12 East Tennessee counties — including nearly 300 points of interest.
One of the largest and most stunning caverns in the region, Bristol Caverns takes visitors along the banks of the ancient Underground River that carved the spectacular caverns from the hard core of the earth 200 to 400 million years ago.
In the frontier days, Indians used the Underground River as an attack and escape route in their raids on settlers. Stealing into the area by way of the Underground River and the caverns, they swooped down on unsuspecting families then disappeared as if swallowed up by the earth.
Visitors will retrace the same warrior paths while exploring the vast rooms and arches, columns, and natural stone formations of varying size and kinds. These formations, millions of years old, display rich veins of minerals which give the formations beautiful colors of red, blue, gray, brown and sparkling white.
Stalactites and stalagmites, some larger than tree trunks and others smaller than straws, fascinate and give play to the imagination. Where some of these formations have grown together, massive columns have been formed reaching from the floor to the ceiling of the lofty rooms. With every view, nature's artistry is at its best and can be seen in the remarkable tumbling cascades and billowing draperies - all of solid stone.