The Top 5 Winter Adventures in East Tennessee

Tennessee's best adventures in the snow and ice.

By: Jared Beeler + Save to a List

During the winter, it is not possible to do some of the best adventures around East Tennessee. However, there are still a few adventures that are amazing to do and there are some that are transformed during the coldest times of the year to new amazing adventures. 

1. Drive the Cherohala Skyway

This is one of my favorite adventures during the winter because it is one of the most scenic roads in the area. The best reason is that unlike the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Foothills Parkway, the Cherohala Skyway never closes during the winter. The road is mostly treated through the winter, but sometimes during heavy snow it becomes impassable unless you have a 4-Wheel Drive vehicle. This drive is also great for winter because due to the elevation change; it provides a great look at snow and ice while also being safe driving. Off the parkway is also a few great hikes that offer beautiful views during the winter like Huckleberry Knob.

2. Bike Cade's Cove Loop

This adventure can be pretty difficult if it snows a lot. If there is light snow, it can be a beautiful road to bike or just hike. The adventure can be great just to hike up the road during the snow to see the fields and to find a spot to go sledding. If the roads are closed, getting to the front of Cade's Cove can be difficult. You may need to park further back in the parking lot and then walk or bike in. 

3. Hike to Laurel Falls

This is a great hike to do year-round, but during the winter there are smaller crowds and it's still just as beautiful. During the winter, if it gets cold enough (usually in January of February) the waterfall can partially freeze, making it a beautiful frozen waterfall. The hike itself is very easy and just about anyone can do it, even in the winter. It is also a great place to take kids hiking. 

4. Photograph Bald River Falls

Bald River Falls is located in the national forest near Tellico Plains. The road to Bald River does not close for winter weather. The road to it is not treated but does not usually get much snow. During January and February when the temperatures fall into the teens and below, the water can freeze and it can be quite beautiful. During the times when it is completely frozen, there can be lots of people and it can be crowded. 

5. Photograph Potters Falls

When the temperature is around 10-degrees Fahrenheit or lower, it can become a spectacular frozen waterfall. Since it is moving water, the falls will never completely freeze, but they will freeze mostly. The moving water also means it can become very dangerous to stand on any ice that is near the waterfall because it may only be a few inches thick and you could fall through. The parking for the falls is easy, but the road to get there can be blocked sometimes during heavy snow.  

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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