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Adventurers of all ages will find something in Carter County

The coming of warmer weather in Carter County, TN means outdoor adventures, beating the heat at high elevations and evenings relaxing with live music and great food. 

Roan Mountain State Park offers adventure seekers a great basecamp with tent and RV camping as well as cabins for those less interested in roughing it. The park has great fishing in the Doe River as well as trails for hiking and mountain biking, and live music in the park amphitheater every Friday evening through the summer. 

A short drive up the mountain from the park, the Appalachian Trail crosses the highway at Carvers Gap. This is a popular starting point for hikers wishing to see the spectacular views and unique ecology of Roan Mountain on the famous balds. From Carvers Gap it is a short 1.5 mile hike to Round Bald and back, 5 miles to Grassy Ridge Bald and back, and hikers or backpackers looking for more of a challenge on the AT can hire a shuttle to do a longer point to point hike along the trail.

Although the town of Roan Mountain is small, with a population of just over 1,000, there are several great options of places to eat. Americano Steakhouse and Wine Bar serves the best steak around in an upscale environment. Smoky Mountain Bakers is best known for their incredible wood fired pizzas, perfect for satisfying your after hiking hunger, and they also have a great breakfast menu as well. The pulled pork and chicken at Highlander BBQ is another delicious way to refuel after exploring the mountains. 

In Downtown Elizabethton, a 30 minute drive from Roan Mountain, you can find rich history and more great adventures. The Watauga and Doe rivers both run through town and offer excellent trout fishing. The Tweetsie Trail is a ten mile crushed gravel rail trail that runs right by downtown Elizabethton and all the way to Johnson City, perfect for cruising on a bike or taking a short walk through town. Downtown Elizabethton provides great restaurants for all palates including Jiggy Ray’s Pizza, Red Chili for Korean fare, as well as Riverside Taphouse and Appalachian Sun Brewery for a well deserved drink after a day exploring. Be sure to check out the covered bridge near the west end of downtown across the Doe River which was built in 1882 and now serves as the focal point for Covered Bridge Park.

Sycamore Shoals State Park features a life size reconstruction of Fort Watauga you can stroll through as well as a museum detailing the early history of our area, from the Watauga Association where settlers formed the first independent government separate from the British to the mustering of the Overmountain Men on their way to the battle of King’s Mountain, one of the turning points of the Revolutionary War. 

A short drive from Elizabethton Watauga Lake offers an escape for those preferring to relax on the water. With over half its shoreline protected national forest land it’s another great spot to enjoy the outdoors. As the highest elevation reservoir in Tennessee it’s one of the furthest south places you can fish for lake trout. Paddle boarding, kayaking and sailboating are also popular activities on the lake. And if you prefer to stay off the water but enjoy great views of it, the Appalachian Trail winds around its southern tip and crosses Watauga Dam, making a great six mile out and back hike.

Adventurers of all ages will find something for them in Carter County. Visit for more information on upcoming events, things to do, and to start planning your trip today!

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