While there are plenty of nationally produced guidebooks that include hiking and biking trails for East Tennessee, for true insider tips you may want to turn to books written by the locals. Here are some locally written guidebooks available at Knoxville outfitter shops.
Day Hiker’s Guide to All The Trails in the Smoky Mountains
by Elizabeth L. Etnier
This guide is unique in that it plans the hiking of all 800 miles of the maintained trails in the Great Smoky Mountains. Rather than just presenting a map and description of trails—which the book also does—Etnier has broken up all the trails into manageable day hikes. The book is structured by breaking up the park into nine geographic areas whose trails are then broken into day hikes. She has written a guide that, if followed precisely, will allow one to hike all of the trails in the park in only 75 day hikes. However, the majority of the hikes outlined in the guide are more than 15 miles in length, so this outline could be too ambitious for some. But, this guide provides simple directions, color-coded maps, and detailed descriptions for anyone attempting to reach this lofty goal. Available at Blue Ridge Mountain Sports, Earth Traverse Outfitters, Mast General Store, River Sports Outfitters, Uncle Lem’s Mountain Outfitters.
Hiking Trails of The Smokies
(Great Smoky Mountains Association)
This guide was written by 17 different hiker/writers and serves as a great resource for all beginners, as well as more experienced hikers. The book contains essential knowledge concerning park rules, safety information, and equipment needs that any new hiker will need to know. All trails in the Great Smoky Mountains are listed with a thorough descriptive narrative of the trail as well as information on location, distance, directions to trailheads, highlights, and trail cautions. A fold-out topographic map is also contained conveniently in the back of the book, and can be taken in and out of its pocket with ease. Each trail narrative also contains the grid location that the trail will be found on the map, which makes locating and planning prospective routes a breeze. This guide book is small enough to fit easily into your pack and carries all the necessary knowledge for day hikers and short-trip backpackers. Available at Blue Ridge Mountain Sports, Earth Traverse Outfitters, Mast General Store, River Sports Outfitters.
Off Road Trails
(Mini Adventure Series)
by Elle Colquitt and Jon Livengood
This expansive guide details trails for mountain biking, trail running, and day hiking throughout Tennessee. The book is split into sections based on the locations of trails—Chattanooga radius, Knoxville radius, Nashville radius, and Tri-Cities radius. The descriptions of the trails include detailed information on length, difficulty, trail surface and condition, and more. Fold-out, topographic maps are included with most of the trails. One of the great features of this guide is how directions to the different trail heads and parks are included. Available at Earth Traverse Outfitters, Uncle Lem’s Mountain Outfitters.
The Thru-Hiker’s Handbook
(Center for Appalachian Trail Studies)
by Bob “501” McCaw
This guide is only for the most serious hikers considering traversing the Appalachian Trail. The guide is useful for those doing large sections of the trail, but is essential for those with about five months of spare time to thru-hike from Georgia to Maine. A good portion of the guide is made up of a mileage index that is split into sections by state and includes detailed directions on the trail. Essential information on post-offices, telephone numbers, and other safety related material is also included. There are also things prospective “2,000 milers” need to know to keep them from looking like a loser on the trail in the Glossary of Trail Terms section. Available at Earth Traverse Outfitters, River Sports Outfitters.
Knoxville-Knox County Bicycle Map
This simple and effective map is published by the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization. The double-sided map has a map for Knoxville on one side and the wider area of Knox County on the other. Its best feature is probably the color-coded system of marking roadways for bike lanes, shoulders, and traffic volumes and speeds. It also contains locations and information on local bike shops and bicycle clubs. Available at Uncle Lem’s Mountain Outfitters.
(Mini Adventure Series, 2009)
by Elle Colquitt and Jon Livengood
This guide is mainly concerned with long-distance cycling. It contains dozens of routes with turn-by-turn directions, points of interest, distance, elevation, and an individual map of that particular ride. The routes are sectioned off by the area of their start location—north, south, east, and west. Safety issues and tips are included, as well as a great deal of information about local bicycle organizations, clubs, and shops. This guide contains important information for both greenhorn and expert cyclists, but is mostly ideal for long-distance riding of 40 miles or more. Available at Uncle Lem’s Mountain Outfitters.