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Person walking through wooded trail.

Catch the Trail Magic

Celebrate National Trails Day with a Scavenger Hunt

No matter which Tennessee Valley Authority trail you explore this summer, you’re following in the footsteps of some of the greatest trail builders in history.

“We’ve had some pretty famous people who have worked for TVA through the years, like Benton MacKaye,” said Suzanne Fisher, TVA’s senior program manager of special projects and land use initiatives. “He’s the godfather of the Appalachian Trail.”

In the 1930s, workers from the Civilian Conservation Corps also built trails in the region – and their craftsmanship has stood the test of time. To this day, some of those same trails wind past the region’s historic dams and other structures.

TVA’s reservoirs, dams and trails are true destinations, not just for tens of thousands of seasonal visitors but also countless residents who frequent these locations for picnics, playtime and recreation.

As the nation celebrates National Trails Day, it’s a perfect opportunity to visit your favorite TVA trail – or find a new one that you’ve never explored.

“Take a picnic and explore the dam reservations and campgrounds,” Fisher said. “They’re in the community and they’re easy to get to."

People perform trail maintenance.

National Trails Day

The American Hiking Society’s theme for this year’s National Trails Day – “A day of service for hometown trails and the people who love them” – celebrates the community spirit that helps ensure the nation’s public trails can be enjoyed by all.

And with more than 180 miles of trails winding through the Valley region, TVA offers plenty of ways hikers, bikers, birders and others can participate in this year’s National Trails Day events.

At Raccoon Mountain, where picturesque paths wind through forests, volunteers can help maintain trails at the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association’s event, Lopperpalooza, on June 1.

At Tellico Reservoir, volunteers can join WATeR – the Watershed Association of the Tellico Reservoir - as they work to remove invasive plants on trails along Baker Hollow Branch.

Volunteers can keep things clean and green – and learn about the river, too – by joining the Appalachian Paddling Enthusiasts’ river cleanup at Nolichucky Stream on June 15.

For those who can’t make it to a National Trails Day activity, TVA also operates the Adopt a Trail and Adopt a Spot programs.

People walk along paved trail.

Join the Hunt

Eager for more adventure? Don’t miss TVA’s scavenger hunt, which runs till June 2.

The Valley-wide scavenger hunt encourages exploration of trails in East Tennessee, West Tennessee, North Carolina and northern Georgia and north Alabama.

“(You’ll) take a photo of yourself or one of your crew with the scavenger hunt items listed,” Fisher said.

TVA’s Natural Resources team, which builds and maintains trails, has identified locations where people can take selfies or family photos. Look for benches, rock outcrops and other spots listed on the scavenger hunt, then email your photo to [email protected].

“A randomly selected winner will take home an Adventure Prize Pack, including a tent, sleeping bag and mattress combo, along with a National Trails Day T-shirt,” Fisher said.

People use adaptive equipment on trails.

Trails for All

Contest winner or not, everyone can benefit from time in nature.

Looking for a short walk on a level surface, or a long trek through Small Wild Area? Maybe an adventure on an adaptive mountain bike, or a ride on some of the nation’s top-rated mountain bike trails?

There’s a TVA trail for every use.

“We’re looking at ways to adapt current TVA trails for all users, and we’re prioritizing accessibility in future projects,” Fisher said.

It’s all about finding harmony with nature.

“For me, it’s getting in a rhythm, putting one foot in front of the other,” Fisher said. “Whatever gets you outside … for a moment of fun.”

Poeple walk along wooded trail.

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Take steps to ensure a safe trail experience at the TVA Trail Safety and Best Environmental Practices page.

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Trail of the Year sticker

Trail of the Year

TVA’s 2024 Trail of the Year – an honor given to one of the National Recreation Trails – is the beautiful River Bluff Trail in East Tennessee.