Carter County Outdoor Recreation

Tucked into the mountains of Northeast Tennessee, Carter County is Tennessee’s Mountain Playground. With beautiful Watauga Lake, the Watauga and Doe rivers, and hundreds of miles of hiking trails the opportunities for outdoor recreation are limitless.

Hiking on the Appalachian Trail you can take in stunning panoramic views while crossing the balds on Roan Mountain at an elevation of over 6000 feet. The Appalachian Trail also takes you by Laurel Fork Falls and winds around the Watauga Lake. In addition to the over 40 foot tall and 50 foot wide Laurel Fork Falls, Carter County is home to many other waterfalls including the small but scenic Blue Hole Falls.

If you prefer exploring on two wheels, bike trails weave along the Doe River through downtown Elizabethton and the 10 mile Tweetsie Trail follows the former ET&WNC railroad right-of-way. Mountain biking trails are also available at the Hampton Watershed Trails and at Roan Mountain State Park.

If spending some time on the water appeals to you there are plenty of options for boating on Watauga Lake, kayaking or paddle boarding down one of the rivers or fishing in the mountain streams. Featuring one of only two trophy trout streams in the state, the Watauga River is the perfect place to enjoy fishing in Carter County. Guided rafting and kayaking trips are also available on the Watauga.

Your mountain adventure could also include a zip line tour through the forest at Off the Grid Mountain Adventures, exploring the mountains on horseback, or visiting the world’s largest natural rhododendron garden at Roan Mountain State Park.

After a long day in the mountains stroll through historic downtown Elizabethton and enjoy the many dining and shopping opportunities.

Come visit Carter County and see why Tennessee’s Mountain Playground is a premier destination for outdoor recreation.


Carter County History

Carter County is a treasure trove of rich history. A covered bridge built in 1882 is a focal point for Elizabethton’s downtown area and Covered Bridge Park. Just down the road Sycamore Shoals State Park features a full size reconstruction of the 18th century Fort Watauga and a museum highlighting the nationally significant events which took place here such as the founding of the Watauga Association and the mustering of the Overmountain Men. Reenactments and other interpretive programs are a great way to learn about the local history, including Tennessee’s official outdoor drama, Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals which takes place every July. Two historic house museums, Sabine Hill and the Carter Mansion, give visitors a look back at what life was like in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Come visit Carter County to learn more about America’s early history and see what life was like for early settlers.