Sunday, September 19

There are plenty of scenic trails for those interested in doing their own driving

For the cost of a tank of gas, you can take one of Tennessee’s highways to a new favorite getaway.

Theme drives

  • Music lovers can take Tennessee Music Pathways that weave in the fabric of seven types of music. Crisscrossing 1,200 miles across the state, take your pick of gospel, soul, blues, bluegrass, country, rock ’n’ roll or rockabilly. The tour focuses on six areas: Bristol, Knoxville, the Smokies, Chattanooga, Nashville and Memphis.
  • From Memphis, head northeast along the Cotton Junction Trail. Choose a route other than Interstate 40 to experience the cotton fields, historic landmarks and sites on local highways that meander through smaller towns.
  • Drive to Brownsville to the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center and get an overview of three key influences in that part of the state: The Hatchie River Museum, West Tennessee Cotton Museum
    and West Tennessee Music Museum.
  • Take the 87-mile Jack Trail between Nashville and Lynchburg and go through
    Tennessee walking horse
    country — including Shelbyville, home of many music stars, and Wartrace, where you’ll find the Tennessee Walking Horse Museum. Wartrace has more than 140 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Then take a tour of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, for whom this drive is named.

Scenic drives

  • A trip along the Mississippi River on the Great River Road Trail between Memphis and Reelfoot Lake offers views from high bluffs, a drive past Trimble’s Emerson E. Parks Covered Bridge and a taste of history at the Newbern Depot and Railroad Museum. Along the western border and the Mississippi River, the Great River Road Trail features parks, historic sites, museums and outdoor adventures.
  • Boyds Creek Fall Driving Tour travels through rolling hills and fertile valleys to pass by plantations and historic churches. The loop route goes along old US 441 and offers panoramic views.
  • Douglas Lake Fall Driving Tour offers family activities such as the Kyker Farms Corn Maze with hayrides and a pumpkin patch. Plan a picnic beside Douglas Lake, and then enjoy the overlook toward the dam.
  • The Tennessee River Trail along the Tennessee River between Memphis and Nashville features 124 points of interest for all members of the family. Visit Loretta Lynn’s Dude Ranch, where — if your timing is right — you can go on a trail ride between Sept. 13 and 18. Follow the Humphreys County 3 Rivers Quilt Trail
    with colorful quilt blocks that adorn barns, homes and businesses. Or check out the Humphreys County Museum and Civil War Fort for a step back in time.

Mountain drives

  • Sevierville, the birthplace of Dolly Parton, holds some secrets for scenic drives. And there are several promoted by the Sevierville Convention and Visitors Bureau that take visitors through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and East Tennessee. Off the Beaten Path meanders along back roads past several historic churches built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This route goes past the Harrisburg Covered Bridge, constructed in 1875.

Visit rare covered bridges

  • Covered bridges have a certain mystique, and three major ones are located in East Tennessee — the Harrisburg Covered Bridge near Sevierville, the Bible Covered Bridge in Midway and the Elizabethton Covered Bridge in Elizabethton. By taking side trips off I-81, the journey is approximately 100 miles to view all three and can make a fun day with a stop for lunch along the way.

About Author

Pamela A. Keene is a freelance journalist who writes about travel, personality features, gardening and how-to topics. An avid photographer, she lives in Flowery Branch, Georgia, and has been published in magazines across the country.

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