Winding through the rugged, beautiful Appalachian Mountains, Bristol is home to some of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia’s best scenic spots for fall foliage. You can see some of the Eastern United States’ highest peak – over 5,500’ – within 50 miles of Bristol. After enjoying Mother Nature’s grand splendor of colors, head to Historic Downtown Bristol and enjoy the many specialty shops, antiques, fine art, southern eats and craft breweries. Explore two of Bristol’s most picturesque city parks – Steele Creek Park & Nature Center and Sugar Hollow Park, as well as the breathtaking South Holston Dam, the world’s largest earthen dam.
With over 2,200 acres, Steele Creek Park is the third largest municipal park in the state of Tennessee. The park features more than 150 acres of developed recreational area, a 54-acre lake surrounded by winding trails and nearly 2,000 acres of undeveloped forested knobs. For those seeking fall foliage, hit the trails! Steele Creek offers over 24 miles of walking, hiking and biking trails from beginner to expert level. The park also features a two-story (5,000 sq. ft.) Nature Center with a diverse array of exhibits showcasing the natural history and beauty of the Southern Appalachians!
Sugar Hollow Park, located in Bristol, Va., is a 400-acre park with the following features: sports fields, picnic sites, camping sites, a pavilion, pool and several nature trails and wetlands. Just across the street from the wetlands trail you will find a bit of history known as the Resting Tree–a place where the slaves of the plantation rested during their work day–and were eventually buried there. Explore the trails back into Sugar Hollow Park for some scenic photo ops.
South Holston Dam is another stunning fall foliage spot you’ll want to visit – unmatched natural beauty and outdoor recreation and experience water skiing, fishing, boating, hiking and more. South Holston Lake was named for the river that bears the name of Steven Holston, an early settler of the Tennessee Valley. The construction of South Holston Dam began in 1942, and was completed in 1950 with a total cost of construction of the reservoir at $31 million, and taking containing 97,500 cubic yards of concrete. The Dam is 285 feet tall and 1,600 feet long. The reservoir is 10,053 acres with a shoreline of 160 miles and 8 miles of island shoreline. A footbridge from the parking lot below the dam leads to Osceola Island and its one-mile-loop wildlife trail. Early in the morning or late in the evening are the best times to sight waterfowl, deer and other wildlife along with the fog lifting off the water. There is a visitor center installation on site to tell you more about the history of TVA and South Holston Dam.
Get out and Discover Bristol this fall, and don’t forget to #DiscoverBristol to share your fall foliage pictures with us.