The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development officially launched on Thursday the Ring of Fire Trail at a special event held at The Fontanel.
The 10th of 16 self-guided driving tours in the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program, The Ring of Fire travels 334 miles from Nashville across the Cumberland Plateau.
The Ring of Fire Trail is the result of a partnership between multiple state agencies and city and county officials. The end result is a trail made up of sites and attractions in Clay, Davidson, Macon, Robertson, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale and Jackson counties that leads travelers on a journey through legends, historic sites, charming small towns and some of Middle Tennessee’s most beautiful scenery.
State and local officials participated in the special event, including Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development; Commissioner John Schroer, Tennessee Department of Transportation; Robertson County Mayor Howard Bradley; and Smith County Mayor Michael Nesbitt.
At the launch, dignitaries welcomed guests, thanked participating partners on the trail committee, premiered the 27-page comprehensive brochure and unveiled one of the TDOT highway signs that will soon mark the trail.
The trail officially begins at the Downtown Nashville Visitor Center where guests can pick up brochures, maps and coupons before heading out to discover Tennessee’s back roads along the trail. However, visitors can choose to begin their trip at any site along the path. Once on the trail, guests can explore a mix of big cities and small towns, preserved homes and museums and historic places commemorating the American Civil War.
The Ring of Fire Trail, with the tagline, “Ghost Stories and Music Legends Trail,” features 113 tourism sites. At the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, take an intimate look at the story of one of America’s favorite music genres through memorabilia, rare photos and videos and traveling exhibits.
Visit Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery and get an up-close look at the native warm water fish used to stock the Tennessee Valley Authority lakes in not only Tennessee, but Georgia and Alabama. Learn the story of the legendary a capella group, the Fisk Jubilee Singers of historic Fisk University.
Several country music legends call home various cities and towns along the Ring of Fire. Johnny Cash, known as the “Man in Black,” began his career in country music, but later became best known for his rockabilly, rock ‘n roll, blues, folk and gospel music. Cash’s wife, June Carter Cash, was an icon in her own right, whose solo career earned her wide acclaim as a singer-songwriter.
Modern pop-country sensation Taylor Swift also grew up along the Ring of Fire, attending Hendersonville High School, which was featured in her 2009 “You Belong With Me” music video. Barbara Mandrell, best known for her television variety show in the 1970s and 80s, made her home just north of Nashville at the Fontanel Mansion & Farm.
The stories of the Ring of Fire are as rich as the sweet smoke billowing from the tobacco-curing barns in early fall. One of America’s most famous ghost stories, The Bell Witch, took place in Adams. Also on the trail are Tennessee’s first interstates, Avery Trace and Walton Road, which laid the foundation for the towns and farms located along the Ring of Fire. Civil War markers can be found at various locations along the trail, telling the story of the war that affected all 95 counties throughout the state.
Tennessee is filled with great outdoor opportunities, with several state and local parks, trails and marinas located on the Ring of Fire, including Dale Hollow Lake, Standing Stone State Park and the Granville Marina. Also along the trail, appetites are curbed at a number of mom-and-pop spots, including T.B. Sutton General Store, Varallo’s Chile Parlor and Douglas and Company BBQ.
The Department of Tourist Development provides marketing support and branding starter kits for each new trail, including development of trail logos, design and oversight of the award-winning Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways website at www.tntrailsandbyways.com and creation of a comprehensive trails brochure highlighting attractions, culinary, agritourism, outdoor recreation, shopping, history, culture, music and much more, along the trail.
For more information on the Ring of Fire Trail, please contact Derrick Smith at Derrick.Smith@tn.gov or visit www.tntrailsandbyways.com.
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