The Tennessee Departments of Tourist Development and Transportation, in partnership with tourism organizations in seven counties in East Tennessee launched the Rocky Top Trail Tuesday, the 14th of 16 self-guided driving tours in the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program.
The Rocky Top Trail is the result of a partnership between multiple state agencies and city and county officials. The end product is a brand new tourism asset - a 282 mile trail made up of sites and attractions in Knox, Sevier, Blount, Cocke, Jefferson, Loudon and Monroe counties showcasing East Tennessee’s history, culture, landscape, music and cuisine.
Executive Director Vicki Simms, Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce hosted the event. Both Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Tn. Department of Tourist Development, and Assistant Commissioner Toks Omishakin, Tn. Department of Transportation, made special remarks. Bluegrass band, Monroeville, performed, including a rousing rendition of “Rocky Top” to close the ceremony.
“The trails initiative is one of the most comprehensive programs ever to be launched from our department,” said Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Department of Tourist Development, “We know millions of visitors are traveling to this region every year. Our goal with the Rocky Top Trail is to encourage travelers to get off the beaten path and explore some of Tennessee’s hidden gems. We want more visitors, staying longer and spending more in Tennessee.”
The trail officially begins in Gatlinburg at the Gatlinburg/Great Smoky Mountains National Park Welcome Center where guests can pick up brochures, maps and coupons before heading out to discover Tennessee’s back roads. Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation’s Knoxville Visitor Center on Gay Street is also a primary trail hub. However, visitors can choose to begin their trip at any point along the path. Once on the trail, travelers can explore 282 miles through East Tennessee.
Appalachian arts and crafts are abundant on the Rocky Top Trail. Visitors can hone in on their artistic skills with staff and artists at the Arrowmont School of the Arts and Crafts, or visit Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community, the nation’s largest organization of independent artisans with more than 100 members. Spirit of the Hand in Dandridge features the work of 150 artisans from around the region and country.
On Rocky Top, travelers can explore Greats Smoky Mountains National Park, catch an exhilarating class 3 or 4 ride on the rapids of the Pigeon River in nearby Hartford; see the beautiful scenery from up above on one of the many zip lines in the area or for a cooler experience, go below into Forbidden or Tuckaleechee Caverns.
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. The 27 page Rocky Top brochure highlights 130 points of interests.
For more information on the Rocky Top Trail, please contact Dave Jones at Dave.Jones@tn.gov or visit www.tntrailsandbyways.com.
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