The Secret Ocoee

Tuesday, July 18, 2017 - by TVA Newsroom

Everyone knows that the Ocoee River is one of the most popular whitewater rafting adventures in America. But the little-known secret is that the southeast Tennessee destination is also an epicenter for many other forms of world-class recreation.

We caught up with Ryan Cooke, prominent river guide and manager of the Ocoee Inn & Marina, to learn more about what the Ocoee River and Parksville Lake have to offer.  

“The Ocoee has everything to offer,” says Cooke, “from a relaxing family adventures to adrenaline-soaked mountain biking, backwoods hiking and hardcore rafting that will satisfy thrill seekers.”

Situated less within a four hour drive for about 8 million people, the Ocoee is near five major metropolitan areas—Atlanta, Ga.; Charlotte, N.C; Huntsville, Ala.; and Knoxville and Chattanooga Tenn. Just turn east off of I-75 at Cleveland Tennessee, and 20 minutes later you’re in one of the most beautiful and remote areas of the Cherokee National Forest.

Looking at what the Ocoee region has to offer, it’s easy to see why the Ocoee is one big factor in the value of the Tennessee River system being worth about a million dollars per shoreline mile. The rafting industry alone is worth millions.

But if rafting isn’t your thing—or if you just want to add other notes to your Ocoee vacay—then Cooke recommends the following family friendly activities:

Easy Pontoon Boat Floats

With 1,930 acres of water surface, Parksville Lake (the reservoir formed behind Ocoee Dam No. 1) provides endless options for outdoor fun. Cooke says there are two islands to explore on the lake and plenty of areas to anchor the boat to swim and relax the day away. There are three public boat ramps to launch from. If you don’t have your own boat, the Ocoee Inn rents pontoons for as little as $135 for four hours and pets are welcome.

Hiking Benton Falls

The 3.2 mile smooth, sandy trail leads to a 65-foot waterfall, which is a sight to behold, especially after a heavy rainfall. Families can sit at the bottom of the waterfall and relax to the sound of the roaring water while kids and pets explore. The falls are also accessible from the from a path made of easy-to-navigate stone steps. For safety, Cooke recommends parents keep a close eye on children near the top of the falls. Dogs are welcome on the trail but must remain on leash.

Paddle Boarding/Kayaking

Cooke says “human power” is one of the best ways to take in the region’s beauty. When gliding along Parksville Lake’s 47 miles of shoreline it’s not uncommon to see eagles, bear, fox, turkey and deer. If you’re really lucky you may even see at the water’s edge one of the rare mountain lions that still roam the Cherokee National Forest. There are many areas to park and put in your paddle board or kayak. If you can’t bring your own equipment, the Ocoee Inn rents paddle boards and kayaks for as little as $15 per hour.


According to Cooke, Parksville Lake is one of the State’s best fisheries and a great place to spend the weekend fishing. With several campgrounds for RVs and three public boat ramps there is no excuse not to put your line in and try your luck. Large fish abound in the lake and anglers have pulled out three Tennessee State Record fish—Alabama bass (7 lbs.), yellow perch (2 lbs., 2 oz.), and coosa bass (1 lb., 15 oz.). You could be the next to reel in a record breaker.

Camping at the Caney Creek Community

If you’re really adventurous you can set out to explore this local favorite destination. Built in the early 1900s to house workers who constructed the flume that the Tennessee Valley Authority uses to divert water and create electricity, the Caney Creek Community was abandoned after the work was completed, but several foundations and old building still exist today. Cooke says that this is a great place to camp—just ask the Ocoee Inn team for directions.

Plan your Ocoee trip at the Tennessee Visitor’s Bureau or call the Ocoee Inn & Marina at (423) 338-5591.

Lake Chickamauga Selected To Host Fishing League Worldwide Tour In 2019

Fishing League Worldwide (FLW), the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, announced Thursday that Lake Chickamauga has been selected to host the sixth FLW Tour event of the 2019 season,  May 2-5  in Dayton, Tn. The 2019 FLW Tour features seven regular-season tournaments and the Forrest Wood Cup. Each tournament is streamed on FLW Live and broadcast in high-definition ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Receives Grant Funding To Support Participation in 10-Minute Walk Campaign

The City of Chattanooga will receive $40,000 in grant funding from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) as part of their 10-Minute Walk Campaign. The grant funding will be used to support city planning efforts that help increase access to high-quality parks within a 10-minute walk. The 10-Minute Walk campaign is led by NRPA, The Trust for Public Land (TPL), and the ... (click for more)

5 People Shot On Cowart Street Early Sunday Morning

Five people were shot on Cowart Street early Sunday morning.   At approximately 2:55 a.m., Chattanooga Police responded to the area of 1400 Cowart Street on reports of multiple people shot. The shooting was near Coyote Jack's where one person was killed and another injured in a shooting in December 2017.   Upon arrival, police found several ... (click for more)

Body Of Robert Townsend, 60, Found In Dumpster On Laura Street

The body of Robert Townsend, 60, was found on Friday in a dumpster on Laura Street.   At approximately  11:19 a.m. , Chattanooga Police were dispatched to a deceased party in the 2500 block of Laura Street. Upon arrival, officers located the body inside the bin.     Violent Crimes Bureau responded to the scene. The decedent was transported to the ... (click for more)

Here We Go Again With The Same Cummings Highway, 12th Street Flooding

Here we go again with the same pitiful news reports about the Cummings Highway Interstate interchange with I-24 - Flooding yet again after a heavy rain.  TDOT is derelict in not having repaired this years ago.  How hard is it to get some excavators out there to dig up the collapsed drainage pipes which TDOT says are the cause of the flooding and replace them with ... (click for more)

Deal With The Graffiti Vandals

I travel to other neat old cities and don't see nearly the graffiti vandalism as in Chattanooga. Why do we allow one or two or three repeat vandals to mar our venerable Walnut Street Bridge, the pillars to the Holmberg Bridge, the remodeled Chief John Ross Market Street Bridge, the walls along our multi-million-dollar Riverwalk, our sidewalks, street signs and our old limestone ... (click for more)