A Day Trip Along the East Tennessee Crossing Scenic Byway

A Day Trip Along the East Tennessee Crossing Scenic Byway


Traveling to Cumberland Gap National Historic Park or the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Take the scenic route along the nation’s newest National Scenic Byway

The East Tennessee Crossing Scenic Byway’s 83-mile route is a destination of its own with a backdrop of mountains and lakes, historic sites and charming towns, and it’s also the perfect route connecting two of America’s most treasured national parks, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Traversing mostly along U.S. Route 25E/State Route 32, immerse yourself in the beauty and history of East Tennessee with a day trip along the nation’s newest National Scenic Byway. 

By car or motorcycle, the byway will wind you through its picturesque landscapes and iconic landmarks, offering a glimpse into East Tennessee’s rich heritage and natural wonders. Starting at the northernmost part of the byway at Cumberland Gap National Park, you’ll begin your journey on 25E.

8 a.m. – Cumberland Gap

Begin your day in the town of Cumberland Gap with coffee and breakfast at Gap Creek Coffee House. Sit on the front porch along Gap Creek and enjoy the panoramic view of the Pinnacle Overlook as you fuel up for the adventures ahead. 

9 a.m. – Harrogate, Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum

Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum

Continue your exploration just a few miles away at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, nestled on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University. Housing one of the world’s largest private collections of Lincoln and Civil War material, the museum offers a captivating glimpse into Lincoln’s formative years and presidency.

10:30 a.m. – Veterans Overlook at Clinch Mountain

Depart from the museum and make your way 26 miles to Veterans Overlook at Clinch Mountain located on the southeastern slope of Clinch Mountain on the eastbound side of US-25E. Pause to honor the Grainger County veterans and take in the breathtaking views that stretch across four states. As the most photographed spot in Grainger County, the overlook offers views for hundreds of miles. Grab a sweet treat at the nearby Clinch Mountain Bakery and Restaurant.

11 a.m. – Bean Station and Bean Station Tavern

Continue along the byway to the base of Clinch Mountain and explore Bean Station. Step back in time as you wander through the historic streets of one of Tennessee’s earliest settlements, which served as a crossroad for Daniel Boone’s Wilderness Road and the Great Indian Warpath.

12:30 p.m. – Cherokee, Norris, Douglas Lakes, and Panther Creek State Park

Journey onward to the tranquil shores of Cherokee, Norris, and Douglas Lakes, created by the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1930s and 1940s and offer year-round recreation. Take in the scenic beauty, go fishing, or explore the hiking trails of Panther Creek State Park located along the shorelines of Cherokee Lake. Take a stroll to stretch your legs or if you’re feeling adventurous, rent a boat or jet ski for a few hours.

3:30 p.m. – Morristown, Crockett Tavern Museum and Longstreet Museum

After a few hours by the lakes, next on your route is Morristown, the largest city along the scenic byway – and Tennessee’s Disc Golf Capital. Explore the charm-filled main street lined with historic buildings and overhead sidewalks, browse boutiques and sample delicious cafes. Be sure to try the famous Grainger County tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market, one of the longest operating markets in the area, open May through October.

Learn more about the area’s pioneering and Civil War history at the Crockett Tavern Museum, a reconstruction of David Crockett’s boyhood home, and at the Longstreet Museum in nearby Russellville. This museum is dedicated to the memory of Confederate General James Longstreet, and serves as the centerpiece of the Tennessee Civil War Trails in East Tennessee.

5:30 p.m. – White Pine, French Broad River and Rankins Bottom

Continue your journey to the charming town of White Pine, nestled along the banks of the French Broad River. Stroll along the scenic riverfront or on one of the nearby trails, or explore Rankins Bottom, an important Audubon birding site located in the tailwaters of Douglas Lake.

6:30 p.m. – Dandridge, banks of Douglas Lake

Historic Dandridge

As the day winds down, arrive in Dandridge. Originally known as “Dandridge Crossing,” this town served as an important crossroads for both a stagecoach road and later, a railroad route. Town myth states that after a plea from residents, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt saved the town from flooding during the construction of Douglas Lake. Today you’ll find historic architecture, shopping, dining and quaint lodging along the banks of the lake. 

7:30 p.m. – Newport, Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains and Cherokee National Forest

End your drive along the byway at its southernmost point in Newport. This city is located at the base of the Cherokee National Forest and serves as a gateway to both the forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Have dinner at one of the many locally owned restaurants along Broadway Street and prepare for the rest of your adventure in this pristine wilderness area. Home to some of the most breathtaking vistas in the country, there are endless opportunities for outdoor adventure. Hike along scenic trails, marvel at cascading waterfalls, or simply take in the tranquility of nature’s embrace.

As you reflect on your day trip along the East Tennessee Crossing Scenic Byway, you’ll carry with you memories of breathtaking landscapes, historic landmarks, and the warm hospitality of East Tennessee.