Obed Wild and Scenic River


Climbers in East Tennessee often reference the Obed, but since heights make my bones a little shaky and my heart flutter, I’ve never been that interested in checking it out. Sunday dawned cool and bright, so we rallied quickly to determine where we should spend our day outdoors.  We settled on the Obed Wild and Scenic River, since it offered a 4 mile hike (perfect distance for us!), and is close enough to our house (+/- 1 hour).


Here are some highlights of the trail:

  • Shaded picnic area at the trail head
  • Nice facilities (a “bathroom,” picnic tables, bear safe trash cans, boardwalk, ample parking)
  • Not too crowded
  • Boardwalk to the edge of the gorge for scenic view at the beginning of the trail
  • Flat hike – not much elevation change
  • Interesting rock formations
  • Side trails that cut off to overlooks of the gorge – would be ideal in fall
  • Wildlife

Some cons along the way:

  • Wildlife – we saw a snake!  After a some googling, I’m pretty sure it was a copperhead.  It “froze” on the trail, and would not move, unlike other snakes we’ve come across, which is characteristic of copperheads.  We also felt like the birds of prey (romantically we called them hawks, in reality, I think they were buzzards) were circling for us.  Needless to say we quickly took cover.
  • Over an hour away
  • Takes attention to arrive at the correct entrance to the park – you’ll need to go to the Lilly Bridge entrance to find the trail head for the Point Trail hike, which is the hike we completed


The best part of a trip to the Obed though – SWIMMING!  After hiking, we drove back down to the bridge, and immediately noticed people floating in the river below us.  I was prepared with towels and swimsuits, so we changed and zig-zaged down to the water. The river is perfect for floating, swimming out to the different sand bars and rocks along the creek, and sunbathing on the rocks along the water (I sort of felt like one of those beached sea lions flopped on the deck that you see in certain bays – I tried not to be too hard on myself though).  Next time, I’d definitely come with a tube float and a cooler stocked with a 6-pack to top off an afternoon relaxing in the water.  I know you’re thinking  “What about snakes swimming with you?” Well, lots of other folks were already splashing around, so I figured those cold-blooded animals had already scattered. The water is also clear, so as long as the sun is shining, you’ll be able to see the bottom. Careful, once the sun falls behind the hills the water turns inky black and everyone skedaddled… so did we! If you check out the Obed, let me know what you think!