Outdoor Adventures in Johnson County TN

Our county is an outdoor paradise and is known as mountain and lake country offering many types of outdoor adventures including hiking with waterfalls and great views, scenic biking and water sports on a pristine lake. There are also all types of camping, great fishing, horseback riding, excellent motorcycle touring and a protected recreation area with blazed ATV trails. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you are going to enjoy visiting our area of Northeast Tennessee.


Our county offers some of the best hiking in Northeast Tennessee. There are many nice trails in our area including a scenic section of the famous Appalachian Trail.  There are trails for all experience levels providing good views, water falls and historic sites. An easy hike is the Laurel Creek Trail which is known as a wildlife haven in the Cherokee National Forest. A moderate level hike is the scenic Iron Mountain Trail that meanders along majestic Iron Mountain. A more difficult hike is the back forest Gentry Falls Trail that meanders for 4 ½ miles along a creek through the deep woods to an amazing double waterfall.


Our county offers both good off road and on road biking opportunities. There are many country roads offering peaceful scenic rides, challenging climbs up mountains and thrilling downhill descends. Doe Mountain Recreation Area offers some rougher mountain biking on most of their Multi-Use Trails. For those wanting a milder trail biking experience, you can ride the excellent Virginia Creeper Trail in nearby Damascus, Virginia.

Water Sports

Johnson County is home to beautiful Watauga Lake, which is said to be the third cleanest lake in America. This pristine lake offers a variety of water sports in a breathtaking setting of mountains rising over a mountain lake. Activities include swimming, fishing, motor boats, wave runners, sail boats, kayaks and paddle boards. There are a number of marinas on the lake to service the boat activity and to provide boat rentals. There are public picnic areas, beach areas and boat ramps.


Whether you are seeking primitive camping, full service camping or clamping, we have it all in our area of Northeast Tennessee. There are government owned campgrounds and privately owned campgrounds. We even have a full service campground located behind our Welcome Center in Mountain City, which is part of our tourism initiative.


Our county offers some of the best fly fishing and reel fishing in the entire region.  Watauga Lake provides some great reel fishing by boat and shoreline. Our area has many flowing creeks providing excellent fly fishing opportunities. There are several fishing guide services available for those wanting a guided trip.

Horseback Riding

Our area offers equestrians many riding choices. There are many peaceful back roads, blazed trails and wide open ranges available for your pleasure. Horses are permitted on all Multi- Use Trails at Doe Mountain Recreation Area. For milder trails, you can visit nearby Damascus, Virginia to experience the Virginia Creeper Trail. For some longer trails with some open ranges, you can visit nearby Mount Rogers Recreation Area and Grayson Highlands State Park.

Motorcycle Touring

Johnson County is home to the famous Snake 421 Motorcycle and Sport Car Route. Here you will find something for all types of riders including exciting winding descends, challenging tight curves, sweeping wide turns and easy to cruise sections. You will travel 489 curves over three mountains and through one beautiful valley.  Experience a lush forest, winding mountain roads and rolling farm land.  The hub for the Snake 421 is the Shady Valley Country Store located at the main intersection of US Hwy 421 and TN Hwy 91 in the middle of Shady Valley, Tennessee.

ATV Riding

Doe Mountain Recreation Area has over 8,600 acres of protected mountain terrain offering over 50 miles of blazed Multi-Use Adventure Trails. Here you will find ATV trails of all difficulty levels providing some of the best ATV riding in the region. Here you can experience scenic views and challenging rides.