Frugal Foodie Mama: 5 Family Friendly Outdoor Adventures in Anderson County, Tennessee

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

5 Family Friendly Outdoor Adventures in Anderson County, Tennessee

With it's rolling mountains & valleys, as well as serene rivers, & lakes, Anderson County in eastern Tennessee is the perfect family friendly destination for outdoor enthusiasts & adventure seekers...
With it's rolling mountains & valleys, as well as serene rivers, & lakes, Anderson County in eastern Tennessee is the perfect family friendly destination for outdoor enthusiasts & adventure seekers.
This post was created in partnership with Adventure Anderson County. As always, all opinions & thoughts expressed below are 100% my own.

With it's rolling mountains & valleys, Anderson County in eastern Tennessee naturally sets the stage for a family friendly & adventure packed vacation. Whether you and your family members happen to be hiking enthusiasts, avid fishermen, nature lovers, or perhaps prefer something a little more adrenaline inducing, Anderson County is the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts & adventure seekers. 

My family and I spent 4 days in Anderson County discovering & exploring exactly what it's mountains, valleys, rivers, and lakes have to offer the adventure seeking family.  Below are my top 5 recommendations of family friendly outdoor adventures to experience in the Anderson County area of Tennessee...

1. Norris Dam State Park
Situated on about 4000 acres & spanning two counties, Norris Dam State Park is actually divided into two distinct parks- one more historical (the Anderson County side) and one more modern.

Situated on about 4000 acres & spanning two counties, Norris Dam State Park is actually divided into two distinct parks- one more historical (the Anderson County side) and one more modern. The two parts of the state park are separated by the 1860 foot wide Norris Dam that was built by the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1936 as part of the New Deal. In addition to over 21 miles of hiking trails, Norris Dam State Park is also home to many historic structures & artifacts including the Rice Gristmill (pictured above) that was originally built in 1798 & then dismantled & reconstructed in 1935 where it stands today at the head of the Clear Creek trail. 

Though we didn't have quite enough time explore all 2000 acres of the Anderson County side of the state park, we did fit in a little morning hike on the Clear Creek trail...


Clear Creek trail is a 12 mile loop walking trail. The trail is mostly shaded with gentle upgrades as it follows alongside the path of Clear Creek.

Clear Creek trail is a 12 mile loop walking trail. Although we didn't do the entire 12 mile loop, we did venture in a couple of miles and then hiked back out. The trail is mostly shaded with gentle upgrades as it follows alongside the path of Clear Creek making it the perfect hiking trail for families with younger children. The path meanders down towards the creek bed at various spots so you can let the little ones explore the water's edge a bit during your hike.

The Anderson County side of Norris Dam State Park ends at the nearly 27 story high Norris Dam. An up close & personal visit to the awe-inspiring dam is definitely a must-do when visiting the state park.

The Anderson County side of Norris Dam State Park ends at the nearly 27 story high Norris Dam. An up close & personal visit to the awe-inspiring dam is definitely a must-do when visiting the state park. You can view the dam from the base of it, but I would also highly recommend taking a stroll over the top of the dam which also serves as a bridge & roadway for vehicles as well as pedestrian traffic. Note: This may not be for those of you who are faint of heart when it comes to heights. However, I think it is well worth conquering your fear to walk across the dam at dusk just to take in the gorgeous sunsets over Norris Lake from the other side of the dam...

Make plans to walk across Norris Dam at dusk just to take in the gorgeous sunsets over Norris Lake from the other side of the dam.

After a morning or afternoon of exploring the state park, grab a stool at the authentic 1940's soda fountain inside Hoskin's Drug Store in the historic downtown area of Clinton & order a creamy & cool hand dipped milkshake or malt...

Grab a stool at the authentic 1940's soda fountain inside Hoskin's Drug Store in the historic downtown area of Clinton, TN & order a creamy & cool hand dipped milkshake or malt.

2. Sequoyah Marina at Norris Lake.
The best way to see and enjoy Norris Lake is by a pontoon boat rented from the Sequoyah Marina. Not only are pontoons great for families, but they are also a budget friendly option.

Just on the other side of Norris Dam, you will find Norris Lake. Boasting 809 miles of shoreline, the lake is actually a reservoir that was created during the building of the dam. Though primarily created for flooding purposes, Norris Lake now serves as a eastern Tennessee recreational hot spot for water sports and fishing enthusiasts.

If you ask me, the best way to see and enjoy Norris Lake is by a pontoon boat rented from the Sequoyah Marina. Not only are pontoons great for families, but they are also a budget friendly option. You can snag a pontoon rental at the marina for half the day for under $200! And that is $200 well spent for an afternoon of floating & splashing around in the lake...
The best way to see and enjoy Norris Lake is by a pontoon boat rented from the Sequoyah Marina. Not only are pontoons great for families, but they are also a budget friendly option.

We were fascinated by some of the sandstone & limestone rock formations (pictured right above) that we found jutting out from some areas of the shoreline along Norris Lake. Though you will definitely be tempted to try and take a closer peek at them, steer clear of getting too close to the shoreline. There are many rock formations that you cannot see that are right under the water's surface!

The best way to see and enjoy Norris Lake is by a pontoon boat rented from the Sequoyah Marina. Not only are pontoons great for families, but they are also a budget friendly option.

After a day of pontooning or jet skiing on Norris Lake, be sure to stop back in at Sequoyah Marina for a bite to eat at their restaurant.

After a day of pontooning or jet skiing on Norris Lake, be sure to stop back in at Sequoyah Marina for a bite to eat at their restaurant. Pictured above is their Loaded Nachos with pulled pork. They offer pizzas, sandwiches, burgers, salads, quesadillas, as well as a full children's menu.

3. Windrock Park.
Windrock Park, which was originally owned & operated by a coal company, is situated on 73,000 acres offering it's permit guests over 300 miles of trails to explore on their ATV's, side by sides, Jeeps, & mountain bikes.

If outdoor adventure on ATV & off road trails is more your thing, then definitely plan to spend a day or two at Windrock Park in Oliver Springs. The park, which was originally owned & operated by a coal company, is situated on 73,000 acres offering it's permit guests over 300 miles of trails to explore on their ATV's, side by sides, Jeeps, & mountain bikes. In fact, many of the old coal truck roads have been converted into trails. It stands as wonderful example of what can be reborn and reclaimed from the decline of the coal industry in Tennessee as well as other areas of Appalachia.

At Windrock Park, the coal mining operation of the older days has now given way to the 18 giant wind turbines that dot the ridge of the mountain ridge.
Photo credit: Jake Bice Photography

The coal mining operation of the older days has now given way to the 18 giant wind turbines that dot the mountain ridge at the park. Even if you do not want to explore the off road trails, you can purchase a viewing permit to drive up the main road that winds up to the top of the mountain just to see the windmills and to take in breathtaking mountain views like the one pictured below.

Windrock Park, which was originally owned & operated by a coal company, is situated on 73,000 acres offering it's permit guests over 300 miles of trails to explore on their ATV's, side by sides, Jeeps, & mountain bikes.
Photo credit: Jake Bice Photography

Windrock Park is definitely more than just ATV & mountain bike trails. The park also offers its guests nature trails for hiking, a shooting range with firearm rentals, a R/C park, cabin rentals, & a campground complete with RV hook-ups.

4. Adventures Outdoors.
Offering kayak, paddle boat, canoe, paddle board, & bike rentals, Adventures Outdoors is definitely the way to go if you & your family are wanting to explore the Melton Hill Lake area in Oak Ridge.

Offering kayak, paddle boat, canoe, paddle board, & bike rentals, Adventures Outdoors is definitely the way to go if you & your family are wanting to explore the Melton Hill Lake area in Oak Ridge. You can rent equipment by the hour, the half day, or for the entire day. No matter what your experience level is (or lack thereof) or age, all are welcome to get active & explore at Adventures Outdoors.


Offering kayak, paddle boat, canoe, paddle board, & bike rentals, Adventures Outdoors is definitely the way to go if you & your family are wanting to explore the Melton Hill Lake area in Oak Ridge.

If exploring via water is not your thing, then no worries! Adventures Outdoors also provides bicycle rentals so that you can explore the area by land. 

After working up an appetite paddling or peddling at Adventures Outdoors, be sure to stop in at Big Ed's Pizza in Oak Ridge to share a New York Style pizza with the family. Big Ed's has been making & serving pizza only for the past 50 years, so you know they that have to be doing something right there. ;)

5. Fly Fishing the Clinch River.
Open to both wading and drifting in a boat, the Clinch River in Anderson County, TN is considered to be one of the best trout fisheries in the United States.
Photo credit: Jake Bice Photography

My husband was beyond giddy when he found out that our trip to Anderson County, Tennessee would also include a full morning of guided fly fishing on the Clinch River. Open to both wading and drifting in a boat, the Clinch River is considered to be one of the best trout fisheries in the United States. From spring to early fall, the Clinch is stocked with rainbow trout, brown trout, & brook trout.  

My husband caught around seven trout during his 4 hour tour with his fly fishing guide, Clayton Gist. He said it was definitely one of the most exhilarating and fun fly fishing experiences he has ever had in his 16 years as a fly fisherman.

Open to both wading and drifting in a boat, the Clinch River in Anderson County, TN is considered to be one of the best trout fisheries in the United States.
Photo credit: Jake Bice Photography

What you need to know before you fly fish the Clinch River:
  • Though fly fishermen of all levels are encouraged to fish the Clinch, you do need to own your own fly fishing equipment & gear (waders, boots, reel, etc.).
  • You also must purchase a fishing license prior to your scheduled guided fly fishing tour. You can find out more about Tennessee fishing license requirements by CLICKING HERE.
  • If you plan on wading, please be sure to check the Tennessee Valley Authority's website first for the water generation schedule.
After a morning or afternoon of fly fishing the Clinch River, you will definitely be hungry. Head into Clinton and grab a table at the Golden Girls Family Restaurant for home cooked southern comfort food. You definitely cannot go wrong with ordering their famous Broasted Chicken dinner...

Grab a table at the Golden Girls Family Restaurant in Clinton, TN for home cooked southern comfort food. You definitely cannot go wrong with ordering their famous Broasted Chicken dinner.


With it's rolling mountains & valleys, as well as serene rivers, & lakes, Anderson County in eastern Tennessee is the perfect family friendly destination for outdoor enthusiasts & adventure seekers.

Are you and your family outdoor enthusiasts & adventure seekers?
Which of these 5 outdoor adventure in Anderson County, TN would you and your family want to try first? :)


For more information & to start planning your family outdoor adventure soon, be sure to visit the Adventure Anderson County website!

Looking for a family friendly hotel to stay at during your visit to Anderson County? Then be sure to book a room at the Holiday Inn Express in Clinton. They offer 2 bedroom suites (perfect for families!) as well as a free continental breakfast each morning of your stay. The kids loved their indoor/outdoor pool as well. 

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