Description - The Watauga Ranger District of the Cherokee National Forest includes 175,000 acres in northeastern Tennessee in Carte, Johnson, Sullivan and Unicoi Counties. The district lies between the South Holston River drainage and the North Carolina state line and includes mountain peaks and slopes, sheltered coves and valleys, numerous streams and much of the shoreline on three major lakes. Elevations on the district range from 1,500 feet to 4,900 feet.
- Highlights of this Ranger District include the World's Shortest Tunnel and CCC-built picnic arbors, mountain balds and natural waterfalls. There are 26 trails that lead 141 miles, including 50 miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Visitors will also find one shooting range in this area, the Jacobs Creek Range.
Recreation - Outdoor recreation opportunities are plentiful and include camping, picnicking, swimming, hiking, hunting, fishing, scenic driving and horseback riding.
Climate - Tennessee has a temperate climate with short, mild winters. The average annual snowfall for the state is 12 inches. Spring comes in early March bringing flowering trees and shrubs, and warmer weather. Spring temperatures average between 45 and 70 degrees F. Summers full force arrives in the region by mid May, bringing warm weather and higher humidity. The mountains of eastern Tennessee are a great place to escape the hot summer temperatures as the higher elevation cools the air slightly. Cooling fall temperatures bring crisp air and brilliant foliage colors. Mid to late October is a good time to visit the region to experience the fall color change.
The Watauga Ranger District is located in the northeast region of the northern Cherokee National Forest, just east of Elizabethton, Tennessee.