By Mike Steely
Norris Dam State Park may be a favorite of Knox County residents as it’s nearby—only a short drive up Norris Freeway—and has lots of interesting things to do. The park offers unique places to visit, camping at two sites, rental cabins, the historic first TVA dam in history, a visitor center, museum, a marina, meeting rooms, planned programs, an old mill and barn, etc.
And, surprise, the park also has lots of hiking and mountain biking trails.
When my wife and I drive up there, and we do so a couple times each year, we take a lunch and picnic near the little office at the dam. We also walk the trail along the Clinch River below the dam, parking at one end or the other, and enjoy seeing the wildlife, plants, fishing families and other visitors. Often we see deer and turkey along the way.
For those of you not originally from our area Norris Dam was the first of the TVA dams in the southeast to create lakes to prevent flooding and provide electricity. Since the federal government project began, which relied on Civilian Conservation Corp workers, the area around the dam has been under state control.
Camp Sam Trail is a great way to explore the CCC Camp. It’s almost a mile long and is a step back to the era of President Roosevelt and the New Deal Projects. The camp stood from 1933 until 1943 and 200 men each year lived there and worked on the dam project.
The Hootin Hollow Trail is just a bit over a mile long and named for the barred owls that can be heard there as you hike in the evening above and along the Gaylor Hollow Fishing Cove.
Tennis Court Trail is less than one-half mile long, the shortest in the park, and goes through the Deluxe Cabin grounds and Village Green Complex.
Harmon Loop is just less than 1/2 mile and is a quick and quiet stroll taken by many local residents.
Tall Timbers Trail is part of the CCC trail system and runs between the dam and Rustic Cabin #10.
Lakeside Loop is about 2.5 miles long, connects to the backside of Lake View Trail and has a pond that’s only present during high lake levels. It features a variety of plants and trees as it crosses in and out of the forest.
Elkins Trail is 2.25 miles long and located at the park’s highest point near the rim of the West Campground. The trail drops down to a cove in the lake and then back up to the rim.
Chuckmore Trail is about the same length as Elkins Trail and ties Andrews Ridge Trail back to Marine Railway. It starts at the top of a ridge and runs almost down to the lake and rises back to one of the highest points in the park before crossing the park entrance.