Located in the Cherokee National Forest in eastern Tennessee, the Citico Creek Wilderness area is a truly wild area. Named after the Cherokee Overhill town, Citico offers 57.4 total miles of trail through the varying landscape of over 16,000 acres. Bordered by the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness, this area is a treasure of the East, linking large landscapes of remote forests, rivers and mountains. Most of the trails have water crossings, one that we love crosses streams ELEVEN times for a total of 22 crossings for the in-and-out trip!
While the area has a history of logging, Forest Service protection has allowed the cove hardwood forests to heal. A great forest fire in 1925 was that catalyst that slowed the pace of logging and turned management towards restoration. You can see the remnants of these histories as you explore any of the thirteen trails Citico offers. Pockets of virgin forest remain in some of the more isolated section of Citico Wilderness. As you explore the beech-maple stand near Falls Branch Falls, or the hemlock grove near Glenn Gap, you can begin to picture what the landscape looked in the time of the town of Citico. The rivers and streams are teaming with life like trout, beneficial insects and especially – salamanders!
With support of partners like ENO and Rock/Creek, Wild South is working to add acreage to the Citico and Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness Areas. The Tennessee Wild Bill adds nearly 20,000 acres of wilderness to these areas in the Cherokee National Forest for us all to use for recreation, fishing, camping, and getting away for a while in the wilds. Permanently protecting these treasured areas leaves a lasting legacy that we can all be proud of, and you can get involved today. Join up with TN Wild and get outfitted for creek hiking at Rock/Creek – and get outside!