Sequatchie Valley Scenic Byway
- DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2021)
- Intrinsic QualitiesScenic
- Length70 miles
The Sequatchie Valley Scenic Byway highlights one of Tennessee's most dramatic landscapes: rocky bluffs overlooking a narrow valley that stretches more than 70 miles from the Tennessee River in South Pittsburg, Tenn., to the Head of the Sequatchie River at Cumberland Trail State Park. The valley’s rich history includes Native American settlements, Civil War action, and railroad and coal mining industrial booms. Visit to enjoy shopping and dining in historic downtowns, farmers’ markets and festivals, as well as road cycling, paddling on the Sequatchie River, paragliding and hang gliding.
Story of the Byway
The Sequatchie Valley Scenic Byway highlights one of Tennessee's most dramatic landscapes: rocky bluffs overlooking a narrow valley that stretches more than 70 miles from the Tennessee River in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, to the Head of the Sequatchie River at Cumberland Trail State Park.
The valley’s rich history includes Native American settlements, Civil War action, and railroad and coal mining industrial booms. European settlers first began moving into the valley in the 18th century and were not welcomed by the Native Americans who already occupied the valley. After years of fighting, the Cherokee finally ceded the area to the United States government as part of the Third Treaty of Tellico in 1805. Three decades later, in 1838, all Cherokee people were forcibly removed from the region in a mass exodus in what is known as the Trail of Tears. The Civil War brought more disruption to the Sequatchie Valley, especially since Sequatchie County voted to secede from the Union while the other two counties that make up Sequatchie Valley (Marion County to its south, and Bledsoe County to its north) opted to remain in the Union. In October of 1863, Confederate Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler led a cavalry raid against a Union supply train moving along the Sequatchie River on their way to relieve besieged Federal troops in Chattanooga. Wheeler burned an estimated 1,000 wagons and captured livestock in the battle known as Wheeler’s Raid. In the early 1900’s, Sequatchie Valley enjoyed a coal mining boom as miners worked the west side of the valley (the Cumberland Plateau) to provide fuel for the iron and steel foundries of nearby Chattanooga. The coal boom ended with the Great Depression, and agriculture once again became the chief industry in the valley, a place it still holds today.
Today, the Sequatchie Valley is the perfect place to explore Tennessee’s authentic landscape. Visit to enjoy shopping and dining in historic downtowns, regional farmers’ markets and annual music festivals. Outdoor adventurers can plan road cycling routes alongside rolling farmland, family-friendly paddling on the Sequatchie River Blueway, and paragliding and hang gliding high above the valley floor.
The Sequatchie Valley Scenic Byway runs through Marion, Sequatchie, Bledsoe, and Cumberland Counties, connecting one of the most picturesque and undisturbed regions of the United States. Hemmed in by Walden’s Ridge to the east and the Cumberland Plateau to the west, the Sequatchie Valley still bears the appearance of a highly productive agrarian landscape. Rich in history and offering many opportunities for outdoor recreation, agritourism, and regional folk culture, the Sequatchie Valley Scenic Byway is poised to become one of Tennessee’s most desirable destinations.
The Sequatchie Valley holds one of Tennessee’s most dramatic landscapes, its geographic and geological characteristics shaping its history and culture. The source of the Sequatchie River is near the Bledsoe/Cumberland County line at Grassy Cove, a National Historic Landmark. The Valley offers many enticing resources, though the scenic views are the top reason to travel the byway. The byway’s side roads offer opportunities for outdoor recreation on trails and the Sequatchie River, and the Valley tells the story of the mining history that was prevalent in the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries and shaped the historic built environment in the Sequatchie Valley. Further, the byway offers opportunities to experience folk culture with festivals, handmade crafts, farm-stands, and local restaurants with fresh-baked goods.
The Sequatchie Valley Scenic Byway is a narrow valley that stretches more than 70 miles from the Tennessee River in South Pittsburg, Tenn., to the Head of the Sequatchie River at Cumberland Trail State Park. Historic small communities dot the valley, including South Pittsburg at the southern end, Dunlap in the middle, and Pikeville to the north.
Points of Interest
Flying Camp Paragliding - Dunlap
Fly in the sky with Flying Camp Paragliding. Visitors can enjoy profession paragliding Tandem Flights & instructional courses.
National Cornbread Festival - South Pittsburg
The National Cornbread Festival is a weekend-long celebration of cornbread and many cornbread related activities for adults and kids.
Cookie Jar Cafe - Dunlap
Enjoy hearty Southern cooking, including homemade cakes and pies in a quaint cae on a working dairy farm.
Children's Holocaust Memorial, Whitwall Middle School
Memorial made from 11 million paperclips. Gated access
Oren Wooden's Apple House, Pikeville
Pie shop, cafe, and produce.
Head of Sesquatchie-Cumberland Trail State Park
Area of the headwaters of the Sesquatchie River, known for its serentiy and beauty.
Coke Ovens Museum, Dunlap
An 88-acre park with remains of268 beehive coke ovens used to convert mountain coal into industrial coke, used to smelt iron ore.
Top of the Rock Restaurant and Brwery
Locally-owned. Great beers, food, and views.
NIckel Row Antique Mall, Pikeville
Antique mall with 30 vendors
Lodge Hometown Factory, South Pittsburg
Manufacturing heirloom-quality cast iron cookware.
Adventures on the Sequatchie Valley Byway
Begin your day in Pikeville, an outdoor lover's dream. Within Pikeville, there are many opportunities for hiking at Cumberland Trail State Park and Fall Creek Falls State Park. Take the opportunity to uncover more of the hidden gems by going geocaching in this area. If history and shopping is more your style, take the opportunity to wander through the South Main Street Historic District.
Next is Dunlap and Whitwell. These two neighboring towns have many opportunities for history lovers to visit museums that uncover the coal mining history of this area. Adventure lovers will find plenty to do here such as flying high in the sky. These towns are great places to stop for lunch to enjoy some authentic southern food. Spend the afternoon exploring an orchard or vineyard.
As you drive through Sequatchie, Jasper, and Kimball, take advantage of all the options for some outdoor fun, whether it be rock climbing, skydiving, hiking, or something else entirely. There is no end to the adventure.
Finish your day in South Pittsburg. Stop by the Lodge Factory Store and Foundry for a taste of the region’s history. There are many cozy places to eat here-the Italian food is particularly good. At night, try to catch a performance at the Princess Theatre.
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