Frequently Asked Questions
There are 30 developed campgrounds scattered throughout the Cherokee NF where fees are required. A few of the campgrounds have sites that are available on first-come, first-served basis. Because of high demand of campsites "holding" a space for someone else is not permitted. Developed campsites must be occupied the first night and once every 24 hours and is limited to 14 days. For those who wish to get away from it all, dispersed camping outside of developed campgrounds is permitted at no charge -- permits are not required. Camping in this manner is also limited to 14 days and the site must be occupied once every 24 hours.
All pets must be confined to a leash, cage, or in a vehicle. Dogs must remain on a leash not to exceed six feet, unless being used for hunting during a designated hunting season where the use of dogs are legal. Pets are allowed in all areas except where posted otherwise (swimming areas, beaches, etc.)
YES - Recent legislative changes provide that individuals who possess a carry permit may possess their handgun while on Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) wildlife management areas, public hunting areas, or refuges open to hunter access. Because the Cherokee National Forest is managed under an agreement with the Forest Service, USDA and TWRA as a Wildlife Management Area this legislative change applies to the Cherokee National Forest. The handgun may not be used for taking game unless specifically permitted by TWRA regulation. For more information regarding this legislative change and related TWRA information please contact the TWRA at 1-800-332-0900 or visit their web site Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
While possessing a firearm for the purpose of hunting you must have a valid state hunting license in your possession for the species you intend to hunt. The firearm possessed must be of the type legal for hunting the species that are in season. Firearms must be unloaded during transport. While camping firearms must remain in camp except during legal hunting hours.
Reservations can be made for numerous campsites on the Cherokee National Forest online at Recreation.gov.
Buffalo Mountain is the only ATV trail on the Cherokee National Forest. It is located in Washington County. The trail is 12.8 miles.
You can obtain a license and regulation guide at most sporting goods stores and online at https://www.tn.gov/twra/license-sales.html. The Cherokee NF is managed cooperatively by the Forest Service and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) as a Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Hunting and Fishing seasons, regulations and bag limits are set by TWRA. For complete information contact https://www.tn.gov/twra.html.
Permits are required for cutting personal use firewood. Firewood is offered to the public as it becomes available. Firewood permits are available and administered at Ranger District offices. Cutting and gathering small amounts of down and dead material for campfire use while in the Forest does not require a permit as long as the wood is used on site.
Contact your local division of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture - Tree Seedlings.
Contact a local private arborist, tree service, or reach out to the Tennessee Division of Forestry https://www.tn.gov/agriculture/forests/landowners/services.html
There are “inholdings” of private land within the proclamation boundary of Cherokee National Forest. Some inholdings may border or are adjacent to national forest land but they are not owned or managed by the federal government. Inholdings are not part of national forest system land. Any rules for private property owners who are neighbors to the Cherokee National Forest would be found in items such as the private landowners Land Deed or Title documents, Local County or Municipal Zoning Ordinances, and any other items relating to the particular property.
The Cherokee National Forest manages 71 recreation residences.��“Recreation Residence” is a privately owned, noncommercial residence (improvement) located on certain designated National Forest System lands and authorized by a recreation residence term special use permit administered by the Forest Service. Regulation states that NO new residences will be allowed, outside of what are already under permit. A recreation residence is maintained by the permit holder for personal, family, and guest use and enjoyment. A recreation residence may not serve as a permanent residence. The permit holder owns the improvements but not the land. The permittee pays an annual rental fee based upon fair market value of the land, not including improvements. Permit holders are required to keep their residence maintained and be in compliance with the terms and conditions of their permit. Any changes or additions to the residence must be authorized by the Forest Service. Recreation Residences have a 20 year permit and upon expiration (if they are compliant with the terms of their permit), they can be renewed.
Alerts & Warnings
- FIRE RESTRICTIONS ON THE FOREST
- Road to Beauty Spot Scenic Overlook (aka Indian Grave Gap) closed
- Watauga Ranger District Office closed for renovations
- Closure Map for Bald River Falls Bridge replacement project
- Closures for Black Bear Fire are now open
- Tweed Springs Fire Roads and Trails Reopen
- Temporary road closure of Flatwoods Road