About the Forest

Frequently Asked Questions

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[Graphic]:  Forest Service Signing Symbol for Question Mark. Please click on the questions below

  1. What are the rules and regulations for camping?
  2. Are pets allowed?
  3. Are firearms allowed?
  4. May persons possessing handgun cary permits possess their handguns while in the Cherokee National Forest?
  5. Can I reserve a campsite?
  6. How do I get a job with the Forest Service?
  7. Are there any ATV trails?
  8. Where can I get a hunting / fishing license?
  9. Where can I get a map?
  10. Can I cut firewood?
  11. Where can I get seedlings?
  12. Can you own property in a national forest?
  13. Can you have a vacation residence on national forest land?

What are the rules and regulations for camping?

There are 30 developed campgrounds scattered throughout the Cherokee NF where fees are required.  Most campsites are available on first-come, first-served basis.  Because of high demand of campsites "holding" a space for someone else is not permitted.  Campsites must be occupied the first night and once every 24 hours there after.  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 limited to 14 days and the site must be occupied once every 24 hours.

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Are pets allowed?

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.)

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Are firearms allowed for hunting?

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.

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May persons possessing handgun carry permits possess their handguns while in the Cherokee National Forest?

YES - Recent State 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.

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Can I reserve a campsite?

Indian Boundary and McNabb Creek Group Horse Camp are the only campgrounds that you can make a reservation for.  Reservations can be made through Reserve America at 877.444.6777.

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How do I get a job with the Forest Service?

You may view all job vacancies and apply for positions through the following websites:  USAJOBS or the Forest Service National Site.

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Are there any ATV Trails?

Buffalo Mountain is the only ATV trail on the Cherokee National Forest. It is located in Washington County.  The trail is 12.8 miles.

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Where can I get a hunting / fishing license?  What are the rules regarding hunting/fishing?

You can obtain a license and regulation guide at most retail stores.  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 TWRA.

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Where can I get a map?

You can obtain a map at any of our offices or you can download an order form and order via mail or telephone.

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Can I cut firewood?

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.  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.

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Where can I get seedlings?

Contact your local division of the Tennessee Division of Forestry.

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Can you own property in a national forest?

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.

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Can you have a vacation residence on national forest land?

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.

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/cherokee/about-forest