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Ocoee Ranger District, Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee – Volunteer Vacations 2022

September 18 - September 24

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The John Muir National Recreation Trail is a 16 mile trail along the north bank of the Hiwassee River, a large beautiful river popular with rafters, kayakers, and canoeists as well as fly fishermen as this exciting river plunges out of the Hiwassee Gorge. The trail extends from the TN/NC state line to Reliance, TN. This trail is very popular with day hikers, who can enter and exit the trail at several sites. Most of the trail is also concurrent with the Benton MacKaye Trail, a 288 hiking and backpacking trail from Springer Mountain (start of the AT) to the NE end of the Smokies. The BMT section is regularly maintained by the Benton MacKaye Trail Association, but the treadway of the section upstream from the BMT from Coker Creek is in fairly bad shape. In particular, there is a mile long stretch about half way between Coker Creek and TN 68 which is very rocky and in much need of tread reconstruction. Volunteers will work on repairing the treadway on this section.

AHS acknowledges with gratitude that this project takes place on the traditional lands of the ᏣᎳᎫᏪᏘᏱ Tsalaguwetiyi (Cherokee, East) and S’atsoyaha (Yuchi) peoples past and present. We honor the land itself, the Indigenous communities who have stewarded this land for generations, and those who continue to steward these lands today. AHS invites all volunteers to join us in our commitment to support and amplify the work of Indigenous communities as they work to dismantle the systems of oppression that these communities continue to face today.


Forest Service


Primitive Tent Sites


This is a backpacking trip. Volunteers will need to carry their personal gear and a portion of the food/tools/cooking gear to base camp, about 2 miles in.

Project Rating


Minimum Volunteer Age


Maximum Group Size


Area and Attractions

The Hiwassee River Gorge is an exceptional Tennessee State Scenic River. Further downstream from where we will be working is a premier area for rafting, kayaking, and canoeing and fly fishermen are found everywhere. Not too far away also is Copperhill TN and a very interesting copper mining museum. Also close by is the Ocoee River Gorge where the 1996 Olympics were held for kayaking, highlighted at the Ocoee Whitewater Center. The Ocoee River is the most popular rafting and kayaking river in the USA. Numerous great hiking and mountain biking trails are also in the area. There is also a tourist train ride available in the Hiwassee Gorge with excursions from Etowah to Farner, and McCaysville, and on to Blue Ridge GA on a separate train (Hiwassee River Rail Adventure, Blue Ridge Scenic Railway).

Accommodations Description

We will be camping along the John Muir Trail close to our worksite. This is a backpacking trip. Volunteers will need to carry their personal gear and a portion of the food/tools/cooking gear to base camp. It is about a 2 mile fairly level hike on a smooth trail. The trail is close to the river for easy washing off. Water is available from several small streams coming down to the river, but must be sterilized. There are no sanitary facilities so cat holes will be necessary. There are no showers available during the week.


Knoxville McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, TN is the closest airport. Airport pick up and drop off is available for volunteers and will be arranged upon confirmation of the trip.


Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center
229 Cherohala Skyway, Tellico Plains, TN 37385 United States + Google Map