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Red Clay State Historic Park

Happy Labor Day! It’s the unofficial end of summer already. I’ve been enjoying the cooler weather we’ve had recently.


When I visited Red Clay State Historic Park at the end of July, it was a typical Tennessee humid summer day. So I was particularly glad to see this long covered porch at the visitor center; it was the perfect place to relax in a rocking chair with a post-hike snack.


This park, about 45 minutes east of Chattanooga, is the site of the last council grounds of the Cherokee from 1832 - 1838 when they were forced west on the Trail of Tears. (1)

A map hung on a wall shows the paths of the Trail of Tears in the Red Clay State Historic Park visitor center.
A map of the Trail of Tears in the visitor center.

Behind the visitor center, there are replicas of a Cherokee farmhouse, sleeping huts, and a replica of a council house. (2)


There is also the Blue Hole Spring; the blue color is natural! (3)

Clear water with a blue center is surrounded by trees on an embankment in Red Clay State Historic Park

If you walk up a small hill, you can see the Eternal Flame of the Cherokee Nation. It’s a memorial to those who perished on the Trail of Tears, and it memorializes the reunification of the Eastern and Western Cherokee nations here at the park in 1984. (4)

A small stone structure with a flame inside and a plaque on top in Red Clay State Historic Park

I was really interested to see signs in a second language: Cherokee! I don’t think I had ever seen Cherokee written down before.

A brown sign with red lettering says "Women" in English and in Cherokee in Red Clay State Historic Park
The sign on the women's bathroom door is in Cherokee and English.

I hiked the Council of Trees Trail, a 1.7 mile loop. There’s a stone overlook at the halfway point of the trail. (5)

An overlook made of stones with steps sits in the forest at Red Clay State Historic Park

Don’t leave the park without seeing the museum in the visitor center that has artifacts from the area.


 
  1. https://tnstateparks.com/assets/pdf/additional-content/park-brochures/red-clay_brochure.pdf ; visitor center interpretive panels

  2. Park interpretive panels

  3. Discussion with park staff during July 2023 visit.

  4. Plaque above the Eternal Flame Monument.

  5. https://tnstateparks.com/assets/pdf/additional-content/park-maps/Red_Clay_web.png

September 4, 2023

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