Red Clay State Park is a historical park. The address is 1140 Red Clay Park, Cleveland , Tennessee 37311. The office phone number is 423-478-0339. Red Clay State Park has a very long history dating back to the 1800s when the Cherokee Indians had possession of the valley where the park is located. With the removal of the Cherokee from the Valley, the Red Clay State Park is where the Trail of Tears officially begins.
The park consists of 263 acres of valleys that was used as pasture and cotton planting land in the past. There are forested ridges that average 200 feet or more above the valley floor. The Red Clay State Park contains a natural landmark known as the Blue Hole Spring, which arises from beneath a limestone ledge to form a deep pool that flows into Mill Creek. The spring is said to have been used by the Cherokee for their water supply during council meetings.
Some special events take place in the park commemorating the past including the annual Pow Wow, held in late October and includes native dance demonstrations as well as Native food vendors. In mid-December, the park hosts the Trail of Lights, giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy the park by a lighted trail during the winter. The Red Clay State Park also holds annual Cherokee Days of Recognition, a festival that takes place in early August each year. This particular festival has been held for 28 years.
Picnic facilities are available for visitors. There is a 100 person picnic area that can be reserved that offers grills, a water fountain and restroom. Individual picnic tables are also available that include a grill. These are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The park also offers a 500 seat amphitheater that is used often during the festivals.
Hiking trails wind through the park, most leading to the Overlook Tower. There are several historic areas to visit. Visitors can learn about the history of the last capitol of the Cherokee Nation with a visit to the James F. Corn Interpretive Center. Several interpretive centers exist throughout the park teaching the visitors about the Cherokee Nation as well as the struggles that everyone endured during that time period.
When visiting Red Clay State Park, it’s important to remember that this area is an area that sees lots of rainfall. The month of April is the wettest time of the year and October is the driest time of the year. If you run out of things to do at Red Clay State Park, there are two other state parks within 20 miles of Red Clay including Harrison Bay State Park and Booker T. Washington State Park. Golf courses are also nearby, using the natural beauty of the Red Clay State Park as a backdrop.
Several nearby campgrounds offer guests a good selection for camping including McDonald KOA Campground, Chattanooga North KOA Campground and Ringgold KOA Campground. Because of the historic stature of the park, camping is restricted in the park. Picnicking and hiking are allowed following the “Leave No Trace” rules. Leave No Trace is a set of rules governing many state parks. It means leave nothing behind but my footprints and take nothing with me except knowledge.
There are hiking trails through the park to allow visitors to view the scenery and reach the overlook tower and other historic sites throughout the park. Most trails are somewhat primitive but accessible by most. Spending the day picnicking with the family and hiking through the trails learning the history of the Cherokee Nation is a great way to spend a day of your vacation. The knowledge that is there to be gained is phenomenal.