When you need a destination for the weekend that has it all, look no further than Red Clay State Historic Park. This beautiful area on the south end of Bradley County encompasses 263-acres of narrow valleys formerly used as cotton and pasture land. The rich Cherokee history I have learned from visiting Red Clay is amazing. The last time I visited this historic park was during a field trip in elementary school. Although it is a great memory I have from my childhood, I did not fully understand the historical significance it had for the Cherokee people and their eventual removal this great nation from their homelands.

The park site was the last seat of government for the Cherokee Nation before the 1838 enforcement of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 by the U.S. military, which resulted in most of the Cherokee people in the area being forced to emigrate west. Eleven general councils were held between 1832 and 1837. Red Clay is where the Trail of Tears began, for it was at the Red Clay Council Grounds that the Cherokee learned that they had lost their mountains, streams, and valleys forever.

This part of our history offers grim accounts of this time period. I believe as we learn about the past, we can transform how we live in the future. I would strongly encourage you to take some time to learn about our history in this scenic setting with beautiful trails. The park manager, Ranger Erin, would love to see you at the visitor center and a picnic could be a great addition to your day of visiting Red Clay. Don’t miss the film, it is incredible!