Just 20 minutes south of downtown Cleveland, Bradley County is home to one of Tennessee’s most beautiful state parks. Red Clay Historic State Park is a beautifully preserved swath of land close to the Georgia/Tennessee boarder. There are some great paths and trails winding through the park that me and my dog Rocky visited.

According to the Tennessee State Parks website, “Red Clay State Historic Park encompasses 263-acres of narrow valleys formerly used as cotton and pasture land. The park site was the last seat of Cherokee national government 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 really began, for it was at the Red Clay Council Grounds that the Cherokee learned that they had lost their mountains, streams and valleys forever.”

There are 3 miles of trails through Red Clay Historic State Park, some paved, some hardpacked, and some trail through the woods. The paved trail is a great loop, good for strollers and easy walking and running. It takes visitors from the parking lot and Visitor’s Center past all of the historic buildings around the property. The Connector Trail is less than a mile and it connects the paved section to the wooded trails. The Council of Trees Trail is 1.4 miles through the woods surrounding the park.

Rocky and I enjoyed Red Clay Historic State Park on a warm early spring day. Leashed dogs are allowed in the park, and Rocky really enjoyed the paths and exploring the woods, as well as checking out the shallow creek running along the trail.

Red Clay Historic State Park is also home to the most beautiful blue hole I have ever seen! (Actually, the only one I’ve ever seen.) The park is home to a natural landmark, Blue Hole Spring, which arises from beneath a limestone ledge to form a deep pool that flows into Mill Creek, a tributary of the Conasauga and Coosa River system. According to historians, the spring was used by the Cherokee for their water supply during council meetings. It is such a beautiful clear blue color, and you can check it out from the land surrounding it or the walking bridge right below.

Whether you’re visiting the area or you’ve lived here all your life, be sure to make a visit to Red Clay Historic Park part of your next outdoor day! It’s a great half day adventure to explore the trails and learn the history of the area.

To learn more about Red Clay Historic Park and access maps, visit https://tnstateparks.com/parks/info/red-clay