Sycamore Shoals State Park in Elizabethton, TN is a great place to stop and take a walk if you’re in the area. It’s right next to the hospital, and right in town, but it doesn’t feel that way once you start walking along the Watauga River.
The 70-acre park was designated in 1975 as a National Historic Landmark because a “series of events critical to the establishment of the states of Tennessee and Kentucky took place here” (Wikipedia). If you want to explore the history of the area, there is a museum in the Visitor’s Center, and several other sections of the park that are specifically dedicated to this aspect.
When we went, we were mainly interested in spending some time in nature and being near the water.
The one-mile loop known as Patriot’s Path leads you along the river, past a butterfly garden, and then back around to the beginning. The gravel path is well maintained, so fairly easy, but does have some slight hills and uneven ground.
(see my Guide to How I Rate Trails if you want more information on this.).
I enjoyed the way the sun was shining through the trees, casting different shapes and shadows onto the ground below.
Along the way, there are small paths off to the side that allow you to get closer to the river…or even in it if you choose to.
The day we went there was a mama duck and her duckling swimming around in the river near us. We spent a good twenty minutes just watching them ride the current one way and then swim back to grab another bite or two of the plants that were in the water.
There’s a butterfly garden that is filled with flowers. It has a small path around it so you can get an up-close view of the butterflies and bees hopping from flower to flower.
Benches have also been placed along the path so that you can take a break if you need to, or just sit and enjoy the peaceful sounds of nature.
The bench at the end of the loop, or I guess the middle since it’s right where you turn around to go back, was my favorite. It overlooks the water, was shaded, and you had a nice view in both directions. The water was extremely clear that day and the colors were amazing.
Sycamore Shoals State Park isn’t necessarily a place that I would make a special trip from far away to see, but if you happen to be in the area, it would most certainly make a nice addition to your time in Elizabethton, TN.
If you’d like to plan an entire trip to this area, check out these blog posts about nearby places: