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Tennessee Overhill Region

Town or Rural Area
Chilhowee Overlook in Tennessee Overhill – Jim Caldwell

The Tennessee Overhill was named for the Cherokee settlements that rested on the western slopes of the Appalachian Mountains—overhill from the Lower Cherokee settlements. This area has long been a destination for travelers, traders, and explorers. Today's visitors will find a place rich in cultural heritage and scenic beauty—a place of forests, mountains, lakes, rivers, small towns, and unique attractions.

The Tennessee Overhill is located in the southern half of the Cherokee National Forest and includes three counties (McMinn, Monroe and Polk) and many small towns. The location of the Tennessee Overhill is unique in that visitors will find a large variety of activities ranging from whitewater rafting, tubing, hiking, fishing, gliding in a gliderplane, and many choices for scenic drives.

Even though the Tennessee Overhill is known for its outdoor recreation it is also known for its historic sites and museums. These places tell of Cherokee Indians, fur traders, settlers, loggers, miners and railroaders, textile workers, farmers and sharecroppers; the people of the area who were shaped by the land.


The early settlers of the Tennessee Overhill can be traced through the many historical sites and museums in the area. The area history is so rich and diverse that the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association has produced several brochures that detail the history. The "Furs to Factories" brochure guides visitors through the history of the Industrial Revolution, the "Unicoi Turnpike Trail" brochure tells of the history of this ancient trade/war path, which predates written history. Also available is the history of the railroad as told in the L&N Depot Museumin Etowah. Other historical drivers for the area were copper mining, textile mills and farming.

How to Get There

The Tennessee Overhill is easily accessible from many exit points off I-75 in southeast Tennessee between Knoxville and Chattanooga. The exits are Sweetwater, Niota, Athens, Riceville, Calhoun, Charleston and Cleveland,TN.

Nearby Places