The United States Congress designated the Unaka Mountain Wilderness (map
) in 1986 and it now has a total of 4,472 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Tennessee
and is managed by the Forest Service.
This Wilderness spills down the western slopes of the Unaka Mountains, which form part of the boundary between Tennessee and North Carolina. Birch, beech, maple, oak, cherry, poplar, hickory, pine, hemlock, spruce, and fir forest the slopes. Some of the hemlocks are almost 100 years old, but loggers worked their way through most of the original forest prior to designation. The deciduous trees paint a glorious fall tapestry best appreciated from high elevations such as the 4,800-foot Unaka Mountain Overlook. More than 10 waterfalls tumble down 20-foot-plus drops along seven major streams, with Red Fork Falls, the highest, shooting water over a 60-foot drop in the eastern portion of the area. The Limestone Cove Trail, about 2.8 miles total, climbs steeply then levels off slightly along an old logging road to the top of Stamping Ground Ridge. It meets the Unaka Mountain Road, where you can easily ascend to the overlook. The Rattlesnake Ridge Trail descends for three miles across the Wilderness from near the overlook. The Red Fork Falls Trail dead-ends after less than a quarter mile at the falls near the eastern boundary. Foot and horse access are offered.