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Obed Wild and Scenic River

Sign for downtown Wartburg Tennessee

After a short drive from Oak Ridge and ‘Seeing’ the Manhattan project National Historic Park, we arrived in Wartburg. (Yes, Wartburg). My wife was to get a fuzzy picture of the town sign. Very elaborate for a town called Wartburg. We were here to visit the Obed Wild and Scenic River Visitor center here in town.

The Visitor Center wasn’t at all busy and the Park Ranger was jumping at the chance to help us. It was a smaller Visitor Center, and while we loved the fountain, nice pictures on the wall, however there wasn’t as much educational material about the wildlife of the park.

Sign on visitor center for Obed Wild and Scenic River

I will say that the video, which is played on a video in the side of the room, was very well done. You get to sit on some rustic benches. The visuals are awesome, and it gets you geared up to go exploring. Apparently, it won a national award from The National Association of Interpretation (NAI) in 2014. The ‘surround sound’ they installed kept me looking over my shoulder for a bird of rushing wind from the video.

It was late in the day, and the kids were tired from a full day of driving and seeing other sites, so we did not venture terrible deep or wide across the area. I would have like to have hiked to the waterfall at Lilly bluff, but we just took it easy. We started with a brief walked down to the river at the first stop before we crossed the Lilly bridge over clear creek on ridge road. This is the only easy access point down to the river. The other side of the bridge is too sharp of a drop off to get down to the river easily.

The river was low and slow. The kids (and yes me) had fun scrambling across the rocks over to the river. After a few videos and with the realization that a hike up a 200 ft elevation to the waterfall was not going to happen, we drove up to Lilly Bluff overlook parking lot.

After crossing the bridge, there is another small parking lot where the trail head is for those hikes.

As you continue up on Ridge Road you will eventually see the sign for the Lilly Bluff overlook. You will see some overflow parking near the sign. Since we were there on a weekday, it was not very busy at all, so we easily found a parking spot at the main parking which is closer to the trail head.

From here you can take a home down four different trails, one of which goes in a different direction (boulder), while the other three start together past the restrooms. After a short 0.25-mile hike down the main trail the other trails began to peel off, but we kept on the overlook trail. This provides a grand view of the Scenic River!

Information Kiosk at Obed

What a view from Lilly Overlook in Obed Wild and Scenic River

View of clear creek and valley from Lilly Bluff overlook Obed Wild and scenic river
Lilly Bluff overlook at Obed Wild and scenic river

There is a walkway that provides viewing at multiple angles around the overlook. I can see why they created this, for the safety of the visitors and to keep the area in a more natural state. My daughter was working on the junior ranger book and most of the key questions can be answered at or on the way to this overlook. The walkway reminded me of Congaree National Park a little bit.

This unit is not as big as some National Parks, but it has some amazing qualities. I would have loved to have learned of this area 20 years so I could have taken in some of the Rock Climbing and kayaking the area has to offer.

Stamp for Obed Scenic River and Recreation Area Wartburg TN

Unit: Obed Wild and Scenic River

Path to 428+: 69

Region: Southeast

Month/Year: June 2023

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