Fort Loudoun State Historic area is located in Vonore, TN, about an hour and a half southwest of the Great Smoky Mountains. Fort Loudoun State Historic Park is 1,200-acres and is one of the earliest British fortifications on the western frontier, built in 1756.
The History of Fort Loudoun
During the French and Indian War (1754-1763) the British Colony of South Carolina felt threatened by French activities in the Mississippi Valley. To counter this threat, the Colony sent the Independent Company of South Carolina to construct and garrison what became Fort Loudoun. This move helped to ally the Overhill Cherokee Nation in the fight against the French and guaranteed the trade would continue between the Cherokee and South Carolina.
In the course of the fort’s four-year existence, relations between South Carolina and the Cherokee Nation broke down. In August 1760, the Cherokee captured Fort Loudoun and its garrison.
After the surrender in 1760, Fort Loudoun was never used again for any military purpose. It is thought the Cherokees destroyed the fort sometime shortly after the English marched away. In 1762, Lt. Henry Timberlake wrote in his memoirs that he “went to Tommotly, taking Fort Loudon (sic) in the way, to examine the ruins”.
Nature reclaimed the site and there was no public recognition of the Fort until 1917. In November of that year, the Colonial Dames of America placed a commemorative marker at the Fort Loudoun site. They hoped there would be interest in preserving the site for future generations. In 1933, the Tennessee General Assembly purchased the site of Fort Loudoun and created the Fort Loudoun Association to manage it. The Fort Loudoun Association ran the site for nearly 45 years until it reverted to Tennessee State Parks in 1977.
Fort Loudoun continues to be managed as a day-use park with a visitor’s center, reconstructed Fort Loudoun (the reconstruction sits on a 17’ deep backfill which was necessary to raise it above the summer pool level of Tellico Lake), picnic area, fishing pier, hiking trails, and boat dock.
Gift Shop & Book Store
Open Daily 8:00am until 4:30pm
The Visitor Center/Museum is a great place to stop before visiting the reconstructed fort. It offers information on the area’s history and artifacts that were excavated prior to the Fort’s reconstruction.
A 15-minute film adds to the visitor’s understanding of the period. It is located between the parking lot and the reconstructed fort.
Fishing & Boating
Fort Loudoun State Historic Area and Sequoyah Birthplace Museum share an island that was created by the damming of the Little Tennessee River. The lake is approximately 15,000 acres in surface area.
BOAT DOCK – There are a number of boat ramps and marinas servicing the Tellico Lake area. A simple docking facility can be found 150 yards west of the visitor center.
FISHING PIER – There are many opportunities for anglers by bank or by boat. Located in the picnic area visitors will find a handicap accessible fishing pier large enough to hold many anglers. Resident and nonresident juveniles under age 13 need no license. There is no special permit required for fishing other than a valid TN Fishing License. Licenses may be purchased from most county clerks, sporting good stores, hardware stores, local gas stations, and TWRA offices.
Kayak & Paddle Board Rentals
Paddles and life jackets are provided. A kayak launch is conveniently located at the boat dock in a no-wake zone making it easy to get in/out of the water.
Where to rent: Visitor’s Center, Fort Loudoun State Park
When: 8 AM to 4:30 PM., rentals are available every day with the exception of garrison weekends and special events.
Price: $20.00 Kayak; $30.00 Tandem Kayak; $20.00 Stand Up Paddle Board; rentals are for three hour minimum, additional hours available for an additional fee.
Cash or Credit Card Payment only.
Must be at least 18 to rent, any age to operate.
There are three hiking trails that range from easy to moderately strenuous.
The trails are the Ridgetop Loop Trail which is approximately 1.5 miles long and provides beautiful views of the mountains and valley; the Meadow Loop Trail which is approximately 2.25 miles long and the Lost Shoe Loop which is approximately .5 miles long.
The trails are for day use only and are open from 8 AM until sunset daily. Bicycles are not allowed on the trails and pets are to be leashed.
Trail maps are available in the visitor’s center.
Located convenient to the visitors center and reconstructed Fort Loudoun.
There are 30 tables, most with grills, scattered along the lakeside and in a wooded area. The tables are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Centrally located in the picnic area, a restroom facility is available which also houses a soft drink machine.
Fort Loudoun State Park has 1 picnic shelter/pavilion that may be reserved for your next event or gathering. The shelter has a maximum capacity of 64 people. The shelter is equipped with 8 picnic tables, a grill, and access to restrooms. This shelter overlooks Tellico Lake.
Full day shelter reservations may be made online with the Tennessee State Parks Online Reservation System or by calling the park during business hours (8 AM until 4:30 PM daily) at 423-420-2331. If you are interested in reserving a shelter for less than a full day, please contact the park office for availability information.
During Garrison weekends watch Fort Loudoun State Historic Area come to life. Learn about life at the fort during the French & Indian War. There will be daily demonstrations of artillery & musketry, infirmary, blacksmithing, woodworking, laundry, leatherworking, and additional trades. All garrison weekends are free except for 18th Century Trade Faire.