The open road calls to each of us. It’s the freedom to head out on the highway with a destination in mind or no destination at all–just a drive to discover the hidden treasures of America. One of those treasures are the Barn Quilt Trails. Barn quilts tell the story of each place that hangs a painted quilt on their barn, a business, or churches. Though barn quilts are found all over the United States, telling their own stories, here in Tennessee they bring to life the Appalachian heritage. The art of quilting is disappearing from society, but through driving adventures like the Tennessee Barn Quilt Trails, it’s kept alive for future generations. Come along with Carolina Ocoee white water rafting as we follow the trail from Ducktown, Tennessee where the swift waters of the Ocoee River flows.
History of the Barn Quilt Trails
Polk County TN Barn Quilt Trails
Polk County, Tennessee is home to one of the many Barn Quilt Trails in the United States. Barn Quilt Trails started in Adams County, Ohio as a way for Donna Sue Groves to honor her mother, Maxine, and her Appalachian heritage. Since then, the tradition has spread to 49 states, including Tennessee. These paintings of quilt patterns reflect the story of each place they hang. Soon barn quilts spread to other states, becoming driving tours, drawing in tourists and bringing the Appalachian way of life to the forefront. Barn quilts are painted to reflect quilting blocks your grandmother or great-grandmother sewed; each one unique to the person cutting, sewing, and quilting the patterns. They tell a story about the life and times of each quilter and, now, of those whose quilt pattern hangs on their building.
Barn quilt trails give you a chance to move at a slower pace and discover historic sites, small cafes, produce stands, and other unique places that pepper rural Tennessee on their backroads and through small towns. Each trail consists of one county within driving distance between barn quilts.
Barn Quilt Trails of Eastern Tennessee
Begin your journey in Polk County at McCaysville/Copperhill with Christmas is Here. Artists Rip and Tammi bring you the extraordinary in their Christmas themed shop that’s opened year round. Their barn quilt pattern is Flying Geese. Next up visit Polk County News covering Benton, Ducktown, and Copperhill where you’ll find the West Virginia pattern. Visit them in person at the courthouse in Benton, Tennessee. From there head out on Columbus Road and visit The Shops at Morgan Lane where you’ll find the Open Box pattern.
Bradley County is right next to Polk County where you’ll find several more barn quilts. 1st Street Park has the Bachelor’s Dream quilt block. Hyderhangout in Cleveland you can see the Road to Tennessee pattern. The Farm at Walker Valley displays the Friendship Star. Foster’s Trail and Alpaca Farm has the Hill and Hollow pattern. Bradley County has many places to see Barn Quilts. Don’t miss them!
Start your Barn Quilt journey at the Cherohala Skyway Visitors Center where they display the Crossed Paws pattern. Step inside and pick up a map of the Cherohala Skyway to explore this scenic highway as you follow the Barn Quilt Trail. Located at the Greasy Branch Farm is the Grandma’s Sampler pattern. Find the Indian Paintbrush pattern at the Farmhouse Inn. Monroe County has many more Barn Quilts, so arm yourself with a map and head out for an unusual adventure.
Tennessee has some beautiful countryside to explore, so a drive to see the barn quilts will give you so much more for your trip. Make it enjoyable and remember to relax and have a peaceful good time. And, if you need to cool off from the summer heat, there is no better place than a Carolina Ocoee white water rafting trip. Book now for a refreshingly wild time on the Ocoee River.