Upper Tellico Off-Road Vehicle Area
The Upper Tellico ORV Area is located in the Nantahala National Forest near Murphy, North Carolina in Cherokee County. Murphy is located in the southwestern part of the state where North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia all come together, and at the junction of Hwy 19/74 and Hwy 64. The Upper Tellico ORV Area is famous for some of the best 4x4 trail riding in all of America. Names like Guardrail, Helicopter Pad, Slick Rock and School Bus all conjure up visions of rock piles, steep hills and off camber ascents to challenge offroaders of all experience levels.
The Upper Tellico Area is a high-elevation basin formed by the Unicoi Mountains. The Tellico River and its numerous feeder streams are born amid the high oaks and dissect the 8000 acres of rugged, steep terrain. Elevations range from 2500 feet on the Tellico River at the North Carolina – Tennessee State line to 4979 feet on the Grassy Top Mountain. The forest cover is mostly mixed hardwoods with some pine and a variety of understory species.
The Upper Tellico Area has had many owners, including private timber companies. Between 1950 and 1969 the area was extensively logged. Many roads and skid trails were built to accomplish the logging. As these roads were abandoned, nature restored some of them to nearly the original condition of the land. Other roads were discovered by ORV enthusiasts. Unfortunately, many of these routes had been poorly located – with steep grades and no drainage. They became deeply rutted and eroded as a result of the ORV use.
The Forest Service purchased the Upper Tellico Area in 1980, and began a program of restoration. ORV opportunities will remain available, but will be designated to be compatible with the environment.
With trails from Easy to Nearly Impossible, Tellico truly offers something for everyone. Near stock Jeeps with all-terrains can have a great time on the easy to moderate trails. The harder stuff is usually pretty tough and it's quite common to see huge tires, stretched frames and high horsepower on these trails.
See maps for more information on the rating of each trail.
From Murphy, NC:
From the McDonalds in Murphy on Hwy 64, turn north (left) onto Hiwassee St and go to the first traffic light. Turn left at light onto Tennessee St and leave town, the road becomes Joe Brown Hwy (there is a couple of places along here to buy gas) continue for 2.8 miles until you come to a blinking caution light. Turn right at caution light and continue for approx. 5.5 miles and turn right onto Davis Creek Road. Pavement will end soon and the Forest Service entrance station will be on your left. Trail #1 starts here and continues through the ORV area and turns into River Road at the NC/TN state line.
The Tellico ORV Area is a fee access area. The cost is $5.00 per day/vehicle payable at the Forest Service entrance station. The station is operated on the honor system, so you will need to have correct change (they do accept checks). The money collect stays in the area to help maintain Tellico.
Camping is permitted at Tellico. There are existing campsites on many of the trails, mostly near stream crossings. There is also State Line Campground at the Tenn/NC border. Other campgrounds include Crawfords, a unique commercial campground that caters to the off-roader, has a shop with welder and is only a few miles from the entrance.
District Ranger, USDA Forest Service, Murphy, 704-837-5152
Forest Supervisor, National Forests in North Carolina, 704-257-4200
Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce
Murphy Medical Center
4130 US Highway 64 East
Murphy, North Carolina 28906