Why You Should Join the Tennessee Trail Crew: A Letter from the Editor

The sunset from Chimney Tops in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The sunset from Chimney Tops in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Kevin Stewart Photography
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Greetings and welcome!

We’re excited to announce the launch of the Tennessee Trail Crew—our first-ever statewide collective of writers, explorers, and photographers.

Here at RootsRated, we’re all about helping people find really great places to go outdoors. That’s been our M.O. since the beginning, and we’re sticking to it. When we started the company, our original concept was a destination website that curated the best outdoor experiences, by tapping into the expertise of local outdoor retailers, and their networks of trail runners, hikers, paddlers, climbers, and cyclists.

Today, we still work very closely with our network of retail partners across the country, but we’ve also opened up the floor to various other passionate, non-retail-affiliated individuals who are interested in contributing destination reviews about their favorite places to go outdoors. Why? Well, to put it quite simply: Because we want to expand our geographical reach and talk about places that are worth talking about even if we don’t happen to have a retail partner in the area just yet. So, we created the RootsRated Trail Crew.

What is the RootsRated Trail Crew?

Alum Cave Creek flowing through a thicket of rhododendrons in the Smokies.
Alum Cave Creek flowing through a thicket of rhododendrons in the Smokies. Kevin Stewart Photography

The Trail Crew is essentially our contributor platform—a funnel where passionate content creators can submit stories and destination reviews about their favorite places to go outdoors that will be housed on RootsRated.com and potentially distributed to our network of brand, retail, and destination marketing organization partners.

Who is the Trail Crew?

All smiles at Chattanooga's Stone Fort bouldering field.
All smiles at Chattanooga's Stone Fort bouldering field. Jake Wheeler

Members of the Trail Crew are part of a distinguished band of writers, explorers, and photographers who are passionate about local places and who care deeply about the outdoors. They’ve experienced the same sorts of problems that we have when searching for places to go outdoors, and they want to help improve the outdoor discovery process for everyone by contributing expertly written reviews about their favorite places to go outdoors—and then share these reviews on an ever-growing and trusted platform.

One important distinction we make at RootsRated, however, is that we are NOT just another crowd-sourced melting pot of mixed opinions and sketchy-at-best descriptions. We prefer to use the term “grassroots curated” over “crowd-sourced” because not just anyone can write content for us. Anything and everything submitted to RootsRated is edited by our professional editorial team to ensure that what we’re producing is as accurate and informative as it can be. If it isn’t, and if the content doesn’t meet our professional editorial standards, then it will not be published.

About the Tennessee Trail Crew Chapter

Winter waterfall exploration in Tennessee.
Winter waterfall exploration in Tennessee. Jeff Bartlett

The Tennessee Trail Crew is our first-ever statewide collective of contributors. (It’s actually our first-ever statewide collective of anything, so we’re really excited about it.)

The details are essentially this: We’ve partnered with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee with the goal of building out the most extensive and informative resource that’s ever been created in Tennessee when it comes to online outdoor discovery. We hope to unearth and build-out reviews of every crag, trail, and waterway (accessible to the public, that is) in The Volunteer State.

To date, we have roughly 330 destination reviews spread out across Tennessee’s four biggest cities (Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and a handful of reviews in Memphis), but there’s room for improvement and gaps to be filled in. And we’d love your help!

Why Should You Join?

Snowy and Icy Appalachian Trail near Charlies Bunion in the Smokies.
Snowy and Icy Appalachian Trail near Charlies Bunion in the Smokies. Kevin Stewart Photography

By becoming a Tennessee Trail Crew contributor and working with us, and our team of local experts, you’ll have the chance to help change the way people find outdoor recreation. You’ll also have the opportunity to build your resume and become a published writer for one of the fastest growing online publications in the outdoor space.

It’s free to join, and members who submit content will receive Trail Crew swag every time they submit! To become a member, all you have to do is submit a destination review of an outdoor spot in Tennessee. Once you submit, you’ll receive exclusive membership benefits like gear giveaways, invitations to adventure meetups in TN, and access to future paid job opportunities.

While submissions via the Trail Crew are initially unpaid, we are very open to rewarding high quality, consistent work. But don’t just take it from me. Take it from Matt Guenther, a Chattanooga native, who had this to say:

“By joining, I was given the opportunity to write about my favorite places to get outdoors, meet new people, and was even asked if I wanted a full-time job opportunity!”

How to Join

Take a look at our Tennessee Trail Crew page for more information and for next steps about how to become a member.

Finally, if you've already submitted a destination review in Tennessee via the Trail Crew, shoot us a note, and we'll be more than happy to add you into the group and get you set up.

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