Spring Hikes planned at Tennessee state parks

Published 9:29 am Monday, March 16, 2020

Fresh air and a new season await Tennesseans on Saturday, March 21, as Tennessee State Parks host the annual Spring Hikes at all 56 state parks. Hikes of all levels of difficulty will be available, each guided by a park ranger.

“This is a great time to get together with family and friends, make new friends and enjoy nature with our Spring Hikes,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said. “We have a beautiful state, and a hike at a state park is a great way to take it in. It’s an opportunity to learn about our parks and learn about nature. These hikes continue to be very popular and we look forward to another exciting day at locations across our state.”

The Spring Hikes are part of a series of Signature Hikes at the parks. Tennessee State Parks saw 3,607 participants at its First Day Hikes on January 1. The Spring Hikes offer a chance to study aspects of individual parks, discuss wildlife and admire the scenery, especially the wildflowers, as the seasons change.

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A wide variety of hikes are available. Hikers can enjoy the views of Chickamauga Lake at Harrison Bay State Park; travel the half-mile boardwalk over Dismal Swamp or climb the 70-foot observation tower at Big Hill Pond State Park; see three large waterfalls at Burgess Falls State Park; learn about the history of a thriving river port at Port Royal State Park; view the cedar glades at Cedars of Lebanon State Park; admire the flowers at Dog Cove at Fall Creek Falls State Park; see old home sites at Johnsonville State Historic Park; enjoy scenic points of interest including the Chucalissa Indian Village at T.O. Fuller State Park; see spring wildflowers at Norris Dam State Park; watch waterfowl at Reelfoot Lake State Park; enjoy birdwatching and other wildlife at Seven Islands State Birding Park; and much more.

In Northeast Tennessee, a two-mile hike is planned along the Tom Gray and Riverside Trails at Roan Mountain State Park. Hikers will enjoy early tree and flower blooms, the awakening of spring wildlife, and beautiful woodland views of the Doe River. This hike is easy in difficulty, but is 2 miles and is on natural-terrain surface.

At Sycamore Shoals State Park, retired forester Martin Miller will lead a special guided tour of the park’s arboretum. Hikers will discover a variety of native trees and fun facts about their unique qualities, historical uses, and contributions to local culture. Hikers are asked to meet in the Visitor Center lobby, tour will begin at 10 a.m. Please, no pets.

At Rocky Fork State Park, Tennessee’s newest state park, hikers will meet at the parking area at 9:30 a.m. and spend the day on the trail for a 6-mile hike in the Blue Ridge physiographic province.

Rocky Fork is located at Flag Pond.

Hikers are urged to have sturdy footwear and bring water and snacks. Some may want to bring hiking sticks.

Tennessee State Parks host a series of Signature Hikes each year. They include First Day Hikes, Spring Hikes, National Trails Day Hikes in June, National Public Lands Day Hikes in September, and After-Thanksgiving Hikes the day after Thanksgiving.