Summer is in full swing at Tennessee State Parks, with plenty to do and see! With a Tennessee State Park within an hour’s drive of just about anywhere in the state, families seeking unique recreation opportunities, high-quality accommodations and an exceptional value can look a bit closer to home. Finding a state park in your own backyard is easy to do and you don’t have to spend a lot of gas money to get there!
Tennessee State Parks offer a variety of activities and events throughout the summer. From great hikes to a one-of-a-kind butterfly celebration – there’s something designed for the entire family!
Listed below are just a few of these great “One Tank” Trips.
South Cumberland State Park
South Cumberland State Park will host a Savage Falls Hike Friday, July 30th, at 1:30pm (CDT). Meet Seasonal Ranger Aaron at the Savage Gulf Ranger Station for this moderate four-mile hike to see beautiful Savage Falls. Bring water, a snack, wear sturdy shoes and bring a bathing suit if you want to take a swim in the pool below the falls! Don’t forget your camera!
Located near Monteagle, South Cumberland is one of the newer Tennessee State Parks. Almost the entire park lies atop the Cumberland Plateau and, unlike most state parks, South Cumberland is made up of ten different areas located in four different counties. The Visitor Center is located between Monteagle and Tracy City on Highway 41. For more information about the park, please call 931-924-2980 or visit www.tnstateparks.com/SouthCumberland.
Fall Creek Falls State Park
Fall Creek Falls State Park’s Summer Concert Series offers live music every weekend through September 5th. Featuring an array of artists, including country, bluegrass and folk, all concerts begin at 7:30pm (CDT) and will run approximately two hours. Admission is $3.00 and children six and under are admitted free. The roster of upcoming featured artists includes:
- Saturday, July 31st: Catoosa Canyon
- Saturday, August 7th: Just Lookin’ Around
- Saturday, August 14th: Fredonia Bluegrass
Fall Creek Falls State Park and the Cumberland Astronomical Society will host an Astronomy Weekend, Friday and Saturday, August 6th-7th. Visit Fall Creek Falls’ Inn for discussions regarding constellations, lunar lore and our brightest star – the sun! Telescope viewing will be offered, weather permitting. For more information e-mail Lloyd Watkins at or visit www.CumberlandAstronomicalSociety.org. Reservations for lodging at Fall Creek Falls Inn can be made by calling 1-800-250-8610!
Fall Creek Falls’ Summer Season also is in full swing – offering an array of activities! Softball, nature hikes, canoe floats, campfires, horseback riding and bluegrass music are just some of the unique opportunities that mark Fall Creek Fall’s summer programming. Interpretative and recreational events are scheduled seven days a week. For a complete schedule of events, please call 423-881-5298.
Fall Creek Falls State Park is a 25,500-acre paradise on the western Cumberland Plateau. Located just 40 miles south of Cookeville and 65 miles north of Chattanooga, the park offers incredible scenic beauty and recreational opportunities. Beautiful waterfalls, tremendous canyons and dense forests are protected within the park’s boundaries. Visitors will find a 250-site campground, a hotel and conference center and 30 cabins among the park’s many amenities. For more information about the park, visit www.tnstateparks.com/FallCreekFalls.
Long Hunter State Park
Long Hunter State Park will hold a number of events and activities in the coming weeks. For additional information about these upcoming opportunities, please call 615-885-2422.
- Double Feature Movie Night: Friday, July 30th at 7:00pm. – The park will be showing two excellent nature-related films that evening: the documentary “Alone in the Wilderness,” and the critically acclaimed “Oceans Deep” from the Planet Earth series. Feel free to bring your own snacks and drink.
- Volunteer Clean-Up Day: Saturday, July 31st at 9:00am. – Make plans now to join Long Hunter State Park – helping to clean up the Volunteer Trail. Bring water and a picnic lunch! Meet at the Volunteer Trail trailhead.
Stay tuned next week for information about The Nature Circle’s new program schedule, slated to kick off August 9th!
Long Hunter State Park is situated along the shore of J. Percy Priest Lake. It consists of four units: Couchville, Baker’s Grove, Bryant Grove and Sellars Farm. Picnicking, swimming, hiking, backpacking, boating, fishing, nature photography and wildlife observation are among the activities available to park visitors. Planned activities include interpretive and recreation programs for the general public and environmental education programs for schools and other interested groups. For more information about Long Hunter State Park, please visit www.tnstateparks.com/LongHunter or call 615-885-2422.
Burgess Falls State Park
Burgess Falls State Park and Natural Area in Sparta will host the 6th Annual Butterfly Garden Celebration from 9:00am to 3:00pm on Saturday, August 14th. A variety of educational programs will be offered in the award-winning Native Butterfly Garden and surrounding park for this event. Scheduled programs will include:
- A Walk in the Woods: 9:00am. – State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath will take participants on an easy hike through the forest, talking about trees and telling their stories. Participants will meet at the River Trail/Service Road Loop trailhead.
- Goodness Snakes Alive: 10:00am. – The park’s cold-blooded residents will be discussed at the park amphitheater.
- Dragonflies and Damselflies: 11:00am. – Join Richard Connors for an easy walk, learning how to identify these unique insects. This program will begin at the park amphitheater, and participants are encouraged to bring binoculars.
- Landscaping with Native Plants: 11:00am. – Meet at the amphitheater to learn how to landscape with native plants and attract butterflies and other wildlife to your own yard.
- Butterfly Identification Walk: Noon and 2:00pm. – Middle Tennessee Naturalist John Froeschauer will lead an informal butterfly identification “walk and talk,” beginning in the open garden and continuing into the nearby woodland habitat. His talk will focus on native butterfly food and nectar plants. Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars. The program will be held at noon, with a repeat presentation at 2:00pm.
- Creek Studies: Noon – Participants will learn to measure a stream’s health by observing the animals that live in it. They will meet at the picnic pavilion and should wear wading shoes.
- Hike to the Big Falls Overlook: 2:00pm. – Participants will join the park’s Ranger staff for an hour-long hike from the picnic shelter to the main falls overlook. They should wear sturdy shoes and bring water. Meet at the amphitheater.
Burgess Falls is a 350-acre park, which lies on the rugged Eastern Highland Rim in Putnam and White counties. It is noted for its sheer bluffs, narrow ridges, waterfalls and diverse forests. The Burgess Falls Native Butterfly Garden was created by park staff, the Putnam County Master Gardeners, countless volunteers and the Iris Fund group. For more information about the Butterfly Garden Celebration at Burgess Falls State Park and Natural Area, please call 931-432-5312.
Tennessee’s 53 state parks and 80 natural areas offer diverse natural, recreational and cultural experiences for individuals, families, or business and professional groups. State park features range from pristine natural areas to 18-hole championship golf courses. For a free brochure about Tennessee State Parks, call toll free 1-888-867-2757. For additional information, visit our Web site at www.tnstateparks.com.