Even though some schools are back in session – the weekends are still the perfect time to take the kids to a Tennessee State Park in your area, with plenty of outdoor adventures for the whole family! With Labor Day fast approaching, we wanted to share several fun activities and events at Tennessee State Parks during the holiday weekend and in the coming weeks! We hope you can join us!
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 bluegrass – there’s something designed for the entire family!
Fall Creek Falls State Park
Fall Creek Falls State Park’s Summer Concert Series will wind down Labor Day Weekend with two final concerts this season. 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 final concerts of the season are:
- Saturday, September 4th: Foxfire
- Sunday, September 5th: Cumberland
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.
Standing Stone State Park
Join Standing Stone State Park on Saturday, September 4th, for the 10th Annual Night Light Contest. Campers can decorate their campsite with a creative selection of lights and judging begins after dark. There will be prizes given for most original display! Camping fee is required to participate. For more information, please call 931-823-6347.
Come to Standing Stone State Park on Saturday, September 11th, and be a part of the 28th National Rolley Hole Marble Championship. This traditional marbles contest draws some of the country’s best players to a tournament where players match wit and skills with special flint balls on a smooth dirt surface. Festival includes kids’ games, marble making, a swap meet, tournament play, demonstrations, music and food. Registration is required for the Rolley Hole Tournament. This one-of-a-kind family experience has been featured by ESPN, ABC, ABS, Sports Illustrated and National Geographic! For more information call 931-823-6347.
Standing Stone State Park covers nearly 11,000 acres on the Cumberland Plateau of north-central Tennessee. The quaint and rustic park is noted for its outstanding scenery, spring wildflowers, fossils and other natural diversity. The park is located in Overton County within a triangle formed by highways connecting Livingston, Gainesboro and Celina, Tennessee. The park takes its name from the Standing Stone, an eight-foot tall rock standing upright on a sandstone ledge, which was supposedly used as a boundary line between two separate Indian nations. When the rock fell, the Indians placed a portion of it upon an improvised monument to preserve it. The stone is still preserved in Monterey, Tennessee. For additional information about Standing Stone State Park, please visit www.tnstateparks.com/StandingStone.
Long Hunter State Park
Long Hunter State Park would like to remind everyone that The Nature Circle will not meet on Monday, September 6th, for Labor Day. But will reconvene with some great programming on September 13th. For a complete schedule of events, please visit http://www.friendsoflonghunter.com/kidsplace.html or call 615-885-2422. The park will also hold a number of ranger-led events and activities during the month of September. For additional information about these opportunities, please call 615-885-2422.
There are several hiking trails at Long Hunter designed to provide pleasant walking experiences for all ages and abilities. A favorite trail at the park is the Jason Allen Arboretum Trail, located at Couchville Lake. This particular trail weaves its way through the first certified arboretum in a state park. Here, visitors will see 44 stenciled leaves on the barrier-free, hard surfaced path that signify where the different trees are marked. Unlike most sites where trees are planted for the sole purpose of creating an arboretum, these trees were already occurring naturally around Couchville Lake. The trail was made possible by the hard work and efforts of the Friends of Long Hunter State Park and named after Jason Allen, a longtime Friends member and stalwart supporter of the park. Come out and see this beautiful area of the park!
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 school and other interested groups. For more information about Long Hunter State Park, please visit www.tnstateparks.com/LongHunter or call 615-885-2422.
South Cumberland State Park
South Cumberland State Park will hold several fun and educational activities in the coming weeks:
- Meet at the Stone Door Ranger Station for a Spiders program on Friday, September 3rd, at 2:00pm. Participants will learn to identify native spiders, including dangerous ones. Craft supplies will be available for spider web art.
- Also on September 3rd, Seasonal Ranger Aaron will hold a Nature Hike to Boulders Crossing beginning at 4:00pm. Meet at the Collins West parking lot for a strenuous three-mile hike over beautiful, rocky terrain to view the Collins River and Suter Falls. Along the way, hikers will identify some native trees and wildflowers. Bring water, a snack and sturdy shoes.
- A Night Canoe Trip will be held on September 3rd, beginning at 7:30pm. Experience the peacefulness of Grundy Lakes at night and gaze at the stars reflected in the water. Meet at the Grundy Lakes main parking lot. All participants must reserve a space by calling the Visitor’s Center and must bring their own flashlights. Children will receive their very own glow stick for participation, but they must bring their parents with them!
- Meet Seasonal Ranger Aaron at Savage Gulf Ranger Station on Saturday, September 4th, at 9:00am, for a Mountain Oak Look Hike. This is a difficult 10-mile hike that has some beautiful overlooks of Savage Gulf and the Big Tree trail. Pack a lunch, water and wear sturdy shoes. This is an awesome trek for seasoned hikers only!
- Hop in the creek at Grundy Forest to look for aquatic critters during the Aquatic Critter Detective program on Saturday, September 4th, at 2:00pm. The rocks are slippery, so wear something you don’t mind getting wet.
- Meet Ranger Chase at the Stone Door Ranger Station on September 4th at 2:00pm for an Outdoor Preparedness Workshop. Participants will discuss a variety of supplies to bring with you on the trail, whether out for an hour or a week. Other topics include different survival methods, just in case you become stranded in the wilderness.
- Watch the sunset as you float gently in the lake during an Evening Canoe on Saturday, September 4th, beginning at 6:30pm. Meet at the Grundy Lakes main parking lot. Space and equipment are limited, so call the Visitor’s Center to reserve a space.
- Meet Ranger Chase on Sunday, September 5th, at 2:00pm at the Stone Door Station for an Animal Tracks program – discussing native animals and creating field guides participants can use to identify tracks left around the park and at home.
- Ever wondered how bats find their food? Find out what it’s like to be a bat and participate in the Bat and Moth Game on September 5th. Meet at the Visitor’s Center at 2:30pm. This program is suitable for preschool age and up – so, children bring your parents!
- Also on September 5th, beginning at 3:30pm at the Visitor’s Center, park staff will conduct a Find-a-Tree program. Participants will use their sense of touch and smell to learn about nature close-up. This program is also suitable for preschool ages and up!
- A Horsepound / Suter Falls Hike will be held on Monday, September 6th, with Seasonal Ranger Aaron. Meet at the Collin’s West parking lot at 9:00am for a strenuous six-mile hike – this hike is designed for seasoned hikers. Participants should bring plenty of water, a snack and wear sturdy shoes.
- On September 6th, meet at the Visitor’s Center pavilion at 2:00pm for a Chalk Drawing – illustrating your favorite animal or other item in nature.
- A Hiker’s Challenge will be held on Monday, September 6th, beginning at 4:30pm. – challenge your hiking prowess with the difficult Climber’s Loop hike near Foster Falls. Hikers should meet in the Foster Falls parking lot, bring water and bug spray.
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.
Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
Bicentennial Mall will host several upcoming fund-raising events, including the Autism Speaks 5k Walk on Saturday, September 11th; the SoulWalk 5k, benefiting local and international mission projects, on Saturday, September 18th; and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk on Saturday, September 25th.
Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park is located at the foot of the State Capitol. The park is bordered by James Robertson Parkway, Jefferson Street and Sixth and Seventh Avenues. For more information about the park, please visit www.tnstateparks.com/Bicentennial or call the park office at 615-741-5280.
Bicycle Ride Across Tennessee
The annual Bicycle Ride Across Tennessee is right around the corner – kicking off its 21st year with a seven-day ride beginning September 12th and featuring a loop through some of Tennessee’s most beautiful landscapes.
Originating at Harrison Bay State Park on the picturesque Chickamauga Lake, this year’s route through East Tennessee will offer a variety of scenery and terrain each day. There will be hills, river valleys and some flat terrain, but the 2010 BRAT promises to be more mountainous than in years past. Cyclists can expect to see beautiful, rural Tennessee scenery and interesting backroads along the way. Riders will camp overnight at approximately four Tennessee State Parks during this year’s BRAT, including Harrison Bay, Fall Creek Falls, Fort Loudoun and Hiwassee / Ocoee Scenic River State Park. The city of Athens and McMinn County will host one overnight stay at Athens Regional Park.
The event will begin with check-in at Harrison Bay State Park starting at 1:00pm on Saturday, September 11th, followed by a rider’s meeting at 6:30pm. On Sunday, riders will be introduced to the route with a scenic 75-mile ride to Fall Creek Falls State Park traveling through Chattanooga, Soddy-Daisy and up the Cumberland Plateau. Riders will arrive at Fall Creek Falls as the park’s Mountaineer Folk Festival is winding down, with plenty to do and see.
The 21st Annual Bicycle Ride Across Tennessee is sponsored by Tennessee State Parks, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Cumberland Trail Conference and the Tennessee Park Rangers Association. A portion of proceeds from the event will benefit the Cumberland Trail Conference and the state’s Park Rangers Association, both non-profit organizations. For registration information or more details about the BRAT, please e-mail Gary Patterson at or visit www.tnstateparks.com/BRAT.
Tennessee’s 53 state parks and 81 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.