Fall in Tennessee is a glorious time! Tennessee State Parks has some of the very best events and programs the season has to offer – featuring a mosaic of color, pumpkins galore and a few tricks or treats up our sleeves!
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 fall. From great hikes to bluegrass – there’s something designed for the entire family!
Here are just a few state park events in your area.
Long Hunter State Park
Spider in the Web, Having a Hoot with Owls, Deer in the Woods and Very Valuable Vultures are just a few of the upcoming topics The Nature Circle at Long Hunter State Park will be discussing in the coming weeks. The Nature Circle is an interactive group made up of nature-themed stories, puppets, songs and crafts for ages three to five. The group meets at the park visitor center every Monday at 10:00am and is co-sponsored by the Friends of Long Hunter State Park. Children are encouraged to bring an item, such as a favorite book, stuffed animal or photograph that relates to each week’s theme. For a complete schedule of events, please visit www.friendsoflonghunter.com/kidsplace.html or call 615-885-2422.
Long Hunter State Park also will offer a number of great programs in the coming weeks, including:
- Fourth Annual Long Hunter Mega-Hike: Saturday, October 23rd, at 7:00am. – Join naturalist and avid hiker Jason Allen in an attempt to hike ALL of Long Hunter’s trails – all 26 miles – in a single day. If this sounds like more than you can handle, don’t worry! Whether you hike two miles or all 26 miles, the main objective is to have fun and enjoy the fall colors while experiencing the variety of wildlife habitats Long Hunter has to offer. Please bring water, lunch, snacks and good hiking shoes. Those who complete all 26 miles will receive a certificate of merit signed by Park Manager Thurman Mullins. Participants should me at the Area 2 / Couchville Lake parking lot.
- Couchville Glade Evening Stroll: Monday, October 25th, at 5:00pm. – Take a walk through coneflower country with Naturalist Ponda Armstrong, for a discussion on the geology and ecology of one of Tennessee’s most unique ecosystems – the Couchville Cedar Glade. This area features two federally endangered plant species – the Tennessee Coneflower and Leafy Prairie Clover – as well as Prickly Pear Cactus and Limestone Fameflower. Participants will keep their eyes and ears open for songbirds, owls and other wildlife! Please meet at Couchville Cedar Glade parking lot on South Mt. Juliet Road.
- Halloween Hunt 5-Mile Run: Saturday, October 30th, at 11:00am. – This event is part of the 32nd Annual Tennessee State Parks Running Tour. This race will include two laps around Couchville Lake. Awards will be presented in five age categories and there will also be a Halloween costume contest and grilled hotdogs! Early registrants will receive a t-shirt. For more info, call Tomas de Paulis at 615-889-1306 or visit www.imathlete.com.
- Spooktacular Halloween Hike: Sunday, October 31st, at 1:00pm. – The Volunteer Trail / Day Loop area features some of Long Hunter’s most impressive natural features – majestic trees, rocky outcrops, a wide variety of plants and impressive views of Percy Priest Lake. Join State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath on this easy-to-moderate, four-mile hike as we explore this scenic area and take in the fall colors. Participants should meet the Volunteer Trail parking lot.
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 host a variety of unique hikes and programs in the coming weeks, including:
- Nature Hike: Friday, October 22nd, at 9:00am. – Meet at the Stone Door Ranger Station to learn some Tennessee native trees and wildflowers, while soaking up some incredible views. This is an easy family friendly, two-mile hike – so bring the kids, water and a snack!
- Volunteer Day – Trail Basics: Friday, October 22nd, at 2:00pm. – All volunteers welcome. Meet at the Stone Door Ranger Station for some hands-on trail education and maintenance, including trail dimensions, safety concerns, water management and exotic invasive plant removal.
- Stargazing – Identify Objects in the Night Sky: Friday, October 22nd, at 6:00pm. – Meet Seasonal Ranger Aaron at the Savage Gulf picnic area for an informative demonstration on how to make and use a star wheel. Visitors will be able to make their own star wheel and hopefully practice using it (weather permitting). Materials will be provided. Bring a headlamp or flashlight.
- Ravens Day Hike: Saturday, October 23rd, at 8:00am. – Come out and join Ranger Jason on the rugged, yet beautiful nine-mile Ravens Point Loop trail. Bring lunch and water.
- Make Your Own Terrarium/Aquarium: Saturday, October 23rd, at 9:00am. – Meet the ranger at the Stone Door Ranger Station. Please bring any empty two-liter bottles you have at home. Participants will be making and decorating land or water containers to bring home and fill with your own fish, insects or small critters.
- Water Filters: Saturday, October 23rd, at 2:00 p.m. – Meet the ranger at the Stone Door Station for a discussion on water quality and how to make a water filter from common materials to prepare contaminated water for boiling and drinking.
- Paint the Pet Rock: Sunday, October 24th, at 9:00am. – Join staff at the Stone Door Ranger Station to create your own pet rock. All materials will be provided, just bring your creativity!
- Animal Tracks: Sunday, October 24th, at 2:00pm. – Meet the ranger at the Stone Door Ranger Station for a discussion on native animals and to create your own field guides. Participants can take these home to identify tracks left around the park and in your own backyard.
- Paper Pumpkins: Sunday, October 24th, at 2:30pm. – Meet Seasonal Ranger Aaron at the Savage Gulf picnic area to make your own pumpkin from construction paper. Materials will be provided. Children of all ages welcome.
- Greeter Falls Nature Hike: Friday, October 29th, at 9:00am. – Join Ashlie at the Greeter Falls parking lot to enjoy a moderate two-mile hike Greeter Falls. Bring sturdy shoes, water and swimwear so you can take a quick dip!
- Savage Day Loop Hike: Friday, October 29th, at 2:30pm. – Meet Seasonal Ranger Aaron at the Savage Gulf Ranger Station for a moderate five-mile hike on the Savage Day Loop. Along the way, hikers will see Savage Falls and the beautiful Rattlesnake Point overlook. Bring water, a snack and wear sturdy shoes. Don’t forget your camera!
- Volunteer Day: Exotic Invasives: Saturday, October 30th, at 2:00pm. – Meet at the Stone Door Ranger Station and learn about the dangers of exotic invasive plants. There will be hands-on demonstrations and volunteers will help remove these pesky plants!
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.
Edgar Evins State Park
Join the Friends of Edgar Evins State Park on Saturday, November 6th, for the park’s annual Fall Color Cruise. The cruise will last approximately two hours and is a great opportunity to view the fall scenery – and even a few homes of country stars! Admission is $10.00 per person and reservations required. Contact the park office for reservations! For more information, please call 931-858-2446 or 800-250-8619.
Edgar Evins State Park is located on the shores of Center Hill Lake in the steep, hilly Eastern Highland Rim. The 6,000-acre park provides excellent recreational opportunities and accommodations on one of the most beautiful reservoirs in Tennessee. Wildlife is abundant, including three different owl species, numerous hawks and wintering bald eagles as well as the rare Cerulean Warbler – a summer resident of the park’s mixed hardwood forests, which include stands of Tulip Poplar, Oak, Hickory, Buckeye and Wild Cherry. The park was dedicated in 1975 and named for James Edgar Evins, a Dekalb County businessman and mayor of nearby Smithville. As a two-term state senator, Evins was instrumental in the development of Center Hill Dam and Reservoir. For more information about the History Hayride, please call 800-250-8619. Additional information about the park can be found at www.tnstateparks.com/EdgarEvins.
Bledsoe Creek State Park
Join the Friends of Bledsoe Creek State Park on Saturday, October 23rd, from noon to 3:00pm for Emergency Appreciation Services Day. Come out and say “thank you” to the men and women who protect our communities! The event is open to the public. For more information, please call 615-347-3639.
Located off of Highway 25 in Sumner County, this 164-acre park is situated on the Bledsoe Creek embayment of the U.S. Corps of Engineers Old Hickory Reservoir near the old 1780s settlement of Cairo. Offering boating, fishing and hiking – the park also has an outstanding campground, which was recently renovated. For more information about Bledsoe Creek, visit the Web site at www.tnstateparks.com/bledsoecreek.
Port Royal State Park
Discover Port Royal after dark on Thursday and Friday, October 21st-22nd, during the Port Royal by Lantern tour! Visit and hear stories from some of Port Royal’s and early Tennessee’s most interesting characters, spanning over the past 250 years. While waiting for the tour, sit and enjoy the campfire while drinking some warm cider. All ages are invited and the event is free! The tour begins at 6:00pm and will run until 9:00pm (CDT). For more information about the event, please call 931-358-9696.
Located in Adams, Port Royal was the site of one of the earliest colonial communities and trading posts in Middle Tennessee. It was first settled in the early 1780s, and also served as a Longhunter camp as early as 1775. The town of Port Royal was founded in 1797 and rose to great prominence in the early part of the 19th century because of its strategic location at the head of navigation on the Red River, serving all of northern Middle Tennessee and South Central Kentucky. Port Royal became the only stop in Tennessee on the “Great Western Road” stagecoach line between Nashville, Tennessee, and Golconda, Illinois, and served as such until the 20th century. In 1977, the state of Tennessee received the deed to 26 acres of land at Port Royal and designated it a State Historic Park in 1978.
Port Royal State Park is the second Tennessee State Park to be named an official site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, joining Red Clay State Historic Park in Bradley County. This park is a satellite of Dunbar Cave State Park. For more information about the park, please visit www.tnstateparks.com/PortRoyal.
Rock Island State Park
Join the staff at Rock Island on Saturday, October 23rd, for Halloween in the Park. Various activities for cabin and campground guests of all ages are planned, including costume contests and ghoulish hayrides. For more information, please call 931-686-2471.
The scenic beauty of this wooded park is dominated by the Great Falls of the Caney Fork River – an imposing limestone gorge or “gulf” as it is called in the region. It provides scenic overlooks, waterfalls and deep pools for fishing, rock hopping and exploring. Located at the confluence of the Collins and Caney Fork Rivers, this 883-acre park has a natural sand beach on Center Hill Reservoir. Historic features of the park include a 19th-century textile mill and one of Tennessee’s early hydroelectric plants. For additional information about the park, please visit www.tnstateparks.com/RockIsland.
David Crockett State Park
Visit David Crockett State Park on Saturday, October 23rd, for the Halloween History Trail and experience a different kind of treat! The 6th Annual Halloween History Trail will bring back to life visions of the park’s past. Join park staff for a look at the people and their slightly spooky stories that are important to the park’s history. The trail is only a short walk and guided tours leave on a rotation. There will be games and food (for a donation) while you wait! The first tour will depart at 7:00pm, with the final tour leaving no later than 8:15pm. For more information about the park’s Halloween History Trail, please contact the park office at 931-762-9408.
David Crockett was a pioneer, soldier, politician, and industrialist and was born near the town of Limestone in northeast Tennessee in 1786. In 1817, he moved to Lawrence County and served as a justice of the peace, a colonel of the militia and as state representative. Along the banks of Shoal Creek, he established a diversified industry consisting of a powdermill, a gristmill and a distillery. All three operations were washed away in a flood in September 1821. Financial difficulties from this loss caused Crockett to move to West Tennessee where he was elected to Congress. While in Washington, he fought for the right of the people to keep land they had settled on the new frontier of West Tennessee. Crockett died at the Alamo Mission in March of 1836, while aiding the Texans in their fight for independence from Mexico. Information about the park can also be found at www.tnstateparks.com/DavidCrockettSP.
Fall Creek Falls State Park
Fall Creek Falls State Park’s annual Fall Colors Weekend is slated for Saturday and Sunday, October 23rd-24th. A prime destination for leaf peeping, Fall Creek Falls offers bicycle tours, guided hikes and slideshows – all focused on the splendor of autumn! With outstanding accommodations at a family-friendly price – make your weekend plans at Fall Creek Falls today! For more information, please call 423-881-5298. For inn or cabin reservations call toll free at 800-250-8610.
On Saturday, October 30th, Fall Creek Falls will host its annual Wild Foods Day – a series of field trips identifying edible wild plants and workshops on preparing wild meats and breads are just part of the activities! The real treat comes in enjoying the wild feast. For more information, please call 731-235-2700.
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.
Burgess Falls State Park
The Friends of Burgess Falls State Park and Natural Area invite all current members, as well as those interested in becoming members, to attend the Annual General Membership Meeting. This year’s meeting will be held on Saturday, October 23rd, at the Park Pavilion beginning at 10:00am. Join the Friends group for a meal and fellowship, as they discuss upcoming projects and review the past year’s activities. In 2010, the Friends group achieved 501c(3) status, allowing them to continue their efforts to protect the park and offer quality educational programming, such as Burgess Falls’ Junior Ranger program.
Those interested in working together to support and enhance Burgess Falls are encouraged to attend this meeting, as we work to serve our community. For more information, please contact Mike Mason at 931-761-5878 or via e-mail at .
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 park, please call 931-432-5312 or visit www.tnstateparks.com/BurgessFalls.
Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
In commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War, Tennessee’s Sesquicentennial Commission announces the state’s Inaugural Sesquicentennial Signature Event. Taking place Saturday and Sunday, November 12th-13th, the theme of this historic milestone is The Coming of the Civil War. Governor Phil Bredesen will kick off the event at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Jackson Hall beginning at 10:00am on November 12th.
The Tennessee Sesquicentennial Signature Event will consist of historical discussions, stories and re-enactments in addition to music by the internationally acclaimed Fisk Jubilee Singers and a special appearance by country superstar Trace Adkins. In addition, the historical significance of local attractions such as the Tennessee State Capitol, Tennessee State Museum, Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, Tennessee State Library and Archives and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center will be highlighted. State-sponsored activities will be held in downtown Nashville throughout the two-day event. Special recognition for Tennessee’s Civil War Trails communities and their efforts in sustaining the state’s history will also play an important role in the event. Registration for Tennessee’s Sesquicentennial Signature Event is free and open to the public. For more information, please visit www.tnvacation.com/civil-war/events.
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.
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.