Tennessee – The month of July is National Parks and Recreation Month – the perfect time to get reacquainted with one of the great Tennessee State Parks in the Middle Tennessee area. From hiking to golfing to swimming – there’s truly something for every age and ability!
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 winter. From great hikes to bluegrass – there’s something designed for the entire family!
Here are just a few state park events in your area.
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. Upcoming concerts will feature:
- Saturday, July 23rd – Rigney Family Bluegrass
- Saturday, July 30th – Lantana Drifters
Long Hunter State Park
Long Hunter State Park has several upcoming activities scheduled for the coming weeks. Boat rentals at Couchville Lake are officially open and ready for summertime visitors. Park management also recently announced that the Couchville Lake paved trail is open after weather-related clean-up efforts. Other activities scheduled at Long Hunter include:
Sellars Farm Tour – Stories of the Ancient Ones: Sunday, July 17th at 9:00am – Take a walk back in time at the Sellars Farm State Archaeological Area. Mississippian period Native American culture will be discussed, while visiting this site and you will also enjoy the area’s impressive variety of flora and fauna. All program participants should meet at Sellars Farm State Archaeological Area near Lebanon. Please contact the park office for directions at 615.885.2422.
Make Your Own Slime: Monday, July 18th at 10:00am – Learn about animals that make their own slime and how it aids in their daily life – and then make your own slime! Food coloring may be involved so please dress appropriately.
Couchville Lake Night Hike: Thursday, July 21st at 7:30pm – Join the park for a relaxing moonlight stroll around Couchville Lake and learn what wildlife is active after sunset. We’ll hope to see and/or hear frogs, owls, katydids, bats, whippoorwills and other night critters. Please meet at Area 2 parking lot.
Trivia Night at the Park: Friday, July 22nd at 7:00pm – The last installment of the “Friday Night at the Park” series for this month will feature a variety of nature and science-related questions allowing you to flex your brain muscles and show off your knowledge of our natural world. There will be snacks, music, and lots of prizes – and maybe a few surprises!
Summer Star Party: Saturday, July 23rd, 8:30pm – 10:30pm – The Adventure Science Museum of Nashville presents this free public star party at Long Hunter State Park. Members of the Barnard-Seyfert Astronomical Society will set up telescopes at Group Camp 1 (behind the park office) to provide views of planets, stars and constellations. If the weather is cloudy, the event could be cancelled. For more info, call the AstroLine at 615.401.5092 or visit their website.
Butterflies and Blazing Stars: Sunday, July 24th at 1:00pm – The Blazing Stars are in bloom and Long Hunter’s wide array of butterflies and moths are flocking in droves to these colorful plants in the park’s recently restored prairie! Learn about the unusual, yet special, life of a caterpillar and then get an up-close look at Tiger Swallowtails, Hummingbird Moths, Praying Mantises and other cool insects. Bring binoculars if you have them!
Woodland Walk: Sunday, July 24th at 6:00pm – This easy one-mile hike on the deeply wooded Inland Trail is a great way to discover the flora and fauna of Long Hunter State Park. Ranger Ponda will be your guide on this trail, which features sinkholes, songbirds, unique plants and perhaps a greater variety of hickory trees than anywhere else in the park. Please meet at Area 4 parking lot.
Burgess Falls State Park
Burgess Falls State Park and Natural Area in Sparta will host the Seventh Annual Butterfly Garden Celebration from 9:00am to 3:00pm on Saturday, July 16th. 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:
9:00am – Walk in the Woods: 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.
10:00am – Goodness Snakes Alive: Slither over to the park amphitheater to learn about some of the park’s cold-blooded residents.
11:00am – Dragonflies and Damselflies: 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.
11:00am – Landscaping with Native Plants: Meet at the amphitheater to learn how to landscape with native plants and attract butterflies and other wildlife to your own yard.
Noon and 2:00pm – Butterfly Identification Walk: 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.
Noon – Creek Studies: 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.
1:00pm – Medicinal and Edible Plants: Meet at the amphitheater for a short walk to look at some plants used for a variety of ailments and foods.
2:00pm – Hike to the Big Falls Overlook: 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.
South Cumberland State Park
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. Be sure to check out these upcoming hikes and activities at beautiful South Cumberland State Park (call 931.924.2980 for more information):
Native American Hike: Join Ranger James on Monday, July 18th, at 10:00am at the Grundy State Forest’s parking area for an easy two-mile hike around the day loop trail. Bring water, snacks, and good hiking shoes and be prepared to learn how the Native Americans survived in wooded areas like the Fiery Gizzard.
Environmental Change Hike: Join Ranger James on Tuesday, July 19th, at the Grundy State Forest’s parking area at 2:00pm for an easy two-mile hike around the day loop trail. Bring water, snacks, wear good hiking shoes and bug spray and be prepared to learn about past and future environmental changes to the Grundy State Forest area.
State Natural Areas – Duck River Canoe Float
The Department of Environment and Conservation’s Resource Management Division will host a guided canoe float on the Duck River, a state scenic river, on Saturday, July 23rd. Participants should meet in the Target parking lot at Old Hickory Boulevard and I-65 in Brentwood at 9:00am.
Led by Forrest Evans with the Tennessee State Natural Areas program, the canoe float will begin at Leftwich Bridge and run to the TWRA take-out at Howard Bridge. This section of river has a gentle current and no rapids. It will take approximately four hours to float and is an excellent opportunity for beginners to canoe. Participants are encouraged to bring a lunch, water and a change of clothes.
Participants that bring their own canoes or kayaks will need to provide their own transportation. Canoes may also be rented for a special trip discount of $12.50 per person or $25.00 per canoe through a local rental company. Reservations are required for the Duck River Canoe Float and should be made by July 22nd by calling Forrest Evans at 615.532.0431 or e-mailing .
A 13-mile section of the Duck River is a state scenic river, and runs through the Duck River Complex State Natural Area. The Duck River Complex is a 2,135-acre natural area complex in Maury County that consists of six natural areas within the 12,800-acre Yanahli Wildlife Management Area, which is managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency. The Duck River is noted for rich faunal diversity, particularly the several federal endangered mussel species.
The Duck River Canoe Float is part of a series of monthly, guided trips to Tennessee State Natural Areas offered by the department’s Resource Management Division. Tennessee has 82 designated natural areas throughout the state, covering approximately 120,000 acres of ecologically significant lands. More information about Tennessee’s natural areas program, including a complete list of all natural areas and scheduled field trips, can be found at www.tn.gov/environment/na/.
About Tennessee State Parks
Tennessee’s 53 state parks and 82 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.