Tennessee – Tennessee State Parks kicked off its 75th Anniversary at the start of the new year with a series of First Hikes all across the state.
Each state park hosted a First Hike to herald in 2012 and the beginning of Tennessee State Parks’ 75th Anniversary celebration. While hikers had a variety of trail types, distances and interpretive programs to choose from – over the course of two days, approximately 900 participants came out to cover more than 115 miles during these First Hikes across Tennessee.
The following are the First Hike highlights for Middle Tennessee.
Radnor Lake State Park
The First Hike of 2012 at Radnor Lake State Park and Natural Area in Nashville drew 24 participants to a Saturday, December 31st, midnight hike to Harris Ridge led by Park Manager Steve Ward and Ranger Jesse Germeraad.
David Crockett State Park
New Year’s Day afternoon was beautiful at David Crockett State Park in Lawrenceburg for the 60 participants who came out for a First Hike on the Overlook Trail and down to Shoal Creek with Park Manager Henry Philips, Interpretive Ranger Rachel Bridges and Ranger Wes Huckaba. Hot chocolate and s’mores were enjoyed by hikers of all ages before and after the hike.
Lebanon State Park
The First Hike of 2012 at Cedars of Lebanon State Park in Wilson County was also held New Year’s Day. Participants met Park Ranger Shauna Bridgers at the park office at 2:00pm and she shared a history of Cedars of Lebanon and how this recreation demonstration project began in the 1930s as a joint reclamation by the U.S. Forestry Service, the Works Progress Administration and the Resettlement Administration.
Despite the park’s name, the majority of the evergreen trees on the site are actually junipers. The only true cedar is an imported tree nurtured by Interpretive Ranger Buddy Ingram at the Merrit Dixon Nature Center. Participants enjoyed the sunny skies and a leisurely two-mile interpretive walk on the Cedar Forest Trail.
Refreshments were provided at the office before and after the hike. Thanks to rangers Shauna Bridgers and Paul Ernest for leading this most entertaining trek along the Cedar Forest Trail.
Standing Stone State Park
Ranger Travis Stover, TDEC Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill, and Park Manager Chris Cole took a break during the First Hike on New Year’s Day at Standing Stone State Park in Overton County. Participants noted the interesting history and nature found all along Standing Stone Lake.
Montgomery Bell State Park
Also on New Year’s Day, the First Hike at Montgomery Bell State Park took hikers down the beautiful Montgomery Bell Trail, where they also learned how the iron forge industry and the Civilian Conservation Corps fit into the park history through a great interpretive program by Ranger John Bass. State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath and Interpretive Ranger Tim Wheatley also provided very interesting programs on raptors and natural features that make Montgomery Bell so wonderful.
Long Hunter State Park
Long Hunter State Park hosted a “Steppin’ Into 2012” hike on Monday, January 2nd, 2012. Although there were cold winds blowing and a dramatic drop in temperature from Sunday to Monday, 28 hikers braved the chill for the First Hike of the year at Long Hunter.
Ranger Tyler Blystone led the hike and gave several mini-programs along the 3.5-mile Jones Mill Mountain Bike Trail, located at the Bryant’s Grove area of Long Hunter. Everyone completing the hike not only made new friends and had a great time, but also earned a certificate for their efforts. 75th Anniversary tee shirts were presented to the oldest and the youngest hiker to make the entire trek.
Nine-year-old Jacob Newman won the award for the youngest. Jacob attended the hike with his mother, Jamie Newman, both of Smyrna. Bill Davis of Mt. Juliet received the award for being the oldest hiker at the event. Bill is a regular hiker at Long Hunter and a long-time friend and supporter of the park.
Alvin C. York State Park
The First Hike at Sergeant Alvin C. York State Park was held on Monday, January 2nd. Thanks to trusty trail guide Tommy Stowers for leading the hike beyond the river to Sgt. York’s gravesite. It was also great day to tour of the York House in Pall Mall.
Tennessee State Parks will host a variety of special events throughout 2012 – so stay tuned for more information in the coming months. For more information about Tennessee State Parks, please visit www.tnstateparks.com.