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Tennessee parks to ring in spring with guided hikes

From staff reports • Mar 12, 2017 at 1:14 AM

The 56 state parks in Tennessee will be hosting free guided hikes statewide on Saturday, March 18 to celebrate the coming of spring and the bounty of recreation opportunities these treasures offer.

Park staff will guide free hikes throughout the day.

“For 80 years our state park system has created outdoor adventures and recreational opportunities for all Tennesseans,” said Brock Hill, deputy commissioner of Parks and Conservation. “We are always excited to highlight our state’s beauty and special stories.”

The wide selection of events across the state ensures that everyone can find a hike suitable for them. Hikes will range in distance, degree of skill, accessibility and time of day in an effort to accommodate the needs of anyone who seeks to enjoy a day outdoors. Planned activities along the trails include wildlife viewing, spring clean-ups, scavenger hunts and historical interpretive programs.

The our area, the events offered include:

Warriors Path State Park, Kingsport: “Capture the Moment” spring photo hike, 8:30 a.m.-noon. Enjoy an indoor talk on improving your nature photography then a photo hike through scenic spring woodlands.(Meet at Warriors Path State Park Recreation Building.)

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, Elizabethton: “Arboretum Ramble” spring hike, 11 a.m. Join retired forester Martin Miller for a special guided tour of the arboretum. (Meet in the Visitor Center lobby.)

Roan Mountain State Park: Spring Clean-up 2017, 1:30-4 p.m. Join park staff for a trail maintenance work day to clean up winter deadfall and get the trails ready for spring and summer visitors. (Meet at Park Headquarters.)

For a full list of all planned hikes for March 18, go online at tnstateparks.com.

Bill Beazell Memorial Cleanup coming up March 25

Trout Unlimited’s Overmountain Chapter is conducting the third annual Bill Beazell Memorial Cleanup from 9 a.m.-noon on March 25. The cleanup is in association with the inaugural Tailwater Roundup, an effort by local conservation organizations and fishing-industry participants to improve visitors’ enjoyment and stewardship of our local rivers.

Interested participants can meet at one of three locations; Watauga Bluffs State Natural Area (3511 Steam Plant Road, Watauga, Tenn.), the Weir Dam parking on the South Holston River or in the Ingles parking lot in Elizabethton. Gloves, bags and tools will be provided. Participants must bring waders or other clothes that can get wet. Those taking part will be eligible for participation prizes awarded at 4 p.m. at the Weir Dam parking on the South Holston River. Participants working at Watauga Bluffs will also be entered for an additional drawing held immediately after the cleanup.

The Overmountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited has been working to protect and conserve streams and rivers in the Tri-Cities area since 1986. OMTU was a partner in creating the Watauga Bluffs State Natural Area and is responsible for maintaining parking, trails and removing trash.

More information on the cleanup or the Overmountain Chapter can be found at www.omtu.org or on Facebook, @overmountaintu.

Turkey hunting in CNF? That’s a challenge

The statewide spring wild turkey season in Tennessee opens April 1, and hunting opportunities in the Cherokee National Forest offer a particular challenge.

The CNF covers some 650,000 acres of public land in 10 East Tennessee counties, and the steep, rugged terrain and remoteness of much of the area make it a unique place to hunt. Experienced hunters rely on topographical maps and a compass or a global positioning system unit to make the most of their hunts. Doing preseason scouting, knowing how to read a map, knowledge of turkey habitat and habits, physical stamina and determination are keys to a successful turkey season in the CNF.

Many roads within the CNF are closed to motorized vehicles but are open to foot, bicycle and horse travel unless posted otherwise.

With the spring turkey season just around the corner, U.S. Forest Service officials wish to remind hunters to check with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for specific hunting regulation information. The TWRA is responsible for setting seasons and bag limits as well as for licenses and regulations. For more information, go online at tnwildlife.org.

General national forest information and maps are available at Forest Service offices in Greeneville, (423) 638-4109; Unicoi, (423) 735-1500; Tellico Plains, (423) 253-8400; Benton, (423) 338-3300; and Cleveland, (423) 476-9700. Information also is available online at www.fs.usda.gov/cherokee.