IF YOU GO
What: Hiketoberfest for Cumberland Trail State Park
When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. See a schedule at http://www.cumberlandtrailchallenge.org/program-schedule
Where: Shackleford Ridge County Park, 4447 Shackleford Ridge Road, Signal Mountain
Cost: $15 donation; children 12 and under admitted free
Many in the Chattanooga area know of the Cumberland Trail - beginning on Signal Mountain, winding along the plateau above Soddy-Daisy and Dayton and ending eventually in Kentucky.
But few know there's more to the park than a long trail. Its music has its own following and radio show. Its culture and oral history are being recorded and collected by interns and volunteers. Its geology and biological resources are still being cataloged by experts.
All of those branching facets in a park created only in 1998 offer immense demands for the shoestring staff of rangers.
"Like every other park, we have the challenge of keeping the resources and cultures protected. There are wonderful parks all over the country that have been closed for lack of ability to manage all the resources," said Bobby Fulcher, park superintendent.
On Sunday, park officials have scheduled the inaugural "Hiketoberfest" to acquaint the community with the new park, its heritage and its needs.
The Friends of the Cumberland Trail, which has funded much of the music, oral history and cataloging, plans a celebration at the trailhead at the Shackleford Ridge County Park.
The celebration will showcase music, storytelling, history, guided hikes and demonstrations of Cumberland Trail fauna and flora. It also will introduce the Cumberland Trail Challenge, with several ways to support the 300-mile, half-finished trail.
Friends member Sally Wencel said 85 Tennessee communities lie along the Cumberland Trail, so many residents have a stake in seeing the state park is protected.
"The state employees are stretched very thin," she said. "There are only four rangers to cover all the trails in this area,and much of their time is spent policing. So it's up to citizens to help."