Longer days, warmer weather and wildflowers popping out of the ground are sure signs that spring is here.
Shed the winter blahs by taking part in one of the free hikes being offered by Tennessee State Parks on Saturday, March 24, at the annual Spring Hike Day.
Each park is offering its own take on a hike, and all hikes will be guided by park staff who will point out the natural, cultural and historical treasures of that state park. Hikes vary from short nature trail walks to adventurous excursions.
Schedules and events are subject to change, so anyone planning to participate is encouraged to contact the park for more information or to confirm an event.
» Booker T. Washington State Park: 5801 Champion Road, meet at The Point, 1-3 p.m. 423-322-5160.
First spring hike of the season will be 2.5 miles with scenic lake views.
» Cumberland Trail State Park: 225 Tranquility Lane, Pikeville, Tenn., 10-11 a.m. CDT. 423-240-2239.
Meet at Head of Sequatchie ranger station and join ranger Ryan Maddux at the Head of Sequatchie segment of trail for a turkey adventure. One-mile hike includes historically significant and protected Devilstep Hollow Cave (which may not be entered), Falcon Warrior Trail and burial site of the first sheriff of Cumberland County.
» Fall Creek Falls State Park: 2009 Village Camp Road, Spencer, Tenn., 9 a.m. CDT. 423-881-3297.
Meet at falls main overlook for ranger-guided hike to base of falls. Dress for weather: bring water and camera.
» Fort Loudoun State Historic Park: 338 Fort Loudoun Road, Vonore, Tenn., 11 a.m.-noon. 423-884-6217.
Meet at Visitors Center for short hike focusing on history of the fort.
» Harrison Bay State Park: 8411 Harrison Bay Road, 2-4 p.m. 423-344-6214.
Meet at Bay Point Loop trailhead in upper marina parking lot for 2.5-mile hike around Chickamauga Lake. Wear shoes that can get muddy. Registration required due to limited class size.
» Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park: 404 Spring Creek Road, Delano, Tenn., 7:30-9:30 p.m. 423-263-0050.
Meet at park office to carpool to Quinn Springs for a ranger-guided night hike. Wear sturdy shoes; bring water and a flashlight.
» Red Clay State Park: 1140 Red Clay Park Road, Cleveland, Tenn., 10-11 a.m., 423-478-0339.
Meet at gazebo for tour of Red Clay's historic features.
» South Cumberland State Park: 11745 Highway 41, Monteagle, Tenn., 10 a.m.-3 p.m. CDT. 615-418-5787.
Meet at Collins West trailhead, 55th Avenue off Highway 108 in Gruetli-Laager, Tenn., and join state naturalist Randy Hedgepath for the Collins Gulf Wildflower Pilgrimage, a 5-mile round-trip hike.
OTHER AREA HIKES
» Cloudland Canyon State Park: 122 Cloudland Canyon Park Road, Rising Fawn, Ga., 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, March 24, and Wednesday, March 28, $10 plus $5 parking. 706-913-7170.
One-mile hike on a flat trail by the river to Sitton's Gulch to identify and record wildflowers. For ages 10 and up, minors must be accompanied by an adult. Reservations required due to limited space availability.
» DeSoto State Park: Meet on porch of country store, County Road 89, Fort Payne, Ala., 9 a.m.-noon CDT Saturday, March 24, $23 walk with kit, $11.50 walk without kit. 256-845-5380.
Robert Wilson of Seven Pines Survival leads a plant discovery walk to identify and learn local plants: which are edible, which are toxic, which are weeds. Optional kit includes journal/workbook and flower press kit. For ages 8 and older; registration required due to limited class size.
» Soddy Daisy Hiking Club: Meet in Durham Street parking lot in Soddy-Daisy, 9 a.m. Saturday, March 24, free. 423-304-8327.
Hike Retro Hughes Road trailhead to Rock Creek Bridge and back, slightly strenuous 5.5 miles.
— Compiled by staff writer Susan Pierce