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The first week of social distancing hasn't even concluded but aren't we all ready to get outside?

Put some spring back in your step by joining one of the spring hikes offered at area Tennessee State Parks on Saturday, March 21. They range from short nature walks to adventurous hikes into remote stretches of land to view natural beauty.

Additionally, a first day of spring hike is scheduled at South Cumberland State Park, Thursday, March 19.

All of these events are free, but require registration on individual park websites, which can all be found at https://tnstateparks.com/events

As of press time, these spring hikes were still on, but events are prone to change quickly as the public deals with coronavirus safety, so it would be prudent to check the park website or call ahead and make sure the hike in which you are interested is still taking place.

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 19

 

* Where: South Cumberland State Park, 11745 Highway 41, Monteagle

* When: 12:30-3:30 p.m. CDT

* Fee: $10

* For more information: 931-924-2980

Welcome the first day of spring with a ranger-led, moderately strenuous, 3.1-mile round-trip hike around the Grundy Forest Day Loop to Sycamore Falls and back. Along the way, hikers will see four of South Cumberland's waterfalls. Learn about the ecosystem that grows in Fiery Gizzard as well as some of that area's history. Wear sturdy shoes, appropriate clothing for the weather and bring plenty of water and some snacks.

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 21

 

* Where: Booker T. Washington State Park, 5801 Champion Road

* When: 8-10 a.m.

* Fee: Free

* For more information: 423-260-0366

Join Kahla Stewart for an early morning walk through the park. Dress for the weather, wear closed-toe shoes and bring water.

 

* Where: Cumberland Mountain State Park, 24 Office Drive, Crossville

* When: 10 a.m.-noon CDT

* Fee: Free, suggested donation of $5 or $10

* For more information: 931-484-6138

Meet at the park office for this hike to learn about plants and animals that make their homes on Cumberland Mountain during this 2-mile, easy-to-moderate hike along Byrd Creek.

 

* Where: Cumberland Trail State Park, 220 Park Road, Caryville

* When: 9 a.m.-noon (Eastern)

* Free: Free, suggested donation of $5 or $10

* For more information: 423-480-3047

Meet at Stinging Fork State Natural Area parking lot, located on Shut-In Gap Road in Spring City, Tennessee, for a 3-mile round-trip hike. Terrain is moderately strenuous, so wear sturdy boots and dress for the weather. Dogs on leashes with up-to-date shot records are welcome.

 

* Where: Fall Creek Falls State Park, 2009 Village Camp Road, Spencer

* When: Two hikes, both starting at 9 a.m. CDT

* Fee: Free, suggested donation of $5 or $10

* For more information: 423-881-5298

Join a ranger at the playground in Village Green at 9 a.m. for a two-hour hike along the Turkey Pen, Gorge Overlook and Woodland trails.

A second hike, this one to Dog Cove, begins at 9 a.m. and lasts until 1 p.m. CDT. Bring water, snacks/lunch, wear sturdy shoes and be prepared for a strenuous hike.

 

* Where: Harrison Bay State Park, 8411 Harrison Bay Road

* When: 10:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

* Fee: Free

* For more information: 423-344-6214

Join Ranger Matt Vawter on a 4.2-mile hike around Bay Point Loop Trail. Wear sturdy, close-toe shoes and bring a water bottle.

 

* Where: Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park, 404 Spring Creek Road, Delano

* When: 10 a.m.-noon

* Fee: Free, but suggested donation of $5 or $10; $3 parking at Ocoee Whitewater Center

* For more information: 423-263-0050

Meet at the Ocoee Whitewater Center for a 2.6-mile (one way) hike along Old Cooper Road Trail. Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes and bring a water bottle.

 

* Where: Red Clay State Park, 1140 Red Clay Park Road, Cleveland.

* When: 1:30-2:30 p.m.

* Fee: Free, suggested donation of $5 or $10

* For more information: 423-478-0339

Join a ranger for a half-mile tour of Red Clay's Cherokee council grounds. Wear sturdy hiking/walking shoes, bring bug spray, sunscreen and water.

 

* Where: South Cumberland State Park, 11745 Highway 41, Monteagle, Tenn.

* When: 2-6 p.m. CDT

* Fee: Free, suggested donation of $5 or $10

* For more information: 931-924-2980

Collins Gulf is well-known for its spring wildflowers and this 5-mile hike may offer a glimpse of early spring ephemerals. The hike is considered difficult, with a good bit of elevation change on rocky terrain, so hikers need to wear proper footwear, bring water, snacks and a camera.

Contact Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.

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