Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / The waters of Fall Creek tumble over rock outcroppings upstream from Fall Creek Falls in Fall Creek Falls State Park near Spencer, Tenn., on Sept. 3, 2020.

The great outdoors became even greater during the homebound days of the pandemic, when millions turned to trails for socially distanced physical and mental restoration.

On Saturday, there's a good chance to claim some scenic downtime during National Trails Day, when many state parks offer outings. If your favorite doesn't have an event planned, consider a self-guided ramble.

According to the journal Nature Scientific Reports, spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature, as simple as strolling a tree-lined street, can greatly enhance your overall sense of well-being.

The following is a list of Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia state parks where you can enjoy National Trails Day, organized by the American Hiking Society. All are within about 90 minutes of Chattanooga.

Other options could include the Tennessee Riverpark, North Chickamauga Creek Greenway, Collegedale Greenway, Enterprise South and the Chickamauga Battlefield.

Lula Lake Land Trust is open for the weekend, but Gaston Farmer, the community engagement coordinator, said the Lookout Mountain property is at capacity and no longer accepting reservations.



For these ranger-led outings, wear closed-toe shoes and bring water. Visit the websites to register.

* Booker T. Washington State Park: Chattanooga. This 90-minute, 1.1-mile nature walk will include stops to sketch, identify and learn about favorite plants and wildlife. Starts at 9 a.m.

* Cumberland Mountain State Park: Crossville. This 2-mile loop along Byrd Creek Trail starts at 10 a.m. CDT. Highlights include several sections of hemlock trees that create a cooling canopy and a footbridge built as an Eagle Scout project.

* Cumberland Trail State Park: Access from Pikeville. This roughly 1-mile, easy-to-moderate hike along the Falcon Warrior Trail, starting at 11 a.m., will showcase the birthplace of the Sequatchie River and an overlook at Devil Step Hollow Cave.

* Fall Creek Falls State Park: Spencer. Get an intro to the trails at 9 a.m.; try the 4.2-mile lakeside Gilbert Gaul Hike at 10 a.m. or take the Four Waterfalls Hike, a two-hour, 2.5-mile scenic loop, at noon (all times Central).

* Harrison Bay State Park: Chattanooga. A half-mile trek on Lakeshore Loop starts at 9:30 a.m.

* Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park: Delano. Here's a chance to help beautify the park while you walk. You'll start at the 1.5-mile-long Loop Trail, which follows the Hiwassee River, then you'll pick up any litter along the road through the park. Later in the morning, you'll caravan to the Taylors Island pulloff and work along the Fishermen's Trail. The outing lasts from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

* Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park: Manchester. This 10:30 a.m. CDT outing on the Enclosure Trail, a 1.5-mile, fairly easy, unpaved trail, will include the history of the park, the prehistoric Indian mounds and a chance to see waterfalls.

* Red Clay State Historic Park: Cleveland. Learn the history of Red Clay on this 11 a.m. tour. The route will be over a paved path with a set of stairs in the middle at Blue Hole Spring.

* South Cumberland State Park: Access from Gruetli-Laager. Help with work on the Collins Gulf reroute with area Boy Scouts. They'll work from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT, but you don't have to commit to the whole day. The hike in is about 2 strenuous miles with elevation change and boulder crossings.



Georgia state parks are open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. and have a $5 parking fee. Hours and admission vary at historic sites. Admission is restricted when parks are at capacity.

* Chief Vann House State Historic Site: Chatsworth. Combine the short nature trail (1 mile round trip) with a guided tour of the historic home. $5.50-$6.50.

* Cloudland Canyon State Park: Rising Fawn. No events are scheduled, but you can create your own adventure on 64 miles of trails.

* Fort Mountain State Park: Chatsworth. More than 25 miles of trails, from easy strolls on paved trails to backcountry and waterfall adventures.

* James H. "Sloppy" Floyd State Park: Summerville. No scheduled events, but 5 miles of trails to explore.

* New Echota Historic Site: Calhoun. One-hour guided tours of the historic grounds and buildings start at 6 a.m., 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. A highlight is the historic press in the Cherokee Phoenix Print Shop. $5.50-$7 admission.

* Resaca Battlefield Historic Site: Resaca. This preserved Civil War battlefield includes 4 miles of walking trails.



* DeSoto State Park: Fort Payne. No hiking events scheduled, but more than 30 miles of trails to explore.

* Lake Guntersville State Park: Guntersville. The park's 36 miles of trail include the Benny Bobo Multiuse Trail, which is paved, has accessible parking and two benches along the route.

Contact Lisa Denton at or 423-757-6281.