As the seasons change, Tennessee State Parks are full of fall beauty, great programming and the perfect setting to enjoy the crisp, outdoor air. There are several opportunities in East Tennessee in the coming weeks, including outstanding workshops, fall festivals and cultural events – just to name a few. Stay tuned next week for more fall foliage opportunities.
Big Ridge State Park
Big Ridge State Park will host its annual Ghost Hikes every Friday and Saturday throughout the month of October – a chance to join park rangers for a spine-tingling night hike! There will be 1.2 miles of spooky stories from Big Ridge’s past. Bring your own flashlight. The hike is free but reservations are required. There is a limit of 30 people and the hike is not appropriate for children under six years. For information, including times or to make reservations, please call (865) 992-5523.
The heavily forested, 3,687-acre park lies on the southern shore of TVA's Norris Reservoir approximately 25 miles north of Knoxville. Visitors to the park will find a wealth of activities to meet any interest from guided nature tours to backcountry camping. Big Ridge State Park was one of five demonstration parks developed by the Tennessee Valley Authority in cooperation with the National Park Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps as an example of public recreation development along TVA lakeshores. The structures on the park reflect the craftsmanship and stonework of the CCC. Other notable features of the park include the Norton Gristmill built in 1825, remnants of Sharp's Station Fort construction in the late 1700s, and Indian Rock where a plaque commemorates the death of Peter Graves, a settler of Sharp's Station who was attacked by Indians at this spot. For more information about Big Ridge State Park, please visit www.tnstateparks/BigRidge.
Cove Lake State Park
Join Cove Lake State Park on Saturday, Oct. 1, for its 5th Annual Louie Bluie Music and Arts Festival. This all-day event will include three stages, featuring a variety of music from Blues to Gospel. There will be storytelling, a Kid's Fun Zone, and art and handmade crafts will be sold in the Craft Village. A Quilt Show will be held in the park’s Recreation Center. Regional food vendors will be on hand, serving an array of authentic Southern cooking – East Tennessee style. The Louie Bluie Festival is named in honor of Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong (1909-2003), an internationally acclaimed string band musician who grew up in LaFollette in the 1920s and became one of the nation's finest string band musicians, as well as artist, storyteller and writer. Donations of $2 per person or $5 per family are encouraged and funds will help the Campbell Culture Coalition, an all-volunteer non-profit community arts organization. For more information about this event, please call (423) 566-9701.
Located in Caryville, Cove Lake State Park's 673 acres are situated in a beautiful mountain valley setting on the eastern edge of the Cumberland Mountains. There are scenic nature trails and bike trails leading through the open grasslands and woodlands. In the winter, several hundred Canada Geese make this lakeshore their feeding ground. Nearby is the Devil's Race Track whose steep pinnacle rock affords a panoramic view. For more information about the upcoming park activities, please call the park office at (423) 566-9701 or visit: www.tnstateparks.com/CoveLake.
Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park
Join Sycamore Shoals on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 1-2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily for the annual Fort Watauga Knap-In. Knapping is the art of making stone tools, and the Knap-In at Fort Watauga is an opportunity to learn more about these primitive skills – watching artisans craft arrowheads, spear points and other survival tools. There will be demonstrations of primitive tools such as the bow, arrow and atlatl throughout the day. For more information call (423) 543-5808.
Sycamore Shoals will host the 17th Annual Quilt Show this weekend. Through Sunday, Oct. 2, this quilt exhibition is sponsored by the Sycamore Shoals Stitchers and features a show and demonstrations by local quilters. Bed quilts, wall hangings, holiday and baby quilts, miniatures and antique quilts will be on display in the park museum. For more information call (423) 543-5808.
Sycamore Shoals will hold two Bird Walks – Saturday, Oct. 1 and Saturday, Oct. 8. Join Tennessee Ornithological Society members, Lee and Lois Herndon, other birders and naturalists at 8 a.m. for a morning of birding during the migratory season. For more information, please call (423) 543-5808.
Sycamore Shoals also will host a variety of Traditional Arts Workshops throughout the month of October, including step-by-step oil painting, intermediate spinning and shape-note singing. Traditional Arts Workshops are by registration only and must be pre-paid. For complete schedules or to make a workshop reservation, please call (423) 543-5808.
Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park attracts more than 305,000 people every year. The 85-acre site sits on the banks of the Watauga River where the Overmountain Men assembled in 1780 before marching to defeat the British in the Battle of Kings Mountain, a turning point in the Revolutionary War. The park features interpretive exhibits, events, a fitness trail and picnic facilities. It is located off U.S. Highway 321 in Elizabethton. Additional information about the park can be found on the park’s Web site at www.tnstateparks.com/SycamoreShoals.
Fort Loudoun State Park
Join Fort Loudoun on Saturday and Sunday, October 8-9, for a Garrison Weekend – when the daily lives of men, women and children of Fort Loudoun are recreated. Guests will find living history re-enactors in period costume, bringing the 1750s to life and demonstrating a variety of tasks and skills common to a frontier fortification including musket firing demonstrations, an 18th century infirmary, the Commanders quarters and an 18th century Cherokee camp. For more information, please call (423) 884-6217.
Fort Loudoun State Historic Area is a 1,200-acre site on the location of one of the earliest British fortifications on the western frontier, built in 1756. Nearby were the principle towns of the Cherokee Nation including Tenase, namesake of our state, and Tuskegee, birthplace of Sequoyah. Today the fort and the 1794 Tellico Blockhouse overlook TVA's Tellico Reservoir and the Appalachian Mountains. For more information about the park, please visit www.tnstateparks.com/FortLoudoun.
Roan Mountain State Park
Roan Mountain State Park’s annual Autumn Harvest will be held Saturday, October 8. Celebrate the coming of autumn and the beautiful fall foliage of the Appalachian mountains during this traditional festival. Guests can take a step back in time at the historic Miller Farmstead for demonstrations of old-time skills such as basket weaving, soapmaking, cornmeal grinding, spinning, flint knapping, and more. There will be homemade ice cream, beans and cornbread, and caramel apples to enjoy, as well as various crafts available for purchase. The festivities will take place at Roan Mountain State Park's Miller Farmstead from noon to 4 p.m. Contact Ranger Jacob Young for more information at (423) 772-0190 or Jacob.Young@tn.gov.
Roan Mountain State Park encompasses 2,006 acres of southern Appalachian forest at the base of 6,285-foot Roan Mountain. Park elevation ranges from 3,000 feet in the valley to around 3,700 feet on surrounding ridges. Rich hardwood forests allow for a great diversity of life and a wide range of outdoor activities. Park guests have opportunities to hike along creeks and ridges, fish for trout, play tennis, swim, tour a century old farmhouse, join rangers and naturalists for educational programs and enjoy mountain music concerts. For additional information about Roan Mountain State Park, please visit the park’s Web site at www.tnstateparks.com/RoanMtn.
Cumberland Trail State Park
Cumberland Trail State Park will host the inaugural Hiketoberfest on Sunday, Oct. 9. Join the Friends of the Cumberland Trail for this celebration of the Cumberland Trail's immense diversity of fauna and flora, its rich musical and cultural heritage, and the breathtaking geology of Signal Mountain, the Cumberland Plateau and the Tennessee River Gorge. The event is from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. at the Shackleford Ridge County Park facility in Signal Mountain just outside of Chattanooga. In addition to guided hikes on 12 miles of trail, the event will offer storytelling, history, good music, food and fun. Registration is $15 (kids 12 and under free and must be accompanied by a registered adult). All proceeds help support the Friends of the Cumberland Trail. For more information and to register, go to www.friendsofthecumberlandtrail.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
On June 22, 1998, Tennessee State Parks announced the creation of the Cumberland Trail State Park, Tennessee's 53rd state park and the state’s only linear park. The Cumberland Trail wanders among the remnants of the Cumberland Mountains that once rose as high as the Rockies. The trail represented a barrier to all who dared push through storied gaps westward onto and over the Cumberland Plateau. It now provides a linkage north to south, forming natural connections and opportunities for scenic vistas and curious geological formations. Upon completion, the Cumberland Trail will be 300 miles, cutting through 11 Tennessee counties from the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park on the Tennessee-Virginia-Kentucky border to the Signal Point near Chattanooga. More than 150 miles of the Cumberland Trail is currently open and ready for exploration. For additional information about the park, please visit www.tnstateparks.com/cumberlandtrail.
Red Clay State Park
Red Clay State Park will host its Third Annual Pow Wow Friday through Sunday, Oct. 21-23, featuring traditional Native American dance, food and arts. Activities will begin at 9 a.m. each day. The festival is open to the public. Sponsored by the Friends of Red Clay and the Native American Services of Tennessee, the event will include traditional dancers, storytelling, living history demonstrations and more. In addition to musicians and dancers, the festival will feature craftspeople selling their wares and handicrafts at various vendor booths, along with a number of games and activities for the whole family.
While admission to the event is free, there is a $5 parking fee per vehicle or motorcycle on Saturday and Sunday. Friday, Oct. 21, will be a School Day, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. and designed for all students, teachers and school faculty members. Reservations for schools are recommended. There is a $2 activity fee per child on Friday, with adult admission free. For information or assistance regarding fees, please call Red Clay’s park office at (423) 478-0339.
Live performances will be held throughout the three-day event, with Jeff Whaley serving as the master of ceremonies and Jimmy Reedy as the arena director. Special performances this year include the Tlaltlacayolotl Aztec fire dancers and the Poarch Band Creek Stomp Dancers. Grand entry performances are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 1 p.m. All warriors will serve as Honor Guard, and there will be a daily Host Drum, Head Man and Head Lady. Native American arts and crafts will be demonstrated and sold both days. Traditional and festival foods also will be available, along with some old favorites. Park visitors should bring a blanket or chairs, along with sunscreen and protective shades. Cash is accepted for purchases, with some booths accepting personal checks.
Red Clay State Historic Park is located in the extreme southwest corner of Bradley County, just above the Tennessee-Georgia state line, and is the site of 11 of the last 12 Cherokee Council meetings before the infamous Trail of Tears. The park encompasses 263 acres of narrow valley and forested ridges and features picnic facilities, a loop trail and amphitheater. The park also contains a natural landmark, the Blue Hole Spring, which arises from beneath a limestone ledge to form a deep pool that flows into Mill Creek. The Cherokee used the Blue Hole Spring as their water supply during council meetings. For more information about the park, please visit www.tnstateparks.com/RedClay/.
Tennessee's 53 state parks offer diverse natural, recreational and cultural experiences for individuals, families, or business and professional groups. State park features range from pristine natural areas to 18-hole championship golf courses. For a free brochure about Tennessee State Parks, call toll free 1-888-867-2757. For additional information, visit our web site at www.tnstateparks.com.