State Natural Areas Program Offers Two Mid-Winter Hikes In Middle Tennessee On Jan. 26

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Department of Environment and Conservation’s Division of Natural Areas will host two guided day hikes at Middle Tennessee natural areas on Saturday, Jan. 26, including excursions to Short Springs in Coffee County and Virgin Falls in White County. 

Short Springs State Natural Area Hike

Tennessee State Parks Area Manager Robin Wooten will take hikers on a three-mile hike via Busby Falls, Adams Falls and Machine Falls Loop trails. The trails have many ups and downs, creek crossings and beautiful waterfalls so hikers should be prepared for a slower-paced hike with gorgeous scenery. Following the main excursion, there will be an optional 1.5-mile Laurel Bluff Loop Trail hike.  Participants should meet at 10 a.m. at the Short Springs State Natural Area trailhead parking lot, located approximately 3.5 miles northeast of Tullahoma. 

“Short Springs is an impressive area with biological diversity and breathtaking waterfalls,” Manager Wooten said. “It is a great area for hikers that want to burn some winter energy in a beautiful setting.”

Short Springs State Natural Area’s biological diversity includes rich forest slopes and ravines, low cascades, springs and waterfalls.  The Upper and Lower Busby Falls on Bobo Creek are two prominent cascading waterfalls that can be seen from overlooks on the Bobo Creek Trail. The steep escarpment, with its numerous wet-weather seeps, is particularly impressive during the moist winter and spring months.

Hikers should arrive dressed for the weather. In addition to wearing layers of clothing and sturdy boots, participants should also bring lunch and plenty of water. Reservations are required by January 24 and can be made by contacting Robin Wooten at 931 239-0065 or at Robin.Wooten@tn.gov.    

Short Springs is a 420-acre natural area located in Coffee County, approximately 3.5 miles northeast of Tullahoma. This natural area provides an excellent contrast between Highland Rim and Central Basin geology and vegetation. Thickets of mountain laurel grow on the upper slopes under a dry oak-hickory forest canopy that is characteristic of Highland Rim vegetation. The lower slopes and riparian areas along Bobo Creek support towering sycamore, buckeye, magnolia, beech and tulip poplar trees with a rich shrub layer and herbaceous cover.  For information about Short Springs, including a map of the area, please visit http://www.tn.gov/environment/na/natareas/shortspr/.   

Hikers interested in nearby camping or lodging should consider Old Stone Fort or Tims Ford state parks for overnight accommodations.  Please visit www.tnstateparks.com for additional details. 

Virgin Falls State Natural Area Hike

Stewardship Ecologist Forrest Evans will take hikers on a journey through the scenic beauty of one of Tennessee’s best-loved hiking trails. The strenuous eight-mile trail to the falls descends off of the Plateau and meanders along a creek, passing caves, sinks and waterfalls.

Hikers will have lunch at the falls, which offers remarkable views.  The trail then backtracks up and out of the gulf to the parking area. Participants should meet at 7:30 a.m. at the Nashville Kroger parking lot located at 5544 Old Hickory Boulevard (near Summit Medical Center) in Hermitage. Participants will carpool and caravan to the trail head. 

“Virgin Falls’ forests and geologic features make it one of the state’s favorite destinations and a great place for a winter hike,” Mr. Evans said. “This strenuous backcountry hiking trip involves negotiating difficult trail situations and hikers should be in good physical condition.”

Hikers should arrive dressed for the weather. In addition to wearing layers of clothing and sturdy boots, participants should bring lunch and plenty of water. Reservations are required by January 25 and can be made by contacting Forrest Evans at 615 532-0431 or Forrest.Evans@tn.gov.  Consult a weather report before the trip, as the hike will be canceled in the event of rain or predicted rain.

Virgin Falls is a 1,157-acre natural area located adjacent to the Bridgestone Firestone Centennial Wilderness in White County. The natural area is named for Virgin Falls, which is formed by an underground stream that emerges from a cave, and then drops over a 110-foot high cliff before disappearing into another cave at the bottom of the sink. The area is noted for its unique geological features and several other waterfalls including Big Laurel, Sheep Cave Falls and Big Branch Falls. The deep gorges are heavily wooded and are ecologically diverse supporting various aged second growth mixed mesophytic and oak-hickory forest.  For information about Virgin Falls, including a map of the area, please visit http://www.tn.gov/environment/na/natareas/virgin/.     

Hikers interested in overnight accommodations are encouraged to contact Cumberland Mountain or Fall Creek Falls state parks, which offer a variety of choices.  Please visit www.tnstateparks.com for additional details.

More information about Tennessee’s natural areas program, including a complete list of all natural areas, is available at www.tn.gov/environment/na/


TFWC September Meeting To Be Held In Nashville

The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission will take action on changes in the commercial fishing proclamation among its agenda at its Sept. 18-19 meeting. The commission will hold its September meeting at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Region II Ray Bell Building. Committee meetings will start at 1 p.m. on Sept. 18, while formal session is Sept. 19, beginning at 9 ... (click for more)

Application Period Underway For WMA Waterfowl Hunts

The application period for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s 2014 Wildlife Management Area waterfowl hunts is now underway. The application period will be accepted until midnight (CDT) Oct. 1. A computerized drawing system will be held to selected successful applicants based on the priority drawing system. Applications will be accepted until midnight Oct. 1.   ... (click for more)

Sewell Says City, EPB "Close" On Amount Owed By Utility To City On Street Light Overbilling

City Internal Auditor Stan Sewell told City Council members on Tuesday that EPB and the city are "close" on the amount owed by the utility to the city on street light overbilling. Mr. Sewell said the city computed the amount at about $1.2 million, while he said EPB's auditing firm, Mauldin and Jenkins, has it at $1.5 million for an 89-month period that was audited. Mr. Sewell ... (click for more)

City Council Votes 5-4 On New Process For Naming IDB Members

The City Council voted Tuesday night 5-4 to set up a new process for naming members to the Industrial Development Board (IDB), which currently has four vacancies. The process includes three City Council panels: A (Districts 1, 2, 3), B (Districts 4, 5, 6), and C (Districts 7, 8, 9). Group A will fill two of the vacancies and Groups B and C one each. Agreement ... (click for more)

Candidates Should State Facts, Not Fiction

At a recent forum for candidates for the Signal Mountain Town Council, one candidate, Mr. Chris Howley, discussed a number of issues and presented “facts” using incorrect or misleading statements.   Here are several issues that should be clarified: 1.       On the road up the mountain:   “I called TDOT.   I talked to Ken Flynn.   ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: I’m Certainly No Expert

Sometime on Monday night, after I had written a piece on getting swatted with a switch as a kid, I got an email from ESPN Canada asking if I would be a televised guest on “Off the Record,” the most watched daily sports show in Canada. The subject: corporal punishment in America. Are you kidding me? I am hardly an expert. All weekend my world of sports and its excitement was warped ... (click for more)