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/


Waterfowl WMA Application Deadline Approaching

Applications will be accepted until midnight (CDT) on Wednesday, Sept. 28 for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s 2016 Wildlife Management Area waterfowl hunts. A computerized drawing system will be held to select successful applicants based on the priority drawing system. Hunters may apply at any TWRA license agent, at any TWRA regional office, or online at www.tnwildlife.org ... (click for more)

Outdoor Chattanooga News And Events

Here are upcoming news and events from Outdoor Chattanooga: NPS Guided Canoe Tour of Lookout Creek September 27 You're invited to join Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park and Outdoor Chattanooga for a free, family friendly guided canoe tour with a ranger on Tuesday, September 27, at 5:30 pm. The Friends of Moccasin Bend and the Friends of Outdoor Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Highway 58 Man Charged In Fatal Hit And Run In Dayton, Tn.

A Highway 58 man has been arrested in connection with a fatal hit and run of a Rhea County man.   Walter Hale was badly injured and later died after he was struck in Dayton.   Authorities were led to Douglas Edward Alvey, 52, through video from the We Care business in Dayton, where the 60-year-old victim worked.   After officers with the Dayton ... (click for more)

Man, 78, Found Dead With Gunshot Wound To The Chest At Residence On Central Avenue

A 78-year-old man has been found dead with a gunshot wound to the chest at a residence on Central Avenue. Chattanooga Police were called to the 1900 block of Central Avenue on Thursday at 10:08 a.m. Upon arrival, Chattanooga Police officers located George Garth deceased. At this time there is no suspect information available. Chattanooga Violent Crimes Bureau investigators ... (click for more)

Patrol Cars Donation To Kevin Muhammad's Nation Of Islam Sets A Dangerous Precedent

Re: City Police donating two patrol cars to Kevin Muhammad's Nation of Islam: While I know it's unpopular to mention the wisdom of separation of church and state, this sets a dangerous precedent and should meet with concern from everyone who values religious and secular freedom. What's next? Southern Baptists getting old city parking scooters to patrol church parking lots ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Thanks A Lot For Nothing

Somebody should have gotten an award last Tuesday when a 90-minute “education summit” involving our school leaders, politicians and media produced absolutely nothing. Zilch. Zero. Oh, there are a number of candidates we could give an award for “nothing,” both in our school district and on its fringes. Yet to find Tennessee Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen brought her high-and-mighty ... (click for more)