Tellico Wild: A Weekend Of Wilderness In The Cherokee National Forest

Monday, July 28, 2014
Tennessee Wild is hosting a weekend of free outdoor activities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Wilderness Act of 1964, and to support protecting special forest places while promoting the Tellico Region and Cherokee National Forest as the ideal destination for outdoor recreation in the southeast.  

Come learn more about a key effort to protect special places in Tennessee. The Tennessee Wilderness Act, currently awaiting a Senate vote, will safeguard nearly 20,000 acres of public land, expanding the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock, Big Frog, Little Frog, Big Laurel Branch, and Sampson Mountain wilderness areas and creating the new 9,000-acre Upper Bald River Wilderness Area.
   Wilderness designation ensures clean drinking water for communities downstream, protects critical habitat for the abundant species of fish and wildlife of the forest, and offers first class outdoor recreation opportunities that are vital to the prosperity of small towns like Tellico Plains. And, it costs the American taxpayer nothing.

To celebrate the forest, the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, and to get people active outdoors, Tennessee Wild invites the public to join it for guided hikes into designated wilderness areas, or give a little back to public lands on a trail crew for a stewardship project. Learn about the diverse flora and fauna of the forest on an interpretive hike or while snorkeling with expert USFS guides in Citico Creek. Get the hang of Stand Up Paddleboarding, learn to take better pictures with your point and shoot or smartphone - or - just take a deep breath and enjoy some time in the great outdoors - all free of charge

Saturday, Aug. 9, will be a fun-filled day of outdoor activities that culminates in the ceremonial dedication of Tellico Plains as an official “Trail Town” by the Southeastern Foot Trails Coalition (SEFTC) and the Benton MacKaye Trail Association (BMTA). Guest speakers, and the ribbon cutting followed by food, music and great prizes!  More hikes, snorkeling, and other events are scheduled for Sunday, as well.

Date: Saturday, Aug. 9 and Sunday, Aug. 10
Time:  9:00am
Location: Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center, Tellico Plains, TN

All participants meet at the Visitor Center then carpool to the various trail heads.

* Due to group size limits, free registration at www.meetup.com/Tennessee-Wild is a must.
Saturday, Aug. 9
Guided Hikes:
•    Unicoi Turnpike Trail - Coker Creek - 2.5 miles, Rated Easy  
Walk through history on the oldest known travel path in the country. Part of the Trail of Tears during the removal of the Cherokee people in the 1800’s, then the first toll road in America, hikers will walk where thousands have walked before.

•    Brookshire Creek - Upper Bald River WSA - 5 miles RT, Rated Easy  
Hike along the crystal clear Bald River about 2.4 miles to a 'yet to be named' 15 ft. waterfall. This trail is in the Upper Bald River Wilderness Study Area. When the Tennessee Wilderness Act is passed, it will be the first new wilderness created in Tennessee since 1986, and will protect the entire Bald River Watershed.  

•    Sycamore Creek - Benton MacKaye Trail - 4 miles - Rated Easy
Hike with local historian Pam Hall Matthews with plenty of stops along the way to admire the cascades of beautiful Sycamore Creek. Pam will talk about local legend and lore, and then the group will pay a visit to the Charles Hall museum for a personal tour by Charles himself.

•    Family Fun Hike for Big and Little Kids Alike! - Rated Easy
Enjoying nature as a family is a great way to instill a sense of wonder and curiosity in all of us. Experience nature using all your senses and discover the great outdoors with naturalist Ben Prater of Wild South, and his sons (ages 3 and 5) on a fun filled adventure in the forest.

Interpretive Hikes:
•    Mosses, Liverworts, and Hornworts - Rated Moderate/Strenuous
Discover the miniature plants that blanket the forest floor, rocks and trees. Learn to recognize these three prolific groups and different species of each. Experienced naturalists as well as those just curious about this fascinating world are welcome.

•    Old Growth Forest - Falls Branch Falls/Jeffrey Hell trails
Hike leader Hugh Irwin of The Wilderness Society will take us down the path of forest history while exploring the remaining old growth trees of the Citico Creek Wilderness; talking about the logging history and the devastating fire that ended this chapter and scars on the landscape that are still apparent today.

Stewardship Trip - Brushing Jeffrey’s Hell - 4 miles RT - Rated Moderate/Strenuous
This stewardship day led by SAWS - Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards will involve brushing annual vegetation growth from the trail corridor along the first two miles of the Jeffrey Hell Trail. Tools, safety instruction and personal protective equipment will be provided.

Stand Up Paddleboarding 101 - Indian Boundary Lake with Rock/Creek
Learn the basics of SUP! - Standup Paddleboarding with a skilled instructor from Rock/Creek, Chattanooga. You'll learn how to get up on the board, more importantly... STAY on the board and then do some basic paddling maneuvers on beautiful Indian Boundary Lake.  All equipment and instruction is furnished by our friends at Rock/Creek. Beginners Welcome!
Tellico Plains Trail Town Designation Ceremony - 5:30pm - Outpost Pavilion Tent, Cherohala Skyway, Tellico Plains, TN
Join us for the official ribbon cutting ceremony and designation of Tellico Plains as an official Trail Town by the Southeastern Foot Trails Coalition and the Benton MacKaye Trail Association. Then enjoy some food, music, great prizes and lots of fun.

Sunday, Aug. 10
Guided Hikes:
•    Bald River Gorge - 9 miles- Rated Moderate
One of the most scenic trails in the area was once a railroad track for trains which hauled out the huge logs down to Tellico Plains during the early logging days. Now this beautiful gorge is protected as designated Wilderness, and the trees having regrown over the past 100 years since the last logging occurred are wonderous.
•    Mill Branch-Fodderstack-Crowder Branch Loop - 7 miles, Rated Strenuous
This hike shows off two beautiful valleys of the Citico Creek Wilderness while also including a high ridge walk of over a mile, a nice cross-section of Southern Appalachian Wilderness.
•    Simply Better Pictures - Tips, Tricks and Techniques , Rated Easy
No need for fancy equipment! This guided hike will have you taking better pictures with your point-and-shoot or smartphone in no time. We'll explore simple tips and techniques that will turn your snapshots into photos that you’ll be proud to share.

Stand Up Paddleboarding 101 - Indian Boundary Lake with Rock/Creek
Learn the basics of SUP! - Standup Paddleboarding with a skilled instructor from Rock/Creek, Chattanooga. You'll learn how to get up on the board, more importantly... STAY on the board and then do some basic paddling maneuvers on beautiful Indian Boundary Lake.  All equipment and instruction is furnished by our friends at Rock/Creek. Beginners Welcome!
Snorkel Citico Creek - Citico Creek is one of the most biologically rich temperate creeks in the USA. It contains more species of fish than the entire Colorado River watershed! We’ll explore the chilly water with wetsuit, snorkel and mask provided by the Forest Service. Expert guides will show you many species of fish, turtles, amphibians and other critters that live in mountain rivers and creeks.

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