By Tamas Mondovics
As the weather breaks and brings warmer temperatures to the region, officials zero in on promoting the large variety of local outdoor, recreational possibilities loaded with amenities found in Tennessee’s 56 State Parks.Officials recently announced that free, guided hikesstatewide are once again scheduled this year on Saturday, March 24.A pair of nearby state parks includes Elk Knob, and Roan Mountain, although there is no shortage of beautiful trails around.
According to park officials, the free event is designed to highlight the amenities and programming available during one of Tennessee’s most beautiful seasons.
“Our Rangers are trained to share the rich history of Tennessee’s public lands in a way that excites the imagination and leaves you wanting more,” said Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill.Park Rangers are promising to lead guided hikes throughout the day that takevisitors past scenic vistas, budding wildflowers, and roaring waterfalls. Hikes are
scheduled to range from short; family-friendly walks to adventurous, all-day endeavors through a park’s most remote stretches.
Other statewide hikes Tennessee State Parks offers include National Trails Day in June, National Public Lands Day in September, After Thanksgiving Hikes in November and First Day Hikes in January.
The start of the 2018 camping season on Thursday, March 15, also marks the opening of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) seasonal campgrounds, which are now ready and waiting for visitors to return to the outdoors.
TVA reportedly provides more than 80 public recreation areas managed by Recreation Resource Management LLC, including campgrounds, day-use areas and boat ramps across the Tennessee Valley.
The six TVA campgrounds in its dam reservations are: Cherokee Dam – Cherokee Reservoir in Jefferson City, Tenn; Douglas Dam Headwater – Douglas Reservoir near Sevierville, Tenn.; Douglas Dam Tailwater – Douglas Reservoir near Sevierville, Tenn.; Melton Hill Dam – Melton Hill Reservoir near Lenoir City, Tenn. Pickwick Dam – Pickwick Reservoir near Savannah, Tenn. And the Watauga Dam – Watauga Reservoir near Elizabethton, Tenn.
Judging by the numbers, there is little doubt about the campgrounds’ popularity especially since last year’s renovations and upgrades such as new online reservation systems and renovated restrooms.
The six TVA campgrounds hosted over 75,000 overnight stays in 2017 at a total of 355 campsites, most capable of accommodating tents, pop-up trailers, and recreational vehicles, TVA officials said.
As a word of caution, even as many are ready to put the gloom and doom of the colder, wet, winter days behind them, imported firewood can introduce insects that kill trees. To prevent the spread of these destructive pests, TVA recommends buying firewood that is cut locally, preferably within the same county where it will be burned.
For more information about TVA and its 84-year mission of service to the Tennessee Valley, visit www.tva.com.
For a full list of all planned hikes on March 24, visit www.tnstateparks.com/about/special-events/spring-hikes.