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Tennessee State Parks gear up for spring hikes

Tennessee State Parks have scheduled guided Spring Hikes throughout the state for park visitors who want to put winter behind and enjoy the outdoors. Most of the hikes are scheduled Saturday, March 19.

Old Stone Fort park ranger Eric Collins will host a spring hike. Those wishing to go can meet at the top of the museum. The hike will be from 3-4:30 p.m. For questions, contact Collins at eric.l.collins@tn.gov.

Tims Ford State Park will also have a spring hike with ranger Mark Matzkiw from 9-11 a.m. For more information, contact Matzkiw at mark.matzkiw@tn.gov.

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A full schedule of the hikes at specific parks is available at this link<https://tnstateparks.com/about/special-events/spring-hikes/>.

“We know how eager our parks visitors may be to explore the parks when the weather gets warm, and these popular hikes are a great option,”  Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said. “We have outstanding guides for each hike. Everyone will have a great experience.”

The hikes range from short trail walks to more adventurous all-day excursions. Guides will speak along the way to the natural, cultural and historical aspects of the surroundings.

The hikes offer a variety of choices. Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park, for example, features a hike along the historic Ocoee River. Big Ridge State Park will take hikers on the Ghost House Trail, where haunting tales of former residents are told, appropriate for ages 8 and above. Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park will hold a Spring Water Hike, where the group departs by kayak from Eva Beach, and kayaks will be provided. At Fort Pillow State Historic Park, park staff will guide a stroll along the Blue Trail atop the first Chickasaw Bluff, with discussions of Fort Pillow and the bluff during the Civil War.

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Hikers are encouraged to wear appropriate footwear, dress for the weather and bring water.

The Spring Hikes are the second of the parks’ annual Signature Hikes, which began with the First Day Hike on Jan. 1, and will be followed by National Trails Day Hikes on June 4 and After-Thanksgiving Hikes on Nov. 25.

Park visitors are also invited to donate or volunteer at a park to help provide quality programs and services, such as new trails, care for birds of prey, and playground equipment. Donations are accepted online at this link<https://reserve.tnstateparks.com/donate>.

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