Parks kick off 2017 with free hikes

Fall Creek Falls. Photo/State of Tennessee
Fall Creek Falls. Photo/State of Tennessee

UPPER CUMBERLAND – Tennessee State Parks will ring in the New Year with sponsored free, guided hikes at 10 Upper Cumberland locations beginning Dec. 31, and going throughout the day on Jan. 1.

Tennessee State Parks’ First Day Hikes are part of America’s State Parks First Day hikes initiative in all 50 states. Participating regional parks include Burgess Falls, Cordell Hull Birthplace, Cumberland Mountain, Cummins Falls, Edgar Evins, Fall Creek Falls, Pickett CCC Memorial, Rock Island, Sgt. Alvin C. York State Historic Park and Standing Stone State Park.

“Our first day hikes are our most popular annual guided event statewide,” Deputy Commissioner for Parks and Conservation Brock Hill said in a release. “It’s a great way to start your New Year’s resolutions and see the wonder of our state during this beautiful season.”

While some of the hikes will be throughout New Year’s Day at various times, others will begin on Dec. 31 and go in to the New Year. Some hikes will be approximately one mile in length and tailored for novice hikers, while others are lengthier and more strenuous.

Schedules and events are subject to change – contact the park or hike leader for more information or to confirm events.


Burgess Falls State Park, Sparta

First Day River Trail Hike

9–10 a.m. Jan. 1

Park Manager Bill Summers will lead a 1.5-mile hike on the River Trail to the main waterfall overlook. This hike is moderate in difficulty and suitable for both adults and children.

Meet at Burgess Falls State Park Main Trailhead


Cordell Hull Birthplace State Park, Byrdstown

First Day Hike

1–2:30 p.m. Jan. 1

Kick off 2017 with a family friendly hike to the Bunkum Cave overlook. We will discuss the history of Bunkum Cave. This hike is rated at level two; sturdy shoes and a drink are recommended. All ages welcome.

Meet at Bunkum Cave Trailhead


Cumberland Mountain State Park, Crossville

First Day Hike – Byrd Creek Trail

10–11:30 a.m. Jan. 1

Meet at the park office for a brisk and chilly trek on the Byrd Creek Trail. This hike is just over two miles and considered moderate. All ages welcome. Hike will end at the birds of prey aviary where you can see feathery friends up close and personal. Bring water and wear sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing.

Meet at Cumberland Mountain State Park Office


Cummins Falls State Park, Cookeville

Experience the Wonder

10–11:45 a.m. Jan. 1

See the beauty that is Cummins Falls and the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River. Walk through the rolling terrain as we learn of the history, what is happening now and of plans for tomorrow. This hike is 2.5 miles and will be moderate in difficulty. Ranger-led hike open to all ages.

Meet at Cummins Fall State Park parking lot by the kiosk


Edgar Evins State Park, Silver Point

First Day Hike and Feast

10 a.m.–1 p.m. Jan. 1

Bring a dish to share as we celebrate the New Year. Hikers will meet at the picnic shelters to sign in and drop off food. We will then head over to the Millennium trail head for a 2.5 mile moderate hike. Hikers will enjoy interesting park history and beautiful views of Center Hill Lake. After the hike, we will meet back at the shelters for a potluck feast. We will also celebrate the birthday of our park’s name sake, J. Edgar Evins.

Meet at the picnic shelters area near the Edgar Evins State Park Marina parking lot


Fall Creek Falls State Park, Spencer

First Day Winter Waterfalls Hike

1–4 p.m. Jan. 1

A challenging three-mile hike to the base of Fall Creek Falls and back up to the Nature Center. Dress in layers appropriate for the forecast, and bring water and a snack. This hike is open to all ages. Call the Nature Center at (423) 881-5708 to sign up or for more information


Pickett CCC Memorial State Park, Jamestown

New Year’s Eve Hike

9 p.m.– 1 a.m. Dec. 31-Jan. 1

A night of astronomy and hiking. The Friends of Pickett State Park will have a potluck dinner at group camp. There will also be an astronomy program in the ball field. At 11 p.m., we will hike our way into 2017. This hike will be an easy 3 miles and all ages are welcome.

Meet at Pickett CCC Memorial State Park Group Camp


Rock Island State Park, Rock Island

Downstream First Day Hike

8–10 a.m. Jan. 1

We will hike the Downstream Trail. We will start out at our largest waterfall, then follow the bluff along the river to overlooks and streams. This is a 1.7-mile moderate hike with a few stairs and narrow sections. Wear sturdy shoes and bring water. This hike is suitable for adults and kids.

Meet at Twin Falls overlook at the end of Powerhouse Road


Sgt. Alvin C. York State Historic Park, Pall Mall

WWI Trench Stroll

9–10:30 a.m. Jan. 1

Join the staff at Sgt. Alvin C. York State Historic Park and stroll through the WWI replica trench on the farm. As we tour the trench, we will discuss the heroic actions of Alvin York on Oct. 8, 1918, that would make him the most famous solider of WWI life.

Meet at Sgt. Alvin C. York State Historic Park Visitor Center


Standing Stone State Park, Hilham

First Day Hike

9–10 a.m. Jan. 1

Come enjoy nature of Standing Stone State Park! The first hike of the New Year will be a 1.25-mile hike along the beautiful Kelly Lake. This is a moderately difficult hike, open to both adults and children.

Meet at Standing Stone State Park Office


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