by Joan Greene
“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.” Yoko Ono
There is something about the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the longest night, that marks the true beginning of winter for me. Winter offers peace and a respite from the bright heat of summer and the frantic gathering of autumn’s harvest. There is a beauty and spirituality about a frozen waterfall, bare trees, and white snow covered paths in the forest. I love seeing the occasional bright red cardinal juxtaposed against barren branches.
With that in mind, I thought I would highlight some places to enjoy a walk in nature during the winter months in Tennessee. The Tennessee Naturalist Program has eleven chapters across the state. Each of our chapters offer a variety of hiking experiences. Go to TNP’s website to find the location of each Chapter. This is a link. https://tnnaturalist.org/chapters/
The following list is an example of the spectacular trails and places to hike and observe nature in Tennessee. For more resources click the links below: https://tnstateparks.com/about/find-a-parkhttps://www.alltrails.com/us/tennessee
Frozen Head State Park is at the peak of the Cumberland Mountains where in winter the mountains are covered in snow and ice. https://tnstateparks.com/parks/frozen-head
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America’s most visited National Park. Here you will have panoramic views and many trails to explore. https://www.nps.gov/grsm/index.htm
Foster Falls Recreation Area is considered one of the most scenic wild areas in Tennessee. You can experience frozen waterfalls and a suspension bridge. This recreation area is considered to be one of the top 25 trails in the country. https://rootsrated.com/chattanooga-tn/hiking/foster-falls-and-fiery-gizzardhttps://rootsrated.com/chattanooga-tn/hiking/foster-falls-and-fiery-gizzard
Long Hunter State Park offers a variety of levels for everyone from the adventuresome to those of us who just want to stroll on paved trails. https://tnstateparks.com/parks/long-hunter
Reelfoot Lake State Park is known for the submerged cypress trees. Bring your camera as the frozen cypress trees make for great photos. They host an Eagle Festival each year in February. https://tnstateparks.com/parks/reelfoot-lake
Radnor Lake State Natural Area is just outside of downtown Nashville. The Radnor Lake Loop meanders around the lake and offers year-round spectacular views of nature and wildlife. https://tnstateparks.com/parks/radnor-lake
Sewanee Perimeter Trail is a gem that is tucked away in the heart of the state. Here you can hike to the State of Tennessee’s only natural bridge. https://www.alltrails.com/us/tennessee/sewanee
Consider ushering in the new year by taking a hike. Check out the many “First Day Hikes” sponsored by Tennessee State Parks. They are free and available across Tennessee. Click here to find one near you. https://tnstateparks.com/about/special-events/first-day-hikes/