Get active this Spring Break with these Tennessee outdoor activities
Turn those clocks forward! Daylight Savings Time is this weekend and that means longer (and warmer) days are finally ahead. After being cooped up indoors with ice and snow storms, it’s time to stretch your legs, breathe in some fresh air and have an active Spring Break. Here are some of my picks for the best ways to soak up some adventure across Tennessee.
East Tennessee has impressive landscape as the Great Smoky Mountains rise above the horizon to offer, not only spectacular views, but an assortment of hiking trail options for visitors. One of these hiking trails is Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the highest point in Tennessee. It’s the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi. You can see views that stretch out for more than 100 miles on a clear day. Embark on the seven miles to the end of the Clingmans Dome Road where ridges and valleys offer great scenic pullouts for photo ops or just a quick rest. A steep, paved 0.5 trail leads to the summit for a respite that includes some rewarding scenic views.
Get ready to experience fantastic panoramic views as you hike Alum Cave Trail to Mt. LeConte. This trail is classified as a “classic hike” in the national park with its history, thrills, views and geological treasures. Hike the 5.5 miles, climbing an impressive 2,763 feet. The hike starts off gentle enough to Arch Rock, which hikers go under via several steps before exiting at the top. Check out Alum Cave at the 2.2-mile mark, which is actually a concaved bluff. Rock ledges, a spruce-fir forest and, finally, sweeping views once you reach the top of the mountain. Mt. LeConte is arguably the tallest mountain in the Eastern United States.
Middle Tennessee is home to great horse experiences riders of all levels and ages can enjoy. Whether it’s a ride that lasts an hour, all day or is a multiple-day excursion, the region has some fun ways to get you mounted up and exploring Tennessee from the back of a horse.
At the Tennessee Dude and Guest Ranch in Dunlap, Tenn., you have the option of participating in a ranch and ride day where you can take a carriage ride, a carriage drive, a chuck wagon dinner and barn dance or a 4-hour and 6-hour Ranch & Ride program where you will learn everything there is to know about grooming and tacking up your horse. Ride to the river and back, untack and groom your horse for an in-depth, horseman experience. If you want to extend your stay, experience everyday life on the ranch by helping with chores like milking the cows, feeding the horses and collecting chicken eggs before sitting down to a cowboy breakfast. Learn horsemanship including how to clean a horse’s hooves, saddle up and learn all the cowboy techniques you’ll need on the trail. Stay at least four days and learn how to rope and ride while mounted on a horse. It’s the ultimate Tennessee horseback vacation.
Scenic Middle Tennessee is stretched out before you in Mount Juliet, just a short drive from downtown Nashville. Exchange the big city for a tranquil afternoon or early evening horseback ride through gorgeous countryside with Juro Stables. Whether you’re a beginner or experienced rider, let Sara and Roger, Juro Stables co-owners, know what you want out of your riding experience. You can take a leisurely ride through deer trails, meadows and along streams or pick up the pace and trot or canter for an extra thrill.
Cast, kick back and relax in West Tennessee with some of the best fishing the state has to offer.
Hear the lap of the water while having some reel fun on Carroll County Thousand Acre Recreation Lake. Largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill and catfish make their homes in the lake, providing fishermen with an unmatched experience. The lake is divided into two areas with the southern third dedicated to fishing. Water sports can be conducted in the northern two thirds. When your fishing day has ended, have an early dinner under the pavilion, relax on the beaches or take some photos along the northeast side of the lake.
Reelfoot Lake State Park is a great site for outdoor enthusiasts, especially fishermen as Reelfoot Lake is Tennessee’s only natural lake at 18,000 acres. It’s nationally known for its bluegill and crappie fish but is highly praised for panfish in April and May. Bass can be caught throughout the year. Whether you fish by boat, pier, boardwalk or bank, your experience is guaranteed to be a memorable one. And, who knows? You may just spot a bald eagle, too, as they make their homes within the park.