Middle Tennessee Celebrates Its Fall Colors
It’s that wonderful time of year again when the sun casts deeper shadows, there’s a hint of a chill in the night air and our hardwood trees put on a show. It’s time to get out the long-sleeved shirts and step outside ‘cause fall is finally here.
Typically our best fall displays in Middle Tennessee begin in mid-October. But some years the celebrated colors persist until Turkey Day. Activities for leaf-lookers are gearing up at Edgar Evins State Park, Twin Arches State Natural Area in the Big South Fork, and Fall Creek Falls State Park. Here’s what’s in store.
Edgar Evins State Park rolls into autumn glory with their annual History Hayride on Oct. 12. Costumed re-enactors bring the history of the area and its people into the present at several stops along the way.
Although I still treasure the sight of evening sunlight turning hay bales golden, I’m surely grateful that tossing those bales from dawn to dusk is now someone else’s job.
You’ll need reservations to get on board so better call quickly to snag a spot.
If your dance card is filled or reservations became as scarce as hen’s teeth for Oct. 12, Edgar Evins and Center Hill Lake should still be pretty spectacular during the Fall Color Cruise on Nov. 2. Reservations are needed for this two-hour outing as well so you shouldn’t dawdle if you don’t want to be left at the dock. For more information on either event or to RSVP call 931-858-2114 or 800-250-8619.
A Bird’s Eye View
There are hundreds of naturally-occurring stone arches in the 125,000-acre Big South Fork but it’s hard to imagine a geological formation more impressive than the massive sandstone arches in Twin Arches State Natural Area, one of two of Tennessee’s state natural areas inside Big South Fork managed by the National Park Service. Sitting end-to-end they form the largest natural bridge complex identified in Tennessee.
Join a group led by David Lincicome of Tennessee’s Division of Natural Areas and Marie Tackett of the National Park Service on Saturday, Oct.19 at 10 a.m. The two-mile moderately difficult hike over rocky terrain leads to the top of the South Arch which towers 103 feet above the surrounding forest floor. It spans 135 feet but is thick enough and wide enough to feel sturdy even to my wife, Cathy, who continues a long standing love-hate relationship with heights.
The adjoining North Arch reaches 62 feet high and spans 93 feet. In addition to stone arches, there are steep bluffs, sandstone rock houses and sandstone barrens along the top of the deep gorge formed by tributaries draining into the South Fork of the Cumberland River. To hike this trail with knowledgeable guides is a great opportunity to learn in one of nature’s finest classrooms. RSVP to David Lincicome by Oct. 17 at 615-532-0439 or David.Lincicome@tn.gov.
(UPDATE: Due to the government shutdown, the Oct. 19 hike of Twin Arches has been canceled.)
Fall Comes to Fall Creek Falls
Tommy Solomon at Fall Creek Falls State Park says things are looking good for this year’s Fall Colors Weekend on Oct. 19-20. Bicycle tours, guided hikes ranging from two to six miles roundtrip, interpretive programs and slideshows focus on autumn majesty at Fall Creek Falls.
An overnight guided backtracking trip is planned for Nov. 16-17. The 13-mile trek travels on the Lower Loop of Cane Creek Overnight Trail. The first day is the most challenging with a 6.5-mile trip into the Cane Creek Gorge. The next day’s hike is easier but equally beautiful as you pass by Piney Falls, Fall Creek Falls and Cane Creek Falls. Pre-registration is needed for the backpacking trip since the group size is limited. For more information on either event call 423-881-5298.
Where’s your favorite spot to celebrate fall in Tennessee?