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Warriors’ Path: The perfect state park

Tennessee has a national reputation for doing it right with its state parks, and Warriors’ Path is my latest perfect example.

All 950 acres of Warriors’ Path are so close to Kingsport that many locals use it like a city park. Weekends are filled with joggers and walkers trucking around the paved loop on Duck Island, the park’s centerpiece. Others are playing basketball on the court there or perhaps holding a family picnic at one of the beautiful pavilions, all with views of the water below.

The island sits in the Patrick Henry Reservoir on Holston River, and park designers used the water to its fullest.

A sand beach draws swimmers in warm weather and numerous small, tributary streams make perfect eye-catchers for hikers. The Devil’s Backbone Trail follows a ridgeline and it’s almost as if the many ups and downs are the vertebrae. Your reward for the pain is several spectacular overlooks across the water with the mountains marching to the horizon. The state park has 10 hiking trails totally 12 miles. I had difficulty finding the Fall Creek Loop Trail because the park map did not include directions to this far-flung trail. Once I completed the loop, I decided locating it was worth the trouble.

A little stream also winds through one of the most amazing children’s playgrounds in Tennessee.  Darrell’s Dream Boundless Playground opened at Warriors’ Path in 2007. Children scamper on colorful swings and slides. They play in giant sandscapes. They climb into a treehouse with telescopes that allow them to spy on birds and the action below. And a feature you just don’t see anywhere else: a walking trail leads a visitor through the storybook heroics of Aslan, the lion in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. The real joy is that the playground was built for all children including those with physical challenges.  In fact, Warrior’s Path was the first state park in the nation to provide a Boundless Playground for visitors.

More than a dozen horses wait in a stable for riders. A mountain bike trail system serves up more than six miles of off-road fun. An incredible disc golf course is carved out of the woods, but designed not to be too difficult to ruin the fun. A massive, Olympic-sized swimming pool opens in the summer. An 18-hole golf course displays that same creativity prevalent throughout the park. The hills, woods and water add to the enjoyable challenge. The course has been designated as a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Hawks, herons and geese can be spotted trying to play through.

The state park has 134 campsites, plus bathhouses and other facilities. The marina holds two boat ramps and 50 slips. Canoes are available during the summertime. Fishermen have it good here. They find a quiet spot and wait for the fish to bite. They can catch bass, trout, blue gill, catfish, crappie and bream.

I think Kingsport people are very lucky to have this for a backyard.

Warriors’ Path is not a Tennessee State Resort Park with a lodge for overnight accommodations, but this state park has all the extras you’d expect to find at a resort. After all, there are plenty of hotels in Kingsport, so you can easily get a room, unless you choose a Bristol racing weekend.

I really like the place. How about you? Which is your favorite state park?

Hi! I’m Linda Lange. As a travel writer living in Knoxville, I fully appreciate barbecue, bluegrass and Dollywood. My story...Read on

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    Helen Ochoa

    The playground looks great! I’ll need to bring my family here once my son gets a little older. Thanks!

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    Linda Lange

    Thanks for the comment. By the way, the Darrell’s Dream Boundless Playground has gotten even better. On April 23, a 200-seat amphitheater was officially opened as the “final phase” of the 12-year playground project. Friends of Warriors Path plan to use it for lectures, outdoor movies and concerts.

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