Winter has mildly settled in here in our state. Frost hugs the mountaintops and trees, and turns the purest water ice cold. Bundle up and let your eyes behold the winterized beauty in our state parks and natural areas. While visiting, make sure you remain hydrated and stay on paths properly marked by Tennessee's official state parks and wildlife management teams. Here are just eight places you should explore during the cold months:
Explore 24,000 acres of wilderness made of hiking, biking and horse riding trails. The peak of the Cumberland Mountains at 3,324 ft. is covered in ice and snow in the winter months. Perfect for that always-coveted Tennessee Instagram photo-op.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Sevier County
The nation's most visited park also has a wealth of hiking opportunities. Get out in nature and discover what wildlife roams this time of year. With waterfalls, forests, panorama views, and caves, the most difficult part of your trip will be choosing which trail to explore.
Foster Falls Small Wild Area – Sequatchie
The wild area is one of the most scenic wild areas in Tennessee. Take an easy hike to see the beauty of the falls. After you've snapped as many photos as your heart desires, continue along the suspension bridge over the river to the base of the falls.
Fall Creek Falls – Spencer
Waterfalls, rock formations, streams and gorges can all be found within the 26,000 acres of this park. With 35 hiking trails already mapped out, some which lead you to the elegant waterfall, you can have a full, fun day in Tennessee's lush outdoors.
Long Hunter State Park – Hermitage
Enjoy a variety of terrain and hiking skill levels on the more than 20 miles of hiking trails. Strolls along the paved arboretum trail or some of the more adventurous routes are all yours for the taking.
Reelfoot Lake State Park – Tiptonville
Submerged cypress trees make this state park a great destination for birding and hiking. Daily bald eagle and waterfowl tours are hosted by expert naturalists. Don't forget to mark your calendar for the Reelfoot Eagle Festival in February.
Natchez Trace State Park – Wildersville
A wealth of history from animal crossings to Native American trade and travel routes can all be found at the park. Walk through forests and fields and along streams on the 13.5 miles of hiking trails, ranging from half-mile to 4.5 mile trails.
The archaeological park contains at least 15 Native American mounds, once used for celebrations and burials. See them up close on one of the hiking trails where you can climb steps to see the view from them. Get out in nature on the Nature Trail and the Earthworks Trail.