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Hike a Tennessee State Park and Start 2014 Off on the Right Foot

What do black-eyed peas, collard greens seasoned with hog jowl, champagne toasts and lists of personal goals have in common?

They’re all some of our most famous New Year’s traditions. The food symbolizes prosperity. Champagne welcomes the New Year. Fireworks and noisemakers chase off evil spirits lurking about. Lists of resolutions set goals for the coming year. To tell you the truth at our house they’ve mostly gathered dust by March.

And to top it all off: A kiss at midnight ensures affection for the coming year. This one doesn’t gather dust. 

Some believe washing dishes, doing laundry or taking out the garbage are taboo on New Year’s Day and I’m good with that. But according to my wife the most important thing to remember is that what you do on the first of January sets the tone for the year so I’m hoping you’ll all have a wonderful trend-setting day.

And that brings me to some beautiful Tennessee places to put your best foot forward. To see what’s planned for your area visit http://tnstateparks.com or call your chosen state park. Here’s a sampling of what’s coming up the first week of the New Year.

EAST

What could be better than fresh air, exercise and the companionship of like-minded people? Add a 1.2-mile roundtrip hike that leads to the longest stretch of highland meadows known as grassy balds and one of the prettiest sections of the southern portion of the Appalachian Trail system and you’ve got a recipe for a great First Day hike on January 1, 2014 at Roan Mountain State Park.

Roan Mountain State Park

Be prepared for cold weather and majestic views as you start your New Year’s Day hike at Carver’s Gap. (Photo TN State Parks)

Park Ranger Meg Guy will be dressed for cold, windy and maybe even snowy conditions when she meets hikers at the Park Conference Center at 9 a.m. EST to caravan to Carver’s Gap. For information call 800-250-8620 or 423-772-0190.

Contrary to the popular ballad of the 1950s, Davy Crockett was not “born on a mountaintop in Tennessee” but in a cabin along the banks of the Nolichucky River on August 17, 1786. According to Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park Bill Knapp, the park staff and Pioneer Friends group will meet at the reconstructed cabin at 11 a.m. EST for a hike along the Limestone Creek Trail on January 1.

Davy Crockett Birthplace

Hot wassail, hot chocolate and cookies will be served in the reconstructed cabin at Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park before and after the New Year’s Day hike. (Photo: TN State Parks)

Stories will be spun at the birthplace of the American hero who loved telling tall tales. For information call 423-257-2167.

MIDDLE

Dava Lundquist, Interpretive Specialist at Rock Island State Park, says the park is hosting a trio of hikes including a 1.5-mile hike January 1, 2014 on the beautiful Downstream Trail that starts at the Twin Falls Overlook. On January 4, 2014, a repeat of the Downstream Trail hike is scheduled and on January 5 the Collins River Connector Trail will be featured. Contact the office at 800-713-6065 or 931-686-2471 to pre-register.

Edgar Evins State Park’s Ranger Wayne Morrison says hikers will meet at the Millennium Trail at 10:00 AM CST on Jan. 1, 2014. This wooded trail follows a former roadbed past remnants of a couple of homesteads and several old stone walls along a 2.5-mile moderate hike. Call 800-250-8619 or 931-858-2115 for details.

Hikers of all ages heading for Longhunter State Park should arrive at 10 a.m. CST sporting a colorful hat or a even a dull hat with a colorful story to join the Jan. 1 hike on the two-mile, level, hard-surfaced Couchville Lake Trail. Call 615-885-2422 with questions.

Meriam Tummons tells me Ranger Bob Holliday will meet hikers on Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. CST at the trailhead parking lot for Johnsonville State Historic Park’s White Trail. The two-mile hike follows easy terrain along portions of the historic railroad bed. Call 931-535-2789 for details.

Johnsonville State Park

Hikers will meet near the newly constructed soldiers’ cabins at Johnsonville State Historic Park for the First Day hike on January 1. (Photo courtesy: Meriam Tummons)

WEST

Paris Landing and Pickwick Landing State Parks are offering special packages complete with lodging, dining and dancing on New Year’s Eve followed by breakfast or brunch and First Day hikes on the following day. Paris Landing’s annual “Shiver at the River” offers a brisk and bracing start for 2014. For details call Paris Landing at 731-641-4465 or Pickwick at 731-689-3129.

Pickwick Landing State Park

Enjoy dinner followed by a hike New Year’s Day or join the Roaring 20s-style event sponsored by Team Hardin County on New Year’s Eve at Pickwick Landing State Park.

On Jan. 1, Reelfoot Lake State Park will be hosting a hike into the Wetland Area at Walnut Log. Bring your binoculars for eagle viewing and meet at 10 a.m. at the Visitors Center before heading to the U.S. Wildlife Refuge. For more information call 731-253-9652.

I hope you start 2014 on the right foot!

*Because of changing weather conditions, Rock Island State Park is adding a history hike on January 12 along the Collin’s River Connector Trail. The group meets at the Park Office at 1 p.m. 

Hi there! I’m Vernon Summerlin. Like many, I came to Nashville to break into the music industry. After years of striving, I...Read on

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