Much to Do at Mousetail Landing
Rocking lazily in my anchored john boat waiting for an equally lazy catfish to sniff out my nightcrawler from among the rocks at the mouth of Spring Creek, I relished one of the cool days last week. At Mousetail Landing State Park it’s different on weekends when the campgrounds become busy as tournament anglers idle out of the creek and then run-n-gun along the Tennessee River casting for bass.
The state park lies on the eastern shore of the Tennessee River between the communities of Linden and Parsons. I pitched my tent in the quiet primitive camping area (I haven’t graduated to the RV set yet). I like the solitude of camping during the week and cooking supper at sundown. There are lots of grills and picnic tables across the road along the shore of Spring Creek Embayment – a very picturesque setting.
Two boat launches provide access along the park’s two miles of river frontage. One is on the main channel of the Tennessee River and the other accesses the backwater of Spring Creek Embayment.
Add hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing along the banks of the river and in the woods and it’s a recipe for a peaceful getaway on a waterfront setting. In the embayment to the north, swimmers are provided a sandy beach for sunbathing after a cool dip. A nearby fishing pier provides easy access for anglers. Rod holders are built-in.
Eagle Point Trail leads to two overnight screened primitive shelters with bunks for eight. You may reserve a shelter for $5, or it’s free on a first-come basis; both require a permit. These shelters are for overnight hikers on the eight-mile trek. Shelter #2 is on a scenic limestone bluff overlooking the river. Campers seeking the night sounds of the forest will prefer shelter # 1 that is farther from the river.
Many of the earliest communities along the Tennessee River were landings for river boats. There are a couple of stories about how Mousetail Landing got its name. Both involve a fire at a tannery during the Civil War era that sent rodents that infested the green animal hides scurrying. The sight left a lasting impression and the unusual name for the river shipping port.
I didn’t spot a single mouse, fleeing or otherwise, during a recent visit but within Mousetail’s 1, 247 acres there are deer, turkey, raccoon, fox, beaver, coyote, birds, waterfowl and 11 miles of hiking trails. The three-mile Day Use Trail loops through a mixed hardwoods and pine forest from the park office to the picnic pavilion area above the beach and fishing pier.
I pitched my tent near Spring Creek Trailhead that’s a short walk winding through the woods to come out along the river where there is a wooden two-seater swing overlooking Kentucky Lake.
Most of the 25 campsites in the main campground have electricity and water hook ups. All have picnic tables, grills and fire rings. The bathhouse and coin laundry are open seasonally.
An archery range, a five-mile intermediate or a nine-mile advanced mountain bike trail, playgrounds, ball fields, horseshoes, plenty of picnic spots and canoe programs on Spring Creek Embayment round out the fun.
Contact the Park Office 731-847-0841 for their special nature programs. Some are seasonal and others continue year-round. If a group is interested in a program, please contact the Park Office to schedule a program time.
You’ll see lots of dragonflies and damselflies. Here’s a challenge for you – try to identify all 29 species that can be found in the park. You can get your identification list at the Park Office.
From Memphis: Take I-40 to Exit 126, south on Hwy 69 14 miles to Parson, TN. Travel east on Hwy 412 for 6 miles and cross the Tennessee River. Take a left on Hwy 438, travel 2.5 miles. The park entrance is on the left.——
From Nashville: Take I-40 West to Exit 143. Take a left on Hwy 13 South nine miles to Lobelville. At the National Guard Armory turn right on Hwy 438 and follow to Park Entrance (approx 17 miles on Hwy 438).