SPLASH, PADDLE, and SWIM THROUGH WEST TENNESSEE
Heat can be a good thing. It makes peaches sweeter, gives good cover for an ice cream addiction and turns the touch of cool water into a miracle. I like my peaches from Jones Orchard, my frozen treats from a variety of local purveyors, and these five spots for swimming, paddling and splashing my way through the west Tennessee summer:
1. Chickasaw State Park swim beach
I love to run the Lakeshore Trail at Chickasaw State Park in Henderson, where pines share their canopies; the ground rolls but remains friendly; and Lake Placid shimmers through the foliage to keep me going. Take a few laps ’round the trail; then plunge into the lake – the Lake Placid swim beach (with bathhouse) is free and open to the public. You can rent rowboats and pedal boats here, too.
2. Wolf River
On this Class I river, the thrill is in the scenery: cypress swamps, sunny marshes, an encyclopedia of oaks. It’s easy to access the Wolf’s Ghost River section from La Grange or Moscow on your own; it’s even easier to do it with the Wolf River Conservancy. The group guides regular float trips, paddles and “stream strolls” (imagine wading alongside a naturalist to identify specimens like endangered freshwater mussels). View the Conservancy’s events and registration details here.
3. Collierville splash parks
Collierville keeps the water running at two public splash parks through Labor Day weekend. One operates on the rambling grounds of W.C. Johnson Park; the other inside pocket-sized Suggs Park. Here’s the deal: Both splash parks are the same size (a little larger than a basketball court) with the same features (think colorful animals, flowers, arches and buckets that are touch-activated). We like Suggs for its picnic pavilion, but the playground at Johnson is something to see. Hours for both are Monday through Sunday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., though Johnson is closed Mondays (with some restrictions Wednesday and Friday mornings); Suggs is closed Wednesdays.
4. Memphis Zoo geyser
Memphis Zoo‘s Teton Trek area is a little slice of Yellowstone, complete with a log cabin-esque “Great Lodge,” habitats for grizzlies, wolves and elk…and a geyser. Bring a bathing suit, extra clothes and a towel (you can change inside the Lodge restrooms), and let the kids at it: This Old Faithful sprays 30 feet in the air with smaller geysers all around. Stand inside the perimeter for a thorough soak, or work the outskirts for a reviving mist.
5. Riverwalk at Mud Island River Park
Admission to Mud Island River Park includes access to the Riverwalk, a replica of the 954-mile Lower Mississippi from Cairo, Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico on a 30’: one mile scale. Slosh for five blocks past 20 mapped cities and floodways en route to the acre-sized Gulf of Mexico, where you can rent a pedal boat.
If you see an adult running through the Memphis Zoo geyser, it’s probably me, so stop and say hello. Until then, tell me: Where will you be splashing/paddling/swimming this Tennessee summer?