HomeNewsWest Tennessee state parks offering events this month

West Tennessee state parks offering events this month

By Sabrina Bates

Staff Writer

Tennessee boasts 57 state parks and natural areas that house nearly 400 cabins, six state-park lodges and 36 campgrounds. That number is expected to grow over the next few years. In West Tennessee, there are seven of those state parks that are within an hour’s drive or slightly more of the Hub City. Add to that four more state parks that are no more than a 1.5-hour-drive and the summer activity calendars will be easy to fill up quickly for local families.

Throughout the year, these parks are home to an abundance of wildlife and plant life, scenic views and plenty of outdoor classrooms as park rangers plan family-friendly activities such as bird-watching, searching for salamanders or star-gazing. Most of these activities are free, with the exception of $5 or $10 donations for some necessary supplies.

For those looking to spend a day soaking up nature and exploring the beautiful landscapes in West Tennessee, here’s a look at some of the upcoming activities at three of those state parks that are worth the drive:

Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park, 460 Ozier Rd., Pinson:

Open daily 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

May 11-20 – Virtual Honeybee 5K: Registration – $25

May 18 – In-Person Honeybee 5K: Registration – $20; Runners who complete their 5K at the park will be able to pick up their finisher medal between 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. 

Craft and Educational booths will be available in the Event Area from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Interested vendors are asked to call the park office at 731-988-5614.

The museum will be open from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

The proceeds from this 5K will benefit the Honey Project, which helps establish honey bee hives and maintain them. Sign up at: https://www.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=15777.

About the Park

Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park covers more than 1,200 acres and contains at least 15 Native American mounds. Archaeological evidence suggests the mounds were both burial and ceremonial in purpose. Pinson Mounds is a national historic landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It officially became a Tennessee State Park in 1974. To this day, the park contains the largest Native American Middle Woodland Period mound group in the United States. The Pinson Mounds museum is designed to replicate a Native American mound.

The building includes 4,500 square feet of exhibit space, an archaeological library, an 80-seat theater and ‘Discovery Room’ for historical exploration, park offices and the West Tennessee Regional Archaeology Office.

Outdoor attractions at Pinson Mounds State Park include hiking trails which allow access to the Native American mounds and picnic facilities each equipped with a table and grill. The group camp has four cabins (sleeping eight people each), restrooms with six showers as well as washers and dryers and a large main building with a kitchen.

Natchez Trace State Park

Natchez Trace State Park, 24845 Natchez Trace Rd., Wildersville

May 9 – Natchez Trace State Park Visitor Center Open House, 2-4 p.m.

Join park staff at the Natchez Trace State Park Visitor Center to see the newly renovated visitor center including ADA upgrades and to hear about other park improvements that will be coming soon.

May 11 – World Migratory Bird Day Hike, Cub Lake Trailhead at Cub Lake Recreational Lodge, 6-7 p.m. (Donations Accepted)

World Migratory Bird Day is a global campaign to raise awareness for migratory birds and their conservation needs. This hike will get you the chance to experience and learn to identify some native birds, as well as learn about how bird migration works. 

About the Park

The park’s hiking trails range from a one-half mile up to 4.5 miles, and a 40 mile overnight trail. The trails wind through the forest and fields and along the lakeshores and streams of Natchez Park. Visitors also enjoy the museum that features local and park history, picnic facilities, camping, cabins and lodges, boating and the park’s restaurant.

The park offers activities for visitors of all ages. Fishing is a favorite activity at Natchez Trace and anglers have four lakes from which to choose.

Natchez Trace State Park is one of the few parks that have an onsite wrangler camp. Bucksnort Wrangler Camp features 65 campsites with full hook-ups, two bathhouses and a dump station. Natchez Trace State Park is located on an alternate route of the old Natchez Trace.The name originally applied to a series of trails and paths that originated with animal migration routes and American Indian trade and travel routes.

Pickwick Landing State Park

Pickwick Landing State Park, 116 State Park Ln., Counce

May 4, 10 & 11 – Raptor Feeding, Aviary at Park Office, 4:30 p.m. (Donations Accepted)

Join Ranger Kaylee as she feeds the birds of prey their dinner. Meet the park’s birds, hear their stories, and ask any questions one may have about Pickwick’s animal ambassadors.

May 4 – Creatures of the Night Hike, Campground Office, 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Join Ranger Kaylee on an exciting hike to explore the night and the creatures that are most active in the evening hours. Come learn about their adaptations to navigate and explore some of our own. You’ll get a chance to test your night vision and use UV flashlights to explore nature.

May 11 – Citizen Science Saturday, Island Loop Trailhead, 10-11 a.m.

Meet Interpretive Ranger Rachel at the Island Loop Trailhead to walk down to Slate Rock Creek and test for dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, and more. Hikers will also explore some leaf litter from the creek to hunt for aquatic creatures. Once all of the data is gathered, park supporters can determine the health of Slate Rock Creek. This program will be offered each month along with the data collection to ensure the park’s watershed is healthy and diverse. Hikers are asked to wear appropriate shoes and be prepared to get their hands dirty.

May 11 – Animal Adaptations: Animal Moms Edition, Campground Amphitheater, 12:30-1:30 p.m.

TN Naturalist Amber will have various pelts, skulls, and feathers from native critters for you to touch and explore!  She will have some amazing stories to tell about how each species has adaptations that help moms raise their young.

May 11 – Woodland Creature String Art, Shelter 5, 2-3:30 p.m., $10

Meet Interpretive Ranger Rachel at Shelter 5 to create your own string art. You’ll have a few pattern options to choose from ranging in levels of difficulty. We’ll discuss the role each organism plays in our ecosystem as you create your art piece. Participants should be comfortable with using hammers to attach multiple small nails to wood. 

About the Park

Pickwick Landing State Park is located just south of Pickwick Dam. Noted for its excellent water recreation the lake and river offer fishing, boating, swimming, and a marina. Accommodations in the park include a lodge and restaurant, cabins, and camping. In addition to water sports, guests enjoy golfing, birding, picnicking, disc golf, nature walks, and tennis. The park contains 1,416 acres of forested hills and hollows. 

The Lodge at Pickwick Landing has 119 rooms each with a picturesque view of the lake. An indoor pool and an outdoor pool are exclusively for cabin and Lodge (hotel) guests. Located near the lodge, the park’s cabins have central heat and air, cable TV, full kitchens, a patio, and a fireplace. The park also offers 48 beautiful wooded campsites. A primitive campground and picnic area is located on the north side of Pickwick Lake and has 33 sites with some located on the lake. Pickwick Lake is famous for smallmouth bass and Tennessee River Catfish. Fish that are known to bite year-round are crappie, bluegill, white bass, stripes, and sauger.

The park has a challenging golf course surrounded by trees, and water is found on eight holes. Pickwick Landing also offers three public swimming beaches.

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