Popular travel guide, Discovering Tennessee State Parks is the book that you can gift to someone special, including yourself, to plan year-round trips and hikes. Tennessee has 56 state parks, visited by the authors for the book. Their enthusiasm for the outdoor opportunity in Tennessee made choosing their book for the December 2019 Book of the Month easy and a joy!
J.L. and Lin Stepp began the adventure of the Parks in July, 2015, first visiting Warriors’ Path State Park in Kingsport. Their intention was to visit all 56 state parks in Tennessee. The Stepps, who live in Tennessee, enjoy hiking and were looking forward to seeing a variety of scenery. They were mightily surprised at the many unexpected things they would learn about the state parks available right near their own back door.
Visiting each (park) felt like taking a mini-vacation every time we set out. Every park offered its own unique experiences and appeal.J.L. and Lin Stepp in Discovering Tennesee Parks
A Travel Guide Tested by the Authors
J.L. and Lin found each trip to be FUN as well as beautiful in individual ways. Lakes, trees, wildflowers and wildlife, paths to hike were different in each park. History around old building sites, battle grounds and mills along the creeks enhanced each visit. Some parks are located close to their home and could be visited in a day trip. When further distances called, there were often lovely park lodges available to stay over for a full visit.
Their adventures were recorded in their journals and photos. The adventure became this book sharing the beautiful (and healthful) outdoor experiences in Tennessee State Parks. Fellow Tennesseans can enjoy the book, dreaming and planning for some vacation, mini or longer, right in their own backyard. People from other states or countries can use the book as a guide to some fantastic, wholesome entertainment in beautiful Tennessee. This state has a wide geographic variety from level plains to mild rolling hills and some pretty steep slopes!
My ‘pack’ at Cardinal Bluff usually travels THROUGH Tennessee on our way somewhere else. The route through Chattanooga is the sensible path for us. We enjoy the road around Look Out Mountain where on foggy days, the low clouds in the tree tops are reminiscent of Civil War ghosts in this Eastern part of Tennessee.
These Outlook Mountain views and the trip through Chattanooga led me to take up and review Discovering Tennessee Parks earlier in Tennessee Home — J.L. and Lin Stepp Share The Joy of Home.
There are several Tennessee parks in the Chattanooga area. Approximately 13 miles from the famous museum of The Chattanooga Choo Choo, you can find the Booker T. Washington Park, approximately 400 acres along the Chickamauga Lake. The area has high visitor reviews and offers many amenities. The hiking/biking trails are easy to access. An arrangement of biking trails wander for 6 miles along the lake shore and is a popular choice. There are facilities for picnicking on day trips as well as rental opportunities. Larger group picnic shelters, the Oaks Group Camp with cabins and facilities and the Margaret Murray Washington Assembly Hall are all available to rent for special events.
Cummins Falls is a smaller park and one of the newest parks, opened in 2014. Fortunately, the authors didn’t begin their trek till Cummins Falls park was available! There is a challenging trail (in and out of water) to the falls. OR, a shorter hike to an overlook deck with magnificent views of the falls. Cummins Falls is the eighth largest waterfall in Tennessee. The waters tumble 75 feet and spread a curtain of water over rocky bluffs and ledges. The falls finish at a wide, deep plunge pool, popular with the people who hike to the spot to spend some time at the pool.
The authors’ photos of the falls and pool are stunning. Near a picnic area, visitors find remains of the old Cummins home. The Cummins family owned the property for 180 years, operating mills and farming. In 1825, John Cummins bought the farm from a Revolutionary War veteran, Sergeant Blackburn. Blackburn received the land as a pension in the 1790s.
Cummins Falls Park is only one of the many parks that open up Tennessee history along with a chance to view wildlife and wildflowers.
Big Cypress Tree State Park is Tennessee’s smallest park at only 27 acres. Lying next to Big Cypress State Recreational and Natural Area, there is access to much more territory along the Obion and North Fork Obion rivers. The entire 27 acres is in the forested bottomlands and flood plains of these rivers. (In summer, anticipate mosquitoes and bring repellent)
This little park was named for a huge and ancient cypress tree that stood in the area until struck by lightning in 1976. Poignant that the tree should fail in the year of bi-centennial of our country. The tree stood for an estimated 1350 years, growing to 175 feet tall, 40 feet in circumference and 13 feet in diameter. The tree known at “The Tennessee Titan” was the largest bald cypress tree in the United States and the largest tree of any species east of the Mississippi River. The trail to the location of the tree is closed since the tree has gone.
Tiny when compared to other parks, Big Cypress Tree State Park boasts picnic tables and spots, plus a paved nature trail around the picnic area. Easily ADA and stroller accessible, signage identifies wildflowers in a special garden and trees along the trail.
About 10 miles from the park is a cabin and museum commemorating David “Davy” Crockett, an extension to a Cypress Park visit. Crockett hunted and fished extensively in the park and Big Cypress area while he lived in West Tennessee.
Wish Book — Dream Book — Guide Book
Authors, J.L. and Lin Stepp traveled across the width of Tennessee, East to West. They visited all FIFTY-SIX state parks to build their state parks travel guide, Discovering Tennessee State Parks. They tested the trails, set up photos, talked with other visitors and park staff, AND measured miles! As mentioned in my earlier review, they are truly sharing their joy of their home state and the parks.
Better than a GPS, this book can take you to the best facets of each park, LITERALLY and LITERATURE-ly. The conversational, picturesque descriptions and vivid photos provide reading pleasure for a mental trip. These tools will whet your traveling appetite and be invaluable in planning your visits to the state parks of Tennessee. Available in print or digital format, there’s no excuse for missing out!
The authors referred to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation website and the excellent service provided for people who wish to know more about the parks and their routine. Additionally, many parks have individual websites with printable brochures about the park’s features.
I’ve been a fan of Lin’s novels featuring the beautiful scenery and geography of Tennessee for quite some time. As in the novels, she work sword magic in this travel guide giving readers a picture of the parks and amenities. Readers can learn more about J.L. and Lin at LinStepp.com. It is my pleasure to select this book as the December 2019 Book of the Month at Cardinal Bluff.