Saturday, September 18, 2010

September Out of Doors East Tennessee

As you all know, Fall is in the air and rapidly approaching. This can only mean one thing here in East Tennessee. It's time to get out of doors and enjoy our natural wonders, take in the local culture, and just be outside. From football, to heritage festivals, this time of year really brings out the best of what Tennessee has to offer, well at least in my humble opinion. Robin hates football.

If festivals aren't your sort of thing, then maybe a scenic drive, or a wondrous hike in many of the great parks East Tennessee has to offer. I for one can say, that I am looking most forward to the Haunting in the Hills storytelling festival at Big South Fork today. It's been an annual favorite for our family, and this year will be no different.

Camping is another great thing to undertake this time of year, the weather is starting to cool down, which means less bugs, and less heat. Several of the parks in East Tennessee offer rustic tent style camping. If you prefer to go deeper in the woods and away from the campground crowds, then the back country should fit the bill. The Smokys, Big South Fork, Frozen Head, you name it, there are plenty of back country camp sites to enjoy.

If you'd like to find out more about the festivals that are around the area, I suggest you check out They have a wonderful listing of festivals and other entertainment options in the East Tennessee area and more.

So if you've been cooped up and crazy busy this summer due to the heat, work, family, etc. take some time this weekend to get out of the doors and experience life around you. I know we will.

Happy Trails,
Tim and Robin

Monday, September 6, 2010

Big Ridge Cycling

So this morning, after a cup of coffee, Wifey suggests a bike ride at Big Ridge State Park. Of course I think this is a grand idea. It's still early, cool, and I've always loved cycling. This of course isn't the first bike ride we've been on. We've done the Virginia Creeper Trail earlier this year, mountain biked at Panther Creek State Park, even rode Cades Cove loop in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and rode a nice mountain bike trail in Big South Fork NRRA.

Since I agreed enthusiastically, we left our back deck and went to don our cycling apparel and prepare for the ride. It had been quite some time since we last had the mountain bikes out, and you know what that means. That's right, you guessed it, they had to be wiped down and cleared from spider webs and the tires needed a good airing. Once that was complete I loaded the bikes into the back of the jeep. We recently purchased a new car and hadn't tried our bike rack on it yet for fear we might tear of the rear window wiper.

With the bikes loaded, water bottles at the ready and helmets in hand, we were off to Big Ridge. Upon arriving, the sun was shining bright, the weather was just a touch warmer. Looks like wifey's bet of freezing while on the ride was lost. We started down by the gristmill, up the hill towards the front of the park, around the campground, past the swimming area and tea room, out to the front entrance, back towards the gristmill to the back entrance, turned around and went back to the gristmill and for good measure back to the back entrance and to the gristmill once more.

Total approximate distance was 3.5 miles. Don't know how long it took us but I could tell it had been awhile since we had been in the saddle. For those who are interested, here is a link to the course we took, mapped out on The course isn't exact as the campground and the tea room roads aren't properly mapped on Google maps.

Anyway, it was truly a wonderful way to start our Labor Day. Until next time, stay out of doors as much as possible. There's a whole world outside waiting for you.

Well wishes,
Tim and Robin.

It's a Byrd, it's a Creek...

Fall is in the air this weekend here in East Tennessee. Although we are in the last stretch of Summer, this weekend has felt like the beginning of Autumn. With this being the case and the additional bonus of it being Labor Day weekend, we decided it was high time to get in the woods.

While a camping trip would have been wonderful, and I guarantee one is being planned for later in the month, we really couldn't swing one this weekend. So instead we opted for a nice hike at Cumberland Mountain State Park.

As always, the night before we were looking researching a place to hike. We decided, since it had been a few months since our last hike, we'd do something that was a bit easy to more or less get back into the swing of things. Additionally, since we've done most of the short easy hikes that are in our vicinity we decided on Byrd Creek Trail to Cumberland Plateau Nature Trail.

This hike was only 2.7 miles and had a total elevation gain/loss of approximately 60ft. For the beginner to intermediate hiker, this is just enough to get the heart rate up and the terrain is good to "cut your teeth on". It was a mix of soft sand and pine needles in some spots and real rooty, and/or rocky in others.

The park itself is really pretty, offering plenty amenities for those that don't hike or need something extra. The history of the park is rather interesting much like the origin of the man-made dam. Unfortunately the lake was down causing Byrd Creek to seem rather unmoving and a bit stagnant. Aside from this, there was plenty of flora and fauna to admire along with birds, trees, and other cool trail features like the Boy Scout bridge just before the nature trail portion of the hike.

So that's all we've got on this adventure. Stay tuned for our next edition. As the weather turns cooler there will be more adventures to go on. Until then, enjoy the pictures.

P.S. - For a more in-depth trail description check out's entry. Keep in mind we did the hike in the reverse direction and did not do the Overnight trail portion.

The Bird's on Byrd Creek Trail
Byrd Creek
WTF? The Little Dipper? O_o

Zombies!!! Everyone, run for your lives!!!
Byrd Lake
Your's Truly: Some call me Tim
Wifey, Kiddo, and Sidekick at Boy Scout Bridge
Byrd Lake Dam
Trail Head Signpost
Smooth Phlox
Dam Kiddo (LOL)
Some type of Agaric Mushroom. There's too many to know which one.
If you happen to know please leave a comment.

Looking up through the canopy