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Best Tennessee State Parks to Visit in the Spring

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Best Tennessee State Parks to Visit in the Spring

Meeman Shelby Forest State Park - courtesy of Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation

The Top Three Choices Offer Opportunities for Hiking, Wildflower Viewing, and Fishing.

Meeman Shelby Forest State Park

Bordering on the mighty Mississippi River, the 13,467-acre Meeman Shelby Forest State Park features bottomland hardwood forests of large oak, cypress and tupelo that provide a welcome home to deer, turkey, beaver and some 200 species of birds. The park, with its quiet lakes, pleasant picnic areas, diverse trails and other accommodating facilities has become a sanctuary from the fast pace of city life, only a 30-minute drive from downtown Memphis.

Shelby Forest’s many miles of bluff and bottomland hiking trails have become very popular for runners, hikers, birdwatchers and people just wanting to enjoy nature. A 5-mile paved bike trail provides an easy venue for strollers, wheelchairs, and those who have difficulty on uneven ground. Shelby Forest also offers a variety of events and programs, including deep swamp canoe floats, pontoon boat trips, live raptor and reptile programs, along with historical arts and craft events. For further information, call 901-876-5215 or 800-471-5293.

Frozen Head State Park

Frozen Head State Park and Natural Area, located on the northern end of the Cumberland Plateau, is home to Frozen Head, elevation 3,324 feet and one of the highest peaks in Tennessee west of the Great Smoky Mountains. The park's lush vegetation, small streams, waterfalls and beautiful mountains make Frozen Head one of Tennessee's most scenic parks. Frozen Head also offers one of the finest trail systems in Tennessee. There are over 50 miles of very scenic and challenging foot trails throughout this wild and rugged 11,876-acre mountain park. The trails feature waterfalls, giant sandstone rock formations, bluffs, abundant wildlife and 14 mountain peaks over 3,000 feet in elevation. Each of these 20 different trails crisscross relatively undisturbed forest and feature some of the richest wildflower viewing areas in Tennessee. April weekends offer hikers the opportunity to take in the brilliant colors on display during the Annual Frozen Head Wildflower Pilgrimage. For further information, call 423-346-3318.

Norris Dam State Park

Begun in 1933 as a Tennessee Valley Authority project north of Knoxville, the 4,038-acre Norris Dam State Park is located on the shores of Norris Lake and offers outstanding opportunities for boating, skiing and fishing fun. Lake and river fishing are available with anglers pulling catches of brown and rainbow trout, striper bass, small and largemouth bass, walleye and crappie. Along with 700 miles of shoreline, this park provides a variety of trails through deeply forested valleys and ridges. Norris Dam is also home to the Lenoir Museum Cultural Complex with its Lenoir Pioneer Museum, an 18th Century Rice Grist Mill and Caleb Crosby Threshing Barn. Often referred to as a “mini-Smithsonian,” Lenoir Pioneer Museum features a diverse range of Appalachian artifacts and a pre-dam pictorial account of the region now submerged by Norris Lake. For further information, call the park at 865-426-7461 or the marina at 865-494-8138.

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