Don't let Old Man Winter keep you inside

Carmen Musick • Jan 7, 2019 at 4:42 PM

Outdoor enthusiasts willing to brave cooler temperatures for a trek through any one of our local state parks might be happily surprised by the opportunities presented in the winter months.

Warriors' Path State Park in Kingsport, for example, is gearing up for its 30th Annual Winter Garden Seminar, while Roan Mountain will soon welcome visitors to its Winter Naturalists' Rally.

To see all of the offerings at local state parks, visit the park’s website. In the meantime, here’s a small sampling of what’s on tap around the region in coming weeks.

Natural Tunnel State Park

*January Skies, 7-8 p.m., Jan. 11 - Join volunteer Bob VanGundy as he shows you the universe. View the stars, from the gazebo, as they begin to illuminate in the night sky. Discover what constellations are visible and the stories behind them. Park interpreters will provide a shuttle up to the gazebo area. Dress for the weather. Only flashlights with a red filter are permitted to help preserve night vision.

Rocky Fork State Park

* Off Trail Adventure Hike-Summit Whitehouse, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Jan. 12 - This month's “off trail adventure hike” will take visitors up a rock field to the base of beautiful Whitehouse Cliffs. The group will continue walking up the scree to the summit. Please bring plenty of food, water and a sturdy pair of boots. This is a strenuous three-mile round trip hike. Limited to ages 12 and older.

Warriors’ Path State Park

* 30th Annual Winter Garden Seminar, 10 a.m., Jan. 19 - Local gardening enthusiasts are invited to come out and discover their garden's innate personality with guest speaker Margie Hunter. The author of "Gardening with the Native Plants of Tennessee," Margie will share her wisdom and knowledge of native plants, their habits and habitats. She will teach participants about the essential connection between natural communities and gardening, and help them understand how nature functions in the landscape. There is a $5 fee and pre-registration is required. The program meets in the Recreation Building.

Roan Mountain State Park

* Winter Birding Craft, 10 a.m., Jan. 19 - Winter has a subtle beauty, and our wintering birds are no different. Join park ranger Phil Hylen at the old restaurant building by the cabins for a winter bird ornament craft. Participants will choose their favorite iconic over-wintering bird pattern and make life-like bird ornaments perfect to put on the Christmas Tree or use for any-time household decoration. Participants will also learn the basics of their birds as a group before setting out for a short introduction to winter birding around the cabin area. The cost is $10. Be sure to dress warm.

* Atlatl Adventure, 3-5 p.m., Jan. 20 - Step back into the day of the ancient woodland natives at Roan Mountain State Park. At Picnic Shelter 3 in the campground, participants will learn to master the ancient hunting tool: the atlatl. This spear thrower was known for its innovation, artistic and spiritual meaning, and its excellence on the hunt. Come dressed for cool weather.

David Crockett Birthplace State Park

* Stargazing, 6-7 p.m., Jan. 12 - Join park rangers at the Sarah Hawkins Trail Overlook to enjoy the night sky above David Crockett Birthplace State Park. This program will be an educational event that describes constellations, asterisms, and different stars. Program will last one hour and the rain date will be Jan. 26.

* Smoked, Foraged, and Dried: A Frontier Feast, 1-2 p.m., Jan. 26 - Learn how the rugged frontiersmen survived the cold winter months and what they ate to sustain themselves. Try a sample of winter frontier foods. Meet at the Homestead.

In addition to the area's state parks, Kingsport's Bays Mountain Park is one of the nation's largest city-owned parks. On the second and fourth Tuesdays of winter months, visitors can join Reedy Creek Bicycles for a nighttime group ride on the park's trails. Though there are no age or skill level restrictions, helmet and bike lights are required. Dates for the night rides include Jan. 22, Feb. 12 and Feb. 26. The rides begin at 6 p.m., though all dates are subject to weather and trail conditions. Call Reedy Creek Bicycles at (423) 765-2770 or visit their Facebook page for more information.

For more information or to register for activities, find your state park online. Visit Tennessee State Parks at www.tnstateparks.com. Visit Virginia State Park at www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/.

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