For a peaceful, relaxing time in the great outdoors, check out the Big Cypress Tree State Park in western Tennessee. This 27-acre park is located in a natural area of the floodplain of the Obion River that measures 330 acres total. The park took its name from what was the largest tree east of the Mississippi River, a national champion bald cypress tree that grew to a circumference of 40 feet. The tree lived for 1,350 years. Sadly, in 1976, the tree was struck by lightning, which knocked off the top and killed the tree.
However, the many types of trees and flowers at the Big Cypress Tree State Park remain one of its biggest attractions for nature lovers. The park houses dozens of different varieties of plant life, with flowers including black-eyed Susans and beautiful evening primrose. The many types of trees, including bald cypress, dogwood, river birch, sweet gum, and yellow poplar, can be viewed and identified throughout the park, as well as on the .3-mile tree identification trail. This trail features markers and educational signs, and remains dry and open all year round.
The wildlife at the park is also a great attraction. Of course, there are plenty of deer and squirrels around to see. Butterflies are attracted to the hundreds of colorful flowers at the park. In the skies, visitors can enjoy sighting bats, bluebirds, hawks, doves and many other types of birds. Big Cypress Tree State Park also hosts an annual Fall Festival, during which bird observation is included, along with the opportunity to see a bald eagle and other birds of prey up close. The festival features arts and crafts along with musical entertainment, and there are story telling and plant and animal identification activities.
Though there is no camping at the park, picnicking is welcomed and encouraged. The park offers ample, scenic grounds for picnics and cookouts in a setting with lots of shade provided by the many trees. There are several picnic tables and charcoal grill areas available for day trips. In addition, there is a large shelter area for gatherings and events. The shelter features five picnic tables, water, electricity, two grills, and restroom facilities, and can accommodate up to 35 people. Restrooms are also available near the picnic grounds for public use. This shelter is a popular place for birthday parties, reunions and church social functions.
Other recreational activities are also available at the park. There is a play area with equipment for children 10 and under near the picnic area. There is also a basketball hoop, and a large ball field with a backstop that is available for softball or other open area activities. The field is free for use on a first come, first serve basis.
You can find more information about Big Cypress Tree State Park on their official web site at http://www.state.tn.us/environment/parks/BigCypress/, or by calling 731-235-2700.