In the northern part of Tennessee, between I-24 and I-40, sits Long Hunter State Park at 2910 Hobson Pike, Hermitage, TN 37076. This scenic state park offers hiking, fishing, boating, biking, and many other activities. For hikers, there are several trails.
The Jason Allen Arboretum trail is a must for all level hikers. By definition, an arboretum is a place where trees, shrubs, and other woody plants are cultivated for scientific study. But this one has many trees and shrubs that were growing naturally along the trail that are a part of the study. The hiker will see 44 stenciled leaves on the trail that mark the tree or plant being studied.
The “Tree ID Walk” is a program with Jason Allen guiding the group at a leisurely pace through the trail and offering information on the trees and plants in Tennessee’s first and only arboretum. For more information, call (615) 885-2422.
“The Nature Circle”, a program for children aged 3-5 years, is an interactive experience featuring nature themed stories, puppets, crafts and other activities for the little ones. These are available in the spring, summer, and fall of the year. Miss Liana and friends hold these activities on Mondays.
The Day Loop Trail is about a four hour hike for the more advanced hiker. Tennessee has over 135 species of butterflies, and 76 have been identified in this park, giving Long Hunter State Park bragging rights to having more identified and documented sightings of different species of butterflies than any other state park. If you are a butterfly enthusiast, this is the place to visit in the fall.
In an article called “Great Hikes in Tennessee State Parks: Three Ways to Hike the Perfect Winter Trail at Long Hunter State Park” by Fran Wallace, the advantages of winter hiking are noted. This park is centered on the spectacular J. Percy Priest Lake. With the leaves gone, the hiker is treated to many views of the lake. There are no pesky insects to guard against, and if its cold enough, the hiker may never break a sweat! Winter is a lovely time of year for hiking, so take advantage of it.
The Jones Mill mountain bike trail features two loops: one two-mile and one four mile. Hikers are also welcome on these loops. Both provide some challenges for the biker, and a nice view of the lake. There is wildlife to observe, and it is said that 2008 saw the arrival of a bald eagle couple that could be seen in that area.
For the fisherman, a valid Tennessee Fishing liscense is all that is needed to enjoy a fishing trip on J. Percy Priest Lake. Striper, and large and small mouth bass are there for the sport fisherman. Crappie, bream, catfish, and rockfish are there to fill the freezer. Power boats are allowed, and life jackets are required.
For a fun filled family day, swimming is allowed in Bryant Grove at your own risk. The bottom can be treacherous for the feet. There is also a playground and volleyball facilities. Covered picnic pavilions may be reserved for larger gatherings and family reunions.
There are many ways to enjoy this wonderful state park for everyone. So go on out for some good natural fun!