In celebration of National Public Lands Day Saturday, Sept. 29, Chris Coxen will lead a loop hike from Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Area through the Cherokee National Forest to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, returning via the Overmountain National Historic Trail.
The hike will begin at 10 a.m., and volunteers should bring food, water, high energy snacks, sturdy hiking footwear (no sandals or open-toed shoes), a hat, jacket, rain gear and sunscreen. Long pants are also advised.
The hike will originate at the natural area parking lot and traverse fields and actively grazed pastures, following the Birchfield Trail along the left prong of Hampton Creek through a northern hardwood forest community where yellow birch, striped maple, northern red oak and tulip poplar are dominant species.
From the upper reaches of the Birchfield Trail, the hike will follow an old woods road until it reaches the Appalachian Trail, where it will turn west to Yellow Mountain Gap. At this junction, the hike route will turn north onto the Overmountain Victory Trail, commemorating the historic route of the Overmountain Men in their march to the Revolutionary War’s 1780 Battle of King’s Mountain, then returning to the parking lot.
The hike is seven miles round trip and includes an elevation gain of 2,100 feet. Reservations are required by contacting email@example.com. For more information, contact Chris Coxen at (910) 315-5549.
National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest one-day, volunteer stewardship event. Organizers seek to honor the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps in protecting America’s public lands. Last year, more than 170,000 volunteers across the country built trails, planted trees and removed litter to improve America’s shared lands for all who visit them.
“National Public Lands Day is a wonderful tradition that combines the opportunity to get outdoors with the spirit of volunteerism,” said Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau. “Tennessee is the Volunteer State and we encourage everyone to join us in this statewide effort, helping us preserve and protect our great state parks and natural areas.”
National Public Lands Day began in 1994 with just three federal agencies and 700 volunteers. Today, this annual program of the National Environmental Education Foundation has grown to involve more than 105,000 volunteers at over 2,000 locations in every state across the nation. Chartered by Congress in 1990, the National Environmental Education Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization that develops and supports environmental learning programs to meet social goals and build partnerships among government, the private sector and non-governmental organizations. Those interested in organizing a National Public Lands Day project or volunteering can call (202) 833-2933, or go to www.publiclandsday.org.
This year’s theme is Helping Hands for America’s Lands and the continued protection of these treasured places that belong to all Americans.
TDEC’s State Natural Areas Division, along with several Tennessee State Parks, will sponsor a number of volunteer stewardship projects and outdoor events across the state in recognition of Public Lands Day, including the hike to Hampton Creek Cove Natural Area.