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Un-Park Yourself: Explore Tennessee’s beauty

Get off the couch!

So the music scene and night life out here are alright, but if all Murfreesboro’s daytime activities have already escaped your interest, have no fear. While the ?Boro may conjure images of traffic, restaurants and, well, more traffic, geographic variety lays just a short drive away.

Home to 54 state parks, Tennessee provides ample opportunity for anyone anywhere in the state to explore some aspect of the wilderness. Whether you prefer hiking, swimming, rock climbing, fishing or camping, there is a park for you. With eight state parks within about an hour drive of Murfreesboro, put your excuses away and get out of town.

Cedars of Lebanon

Ok, the cedars are actually junipers. Juniper berries are an ingredient of gin; F. Scott Fitzgerald enjoyed gin; F. Scott Fitzgerald was rich and famous; go to Cedars of Lebanon and you’ll be rich and famous. If that flawless logic doesn’t get you there, perhaps the guided horseback rides will.

Campsites with facilities (bathrooms, running water) allow for an overnight stay and an on-site pool will cool you down in the summer.

Long Hunter

A valid Tennessee fishing license is all you need for some crappie fishing on J. Percy Priest Lake. Also bass, rockfish, stripe, bream and catfish await all you hookers.

Cool off with a dip in designated areas of the lake or take a hike on one of the easy hiking trails. Overnight camping available.

Old Stone Fort

Home to a 2,000-year-old American Indian ceremonial site. The entrance complex aligns with summer solstice (June 21), which looks pretty cool if you want to check it out at 5 a.m.

“There is no actual old stone fort in the park,” says park ranger Stephanie Barton. “When early Europeans came through, they thought the area looked like a European stone fort.”

Fortunately, they didn’t think a Wal-Mart would look good in place of the ceremonial site. The Duck River provides a relaxing spot for fishing, and there are campsites with facilities.

Bicentennial

In the shadow of the capitol building in downtown Nashville, there is no wilderness here. Take your second graders here for some Tennessee history and plenty of sidewalk space.

Radnor Lake

Nature hikes offer the opportunity to see geese, heron, coots, salamanders, frogs, snakes, lizards, turtles, humans and other various animals. Not just a funny word, a coot is any aquatic bird of the genus Fulica, characterized by lobate toes and short wings and tail?that or a foolish or crotchety old person, especially one who is old. One or both forms of coot are present at Radnor Lake, depending on the season.

Henry Horton

Campsites and fishing on the Duck River. Cabins available for those with arsiphobia (fear of camping). A restaurant, golf course and swimming pool provide the comfort of civilized living. This is the park for the not-so-outdoorsy explorer.

Harpeth River

Many outfitters provide canoe/kayak rental for a calm float down the Narrows of the Harpeth. Swimming and fishing with license are allowed, but camping and drinking the river water are not.

South Cumberland

This park spans four counties and 10 different attraction areas. Hiking is the big deal with almost 100 miles of trail and 18 different trails ranging from easy to difficult. Free guided tours of Buggy Top Cave are available once a month for the inexperienced spelunker, and the cave is open for unguided exploration during daylight. Many waterfalls offer spectacular scenery and a place to cool off in the summer.

If rock climbing is your squeeze, this is the park for you.

“Foster Falls is one of the most popular destinations for sport climbing in the country,” says park manager John Christof. “We get climbers from all over the world.”

Make sure you leave the booze at home though because prohibition still stands in Tennessee state parks. Most parks’ hours are from about 8 a.m. until sundown, so make a day of it. Grab some friends and check out what our state has to offer!

For more info and directions Click here

Travel Times (from Murfreesboro)

Cedars of Lebanon?29 min. ? 19 mi.

Long Hunter?34 min. ? 27 mi.

Old Stone Fort?38 min. ? 34 mi.

Bicentennial?41 min. ? 36 mi.

Radnor Lake?45 min. ? 34 mi.

Henry Horton?50 min. ? 38 mi.

Harpeth River?1 hr. 4 min. ? 57 mi.

South Cumberland?1 hr. 5 min. ? 60 mi.

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The Murfreesboro Pulse: Middle Tennessee’s Source for Art, Entertainment and Culture News.

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