Toasty warm in my new lightweight down jacket
Our hammocks set up at the 5 mile shelter.
Plums or Persimmons?
Wild Muscadine Grapes
The fruit had fallen to the ground for us to pick up.
Daisies growing in the pavement left in the old road in the woods.
The trails were old roads
Beautiful view of the Tennessee River from the ridgetop
Fireplace in condemned cabin of the old camp
Main building of the old camp
View of the Tennessee River from the old road that connects the east side of the 10 mile trail to the 20 mile trail
The beginning of Fall
The fire was nice since it got into the 40s at night
Which way? We followed the 10 mile trail
Found this Crawfish in the beautiful clear stream where we collected water
Last weekend we did an overnight hiking trip to Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park. It was the first cool(er) weekend in western Tennessee, and it was absolutely beautiful!
This park has connecting loops of trails that can form a 3, 5, 10 or 20 mile hike, which consist mainly of old farm roads, which are now surrounded by woods. This makes for nice wide walking trails, and piques the curiosity about what life must have been like there when there were farms, houses, old, now condemned camp buildings, and left-behind fruit trees on ridge tops that still dropped their fruit for us, such as grapes, apples and (we think) persimmons or plums.
This park is on the west side of the Tennessee River, north of Interstate 40. The trail starts from the highest point in West Tennessee at the Interpretive Center, which is quite a climb in itself to get to by car. There is a hiker’s parking lot to the right just before you get to the interpretive center, and the trail begins behind the center.
Make sure you register at the park office near the entrance first and get a nice color-coded trail map. The employees are very friendly and helpful. They were to close at 4:30, just as we arrived. But when they saw us, very kindly opened back up to register us and give us information.
The first night we hiked about 2 1/2 miles to the shelter on the 5 mile loop. I think it is the prettiest camping area. It’s quite a steep climb straight up the hill to the top of the ridge.
There is water available shortly after the beginning of the hike on the 3 mile loop and just before the last steep climb to the shelter. It would be good to stock up then, because the water we saw on the rest of our hike was not very great. The water before this point was found in the most beautiful clear rocky and sandy streams, which we treated with our Aquamira to make it drinkable.
We hung our hammocks, and made a nice fire because it was very chilly, getting down into the 40s that night. We had our Mountain House white chicken chili for dinner, very good and spicy! And granola and hot coffee for breakfast. We took our time that morning, enjoying our site & warming up.
After packing up, we had intended to finish the 10 mile trail that day, but instead chose to take a shortcut. As we came to the east side of the 10 mile loop (close to the river), it then turned to the west, away from the river, and we never got a good look. The map, however, showed an old road turning to the right, connecting east side of the 10 mile loop to the 20 mile loop. So we chose to go that way, hoping to see the river and some old camp buildings I had read about on the Internet.
We weren’t sure if this was a good idea or not, if the road would peter out. But it did not. It led to the Tennessee River and gave us a nice view, and then turned north to connect with the 20 mile trail, which thankfully has a sign at the junction, making it clear when we had reached it. We were surprised to find on this old connector road that was not officially a trail, actually still had pavement on it, way out here in the middle of nowhere in the woods!
So we turned left on the 20 mile loop, which promptly headed around the base of a ridge and then straight up to the top! And much to our pleasure, just to our right turned out to be the location of the old camp I had seen pictures of, on a very high cliff overlooking the River. The old buildings, though condemned, were very cool to look at, and walking past the main bulding, there was a wonderful view from the top of the ridge of the river.
So from there we went back to the 20 mile trail and followed the trail/old road that went up and down ridge tops. It was very cool and always had wonderful scenery & sometimes views from the tops.
Apparently September is fruit collecting month, because we found wild grapes on the ground, which we were told were Muscadines. On the next hill we found what we thought were plums, but someone else told us they were persimmons. We aren’t sure which. But they were both sweet and a little different, but very interesting! We also found some green apples, which were not very sweet.
We followed the 20 mile trail to the west to the 20 mile shelter and stopped to have our lunch. This campspot had a clearing, but it had a lot of tall grass and was not as nice as the first shelter/camping area.
From there we turned left (South) to follow the trail that connected all the loops and headed back to the Interpretive Center. The whole trail was old roads and was very beautiful. It was easy to walk next to my husband and talk. And it was just very pretty and interesting. Of course the 70 degree weather didn’t hurt!
Finally we made it back to our car, noticing many other side trails along the way that we would love to come back & hike.
Overall it was a wonderful overnight trip, and we were very pleased. I don’t think we saw another single person out on these trails! We had the trails & campsite all to ourselves! We will definitely be going back, and I hope you can make it there!
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