Friends’ land preservation celebration highlights new tract

Stone Door

The Friends of South Cumberland State Park’s 17th Trails and Trilliums fundraiser has been set for April 9-11, officials have announced.

This year’s event will be outdoors-only, with masks and social distancing, according to event chair Margaret Matens.

“After canceling last year’s festival, the Friends have worked hard to plan a safe, open-air event,” Matens said. “We know everyone is eager to get out of the house, so support our great state park while treating yourself to an enjoyable, out-in-the-woods weekend.”

The festival, sponsored by Lodge Cast Iron, will again be held on the grounds of the DuBose Conference Center in Monteagle, using the large outdoor pavilion. Overhill Gardens of Knoxville, one of the foremost native plant nurseries in the state, will bring an array of native plants, just in time for gardens. Pre-registration, which will open in early March, will be required for all events in order to facilitate social distancing. Visit www.trailsandtrilliums.org for more festival details and to register.

Programs

As a safer alternative to guided hikes, the Friends will also offer a varied slate of hike choices with a trail host at each trailhead to welcome and orient hikers, according to Matens. Over 30 hikes on 15 different trails are scheduled during the three-day festival, with offerings in each of the park’s three sectors: Lost Cove, Fiery Gizzard and Savage Gulf. Detailed descriptions and level of difficulty for each hike will be posted on the Trails and Trilliums website.

The line-up of programs includes tree identification by State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath, gardening with native plants by June Mays, and a panel on the legacy of the late Mack Prichard, Tennessee’s first State Naturalist. Other presentations will focus on bats, honey bees, fungus, edible plants and wildflowers. A demonstration will teach the art of making wreaths using found items from nature. Editor and author Mary Priestley of Sewanee will give a “sneak peek” of the third edition of “Under the Sun at Sewanee,” to be published this spring.

The annual Cumberland Wild Forum topic will be “The Three Faces of South Cumberland: What the Park Faces in the Future.” South Cumberland Park Manager George Shinn and Friends President John Hille will discuss key challenges facing the park— including increased visitation and added acreage— plus plans for the future.

The inaugural Family Adventure Hike along the Meadow Trail at the park’s welcome center in Monteagle has also been planned. As families hike the 1.5-mile loop trail, they will be searching for hidden fairy houses and gnome homes, watching pioneer re-enacters in action, exploring a fort tunnel, completing a scavenger hunt, and more. This family event is free for children and their families but registration is required.

Registration for the event opens in early March. To register or for more information, visit the Trails and Trilliums website at www.trailsandtrilliums.org.

The Friends of the South Cumberland State Park is a group of volunteers dedicated to supporting the South Cumberland State Park, which, at 30, 837 acres, is the state’s second largest. Learn more by visiting the website at www.friendsofsouthcumberland.org, or visiting Friends of South Cumberland on Facebook.