Not everyone wants to go shopping on Black Friday.
So how about taking a nice hike in the great outdoors instead of hoofing it around the malls?
Enjoy the outdoors, commune with nature and, best of all, walk off some of that Thanksgiving Day food overload.
We should be thankful that our Tennessee State Parks system has included the day after Thanksgiving as one of its four annual all-park hike days, during which all 56 Tennessee parks offer ranger-led hikes and other activities and interpretive programs.
Some focus on nature, some on history and some on volunteerism. Parks officials say the hiking itself ranges from easy to strenuous, including “peaceful strolls to rugged ramblings.”
State Parks Deputy Commissioner Jim Bryson said the signature all-park hike days, which the department started offering almost 10 years ago, have become popular, especially during the holidays.
“The Day After Thanksgiving hikes and First Day hikes have really become a part of families’ holiday traditions over the years,” he said.
“Visitors look forward to having a fun and healthy activity to do together, and to starting the new year off on the right foot,” he said. “That is our hope for these signature events — that folks come back year after year, enjoying their favorite nearby state park or exploring somewhere new.”
Here are a few of the Middle Tennessee guided hikes planned for Nov. 26, the day after Thanksgiving:
• Bicentennial State Capitol Mall State Park in downtown Nashville is offering a 10 a.m. walking park tour where you can learn some history and about nature in Tennessee.
It is an easy flat walk that takes you around this 11-acre park to see the 200-foot granite map of the state, a World War II memorial, a 95-bell carillon, a Pathway of History and the Rivers of Tennessee fountains.
Details and registration: https://tnstateparks.com/events/details/#/?event=day-after-thanksgiving-hike-bcmsp or call 615-795-3515
• Cedars of Lebanon State Park has a 2 p.m. dog-friendly hike (dogs must be leashed) at its Sadie Ford Heritage Farm and Cultural Art Center. The farm occupies 73.3 acres at 5220 Murfreesboro Road in Lebanon, opposite the entrance to Cedars of Lebanon State Park. The house and outbuildings, including a milking barn, a livestock barn and a corncrib, which are characteristic of an early to mid-20th-century working farm, offer an immersive living history experience.
• Port Royal Historical State Park is offering a 9 a.m. Trail of Tears Historical Hike where you can hear the story of Cherokee removal on the northern route of the Trail of Tears and learn about Port Royal’s place along the Trail of Tears. The one-hour program includes a half-mile hike over the preserved portion of the National Historic Trails Trail of Tears at this park in Adams, Tennessee.
Details: https://tnstateparks.com/parks/event_details/port-royal/#/?event=Day-After-Hike-TOT2021 or 931-449-9175
• And if you are looking for a strenuous hike that comes with a volunteer opportunity, join Radnor Lake State Park manager Steve Ward for an off-trail interpretive sunset hike along the new Harris Ridge Trail to one of the park’s newest ridgetops.
This three-hour 3-mile hike, which starts at 2 p.m. from the parking lot of the Episcopal Church of the Advent at 5501 Franklin Road, includes a one-hour volunteer segment midway through the hike to pull invasive-exotic plants along the future trail route.
Details: https://tnstateparks.com/events/details/#/?event=2021-after-thanksgiving-harris-ridge-trail-project-hike or call 615-373-3467.
“Some hikes do have capacity limits, so we ask that all participants register in advance,” said parks spokesperson Kim Schofinski, who said you can register online, by phone or at the park.
“The age range varies for each hike depending on the trail and skill level, but Tennesseans can find an event to suit any age and ability,” she said, noting that the Day After Thanksgiving hikes are among the most popular signature hikes.
The other three signature all-park hike days are the First Day Hike on New Year’s Day, a Spring Hike in March and National Trails Day in June. Details on those will be posted at https://tnstateparks.com/activities/hiking closer to the time they take place.
For more information see https://tnstateparks.com/about/special-events/after-thanksgiving-hikes/.