Molly Stophel - Long Hunter - Copy

Molly Stophel

Thanksgiving is here, a special time to spend reflecting on the people and things that we are grateful for.

Just hours after Thanksgiving comes a different and chaotic unofficial holiday: Black Friday. For those of us who wish to avoid that holiday there is thankfully a nearby haven. 

Long Hunter State Park offers roughly 30 miles of quiet hiking trails to help walk off the turkey and view the few remaining bits of fall color, all for free. Be it a hike through the woods, by a lake or through a cedar glade, the park has a little bit of something for everyone and is open 365 days a year, 7 a.m. to sunset. 

Located on the east side of J. Percy Priest Lake, the park is snuggly tucked right in between I-40 and I-24 on TN SR 171. 

If solitude is not your style you might consider joining Long Hunter’s own Ranger Jeffrey Sweeney on a hike called “The Long Hunter Thankful Mile” on the one-mile Inland Trail. Ranger Sweeney, an avid fan of hiking and geography, will be discussing the transition of fall into winter, what makes the Inland Trail special, and encourage hikers to share in discussion on things they are thankful for.

Free registration for Ranger Sweeney’s 1 p.m. hike is on the park’s website tnstateparks.com/parks/long-hunter in the Upcoming Events section. 

The After Thanksgiving Hike is part of a series of annual hikes put on by the state parks service. All 56 of the sprawling Tennessee State Parks participate every year. This year, instead of a frenzied shopping fiasco, try a quiet hike at beautiful Long Hunter (and maybe stick to online shopping). 

Molly Stophel is the front desk clerk for Long Hunter State Park. She grew up walking the Couchville Lake Trail and still considers it her favorite part of the park.

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