Every season at Long Hunter State Park, located on the east side of Percy Priest Lake, is a real treat. However, autumn is an especially beautiful experience at the park.
The most obvious beauty of the season is the stunning foliage. This year the park and surrounding area suffered from a lack of rain all through the month of September. Typically, that spells disaster for the beautiful fall colors. Thankfully the trees pulled through and there are still plenty of colorful leaves at Long Hunter.
The sun plays a “starring” role in the autumnal process. As the days get shorter, giving us less sunlight each day, the trees recognize that they need to start going into hibernation. The trees stop producing chlorophyll in their leaves (a chemical that makes leaves green and is vital in producing food for the trees) and the colors that are there in the leaves all along finally show through.
This process of color changing leaves applies only to hardwoods. Trees that are green all year are called evergreens, such as the Eastern Red Cedar, and can also be found in droves at Long Hunter for those of you still hanging on to summer.
In addition to the beautiful leaves the local animals on the park take full advantage of additional bounties that the trees offer. This time of year, persimmons and hickory nuts are in good supply to help the animals prepare for winter.
The best trails at Long Hunter to see the fall colors are the Couchville Lake trail, Day Loop trail and the Inland trail.
Come by the Long Hunter Visitor Center located at 2910 Hobson Pike in Hermitage, visit our website at tnstateparks.com/parks/long-hunter or call (615) 885-2422 for more information.
Brochures, a gift shop, park maps,and trail information are also available at the park’s Visitor Center to help make each visit to Long Hunter a memorable one, no matter the season.
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.