One of Long Hunter State Park Ranger Jeff Sweeney’s favorite things to do is day hiking.
He’s in luck because Long Hunter has wonderful day hikes with beautiful views. There’s more than just day hiking; “there are two types of hiking in the park, backpacking and day hiking,” Sweeney said.
Day hiking is spending the day hiking but leaving the trail at the end of the day. Backpacking is day hiking but with overnight camping on the trail. One trail at Long Hunter is perfect for both types of hiking, The Volunteer Trail.
With the trailhead located at the short end of Baker’s Grove Road in Hermitage, the five and a half mile, one-way trail takes about six hours to complete round trip. Or, by making a reservation, hikers can camp overnight at the end of the Volunteer Trail and finish the hike the next day.
When it comes to hiking gear, Sweeney has lots of valuable information.
“Contrary to belief, hiking boots work well but most people get better results with hiking shoes” he said. And hydration is key; Sweeney said that the optimal amount of water to carry for a day hike is one to two liters per person. Even socks are important when it comes to hiking. Sweeney said, “medium weight work well for drying fast and resisting hot spots which turn into blisters.”
Not only socks but shirts and pants as well must be carefully considered before going out on the trail. Sweeney suggests wearing sweat wicking, quick-drying clothing for maximum comfort. Finally, a small first aid kit, flashlight, snacks and bug spray handily complete any day hiker’s pack.
Day hiking or backpacking, don’t let the summer pass you by without going on a hike through the woods. If you are interested in hiking Long Hunter State Park, then Sweeney regularly hosts free guided hikes. His hikes schedule will be listed on the park’s upcoming events page on its website. Contact the park at (615) 885-2422 for details or stop by the visitor’s center at 2910 Hobson Pike in Hermitage to pick up a hiking map.
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.