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Summer 2021 Staff Picks

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Summer Staff Picks

Now that summer has officially arrived, The Land Trust for Tennessee Staff has offered up some of their favorite hikes, activities, movies, books, and more to share in case you’re looking for inspiration on an upcoming gorgeous Tennessee day!


Emily Parish, Vice President
The Upper Duck River is very chill and a great introduction to kayaking or canoeing for beginners. And of course, it is beautiful! Fab on the Duck is a great kayak rental company that we’ve used many times for our trips.

Other recommendations:
If being on the water isn’t your thing, my girls recommend catching fireflies! 

Ellen Messerly, Community Engagement Coordinator
Definitely Fiery Gizzard Trail at South Cumberland State Park. This hike is not for the faint of heart! The journey along the Fiery Gizzard Trail up to Raven’s Point was well worth the sore feet for the multiple waterfalls along the way and the beautiful view at the end. 

Mike Szymkowicz, Stewardship Manager
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area would be near the top of my recommendation list of places to explore in [Tennessee]. This public space is a hidden gem. The landscape is rugged, the public space is vast, and the attendance is low enough to give you the feeling of having the whole place to yourself at times. There are plenty of easily accessible overlooks to watch a sunset or just enjoy the stillness. There are also endless opportunities to get in the water or find yourself under natural arches. It’s a place I think everyone should experience if they are looking for wide open spaces without the crowds. 

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

Sarah Quinn, Director of Development
Fall Creek Falls is a fun and easy day trip from Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga. This Tennessee State Park has a ton of hiking trails with beautiful views of multiple falls throughout, with the largest being Fall Creek Falls at over 250 feet high.

Paul Malone, Director of Finance
If you’re looking for a great day trip hike or overnight camping with some beautiful scenery, check out the Virgin Falls State Natural Area in White County, TN. The trail to Virgin Falls, rated by most as ‘hard’, is a shady 9-mile out-and-back and features a scenic overlook of Scott’s Gulf, multiple karst features, and four waterfalls. Reserve a campsite at Martha’s Pretty Point and hit the nearby overlook early enough to watch the morning fog dissipate from over the Caney Fork River 1,000 feet below.  

Virgin Falls State Natural Area

Lynn Lentz, Administrative Coordinator
I’m looking forward to The Lego Exhibit at Cheekwood! It will definitely be fun for my grandchildren to see giant LEGO creations and inspire their (and our) creativity. Their grandfather used to work for LEGO and they have a lot of fun building together when they visit. I can only imagine what they will want to build after the tour! 

Other fun recommendations for in and around Nashville (or at home!):

  • Visit National Museum of African American Music
  • See live music at Ascend Amphitheater  
  • See live music at Ryman Auditorium (tours also available)
  • Plan a Gulch/Downtown rooftop bar tour (beginning with Acme Feed & Seed and Bobby Hotel)
  • Movies in the Park @Elmington Park (month of June)
  • Movies: In the Heights, Luca, Summer of Soul
  • Books: (new) While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams, (available in paperback) Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

Brickey Nuchols, Donor Engagement Coordinator & Resident Historian
I definitely think that Frozen Head State Park would be one of my suggestions for people this summer. It’s located about 2 hours east of Nashville in Roane County. One of the coolest things was that there were Eastern Newts EVERYWHERE!

Frozen Head State Park

Amanda Clelland, Communications Manager
I’ve always loved being out on the water, and now that I live just a stone’s throw from a put-in along the Harpeth River, I’ll be kayaking every chance I get! I went on a weekend in mid-June when the current was particularly slow – so while that meant sore arms from having to paddle more than float, it also meant the river was quiet and there weren’t too many people out. You just can’t ask for a better way to spend a quiet, sunny Saturday morning than that.

Other recommendations:
I love to read – and I particularly love history. So if you’re looking for a great book to dive into and really geek out, I’ve been enjoying the newest book by Marc Morris, The Anglo-Saxons. It covers English history before the arrival of William the Conqueror and the Norman Invasion in 1066.

Sarah O’Rear, Director of Stewardship
Rafting on the Hiwassee River with the Webb Brothers!

Virginia Comer, Development Manager & Board Liaison
I would highly recommend visiting Leiper’s Fork, which is filled with great restaurants and shops. The area is also a great example of the importance of land conservation.

If you are looking to cool off with a fun indoor experience, the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga has some great exhibits!