At Rest And Play In Appalachia

by : Jim Brown

If someone were to tell you they were going to walk the Appalachian Trail you should probably give them a hug goodbye. It is over 2,000 miles long! The Appalachian Trail stretches from Maine to Georgia; however the heart of Appalachia is in East Tennessee. Many people think of Tennessee as the home to country music in the city of Nashville, or they reflect on the roots of gospel and jazz by walking the streets of Memphis, also known as the city of the King (Elvis). However the northeast corner of Tennessee offers wonderful family fun and a natural environment unlike any other.

Great Smoky Mountains

Made popular in the last two decades by Dollywood, Dolly Parton's theme park and cultural arts center, the Great Smoky Mountains have become a popular getaway. Away from the concerts and homemade taffy stands of Gatlinburg is a stunning natural resource of Appalachia. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers over 800 miles of scenic trails and some of the most beautiful wilderness you will ever encounter. Home to wildlife and wildflowers the park features educational tours, creek side picnic tables, and a quiet restful visit with the grandeur of the Appalachian mountains. The people of East Tennessee are friendly and welcoming and you will encounter everything from fantastic home cooking to amazing mountain music.

Myers pumpkin patch and corn maze

The Myers farm is located slightly west of Greenville, Tennessee in a small town called Bulls Gap. Every year after their harvest is complete the farm turns its massive acreage of corn into a maze of eight-foot high stalks. They also sell pumpkins, gourds, and squash. The maze features three trails from easy to hard and offers daily games for children including: find a gourd in a haystack, pumpkin painting, ring toss, a slide, and a good old-fashioned hayride. Evenings allow families to roast hot dogs and marshmallows over one of their many fire pits and the maze is lit for the "trail of terror" and nighttime walk featuring "scarecrow alley". The maze is open every weekend from September through October. As we pull farther away from our agricultural roots, the Myers farm can help city and country kids remember the importance of farmland in our midst.

Tennessee Aquarium

Probably the last things you'd expect to find in Chattanooga, Tennessee are Penguins; however at the Tennessee aquarium their new penguin exhibition is all the rage. Beyond the playful tuxedoed birds is an entire aquarium facility with thousands of types of fish, mammals, reptiles and plants. The aquarium can be rented for special events and offers educational and conservation tours as well as stunning exhibitions of different types of wildlife from around the world. The animals in Tennessee Aquarium range from the mundane to the stunningly exotic and their seahorse exhibition is not to be missed.

Tennessee may always be the song of the South however with these natural resources in place its easy to see why the Appalachian people can be so rested and so happy.