By MARION MINER
For The Vista
The bad news is that we all know what a harsh winter it has been, but the good news is that spring is just around the corner, as the saying goes, and it is time to start stretching all those muscles that may not have been used since our chili cook off last November.
Why, you might ask. It is because the Fairfield Glade Hiking Group is beginning its spring 2014 season on Friday, March 14 with the first of 13 invigorating hikes throughout eastern Tennessee.
This informal group of people hikes every Friday until the first Friday in June.
If you are new to the area and are thinking of trying some hikes you are welcome to join us.
The first 4 hikes are all easy so these are the ones to try out to see if you are ready for the moderate hikes we have scheduled. The following is the schedule of hikes.
Participants in the hikes should be in good physical condition. Walking on paved and level surfaces does not compare with hiking on uneven trails with elevation gains and losses
March 14 – A local hike through some heavily forested areas in Fairfield Glade. This is a tune up for our hiking season. This will be an easy hike that is 4 miles long
March 21 – Twin Rocks/Stinging Falls. This is a new hike for the group that is 4 miles and easy.
March 28 – Rock Island/Burgess Falls. These are 2 hikes that are easy for a total of 4.5 miles.
April 4 – Old Stone Fort. Archaeologists suggest this area was used as an Indian ceremonial site and was begun nearly 2000 year ago. This is an easy hike of 4 miles.
April 11 – Norris Dam. This is an easy hike with scenic views along the riverbank of Norris Lake near Lake City. The hike is 5 miles.
April 18 – Turkey Creek Loop. This is a somewhat unknown trail very close to The Glade in the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area near Devil’s Breakfast Table. This is a 5.5 mile hike rated moderate.
April 25 –Possum Gorge – Upper Section. We will hike part of the Possum Gorge section of the Cumberland Trail. This is rated moderate and is 6.5 miles.
May 1 and 2 – Overnight in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Townsend, TN. Both hikes are rated moderate. One is 7 miles and the other is 5.
May 9 – Cumberland Trail – new bridge. Another new hike for us that is rated easy and is 4 miles in length.
May 16 – Frozen Head Spicewood, South Old Mac. Frozen Head is one of the highest peaks in the Cumberland Mountains. This is a 6.2 mile hike rated moderate.
May 23 –Seven Islands Wildlife Rescue – You may want to bring your binoculars and a bird book as this is renowned as a birding area. This is an easy hike. We may hike up to 5 miles, but the trails are mostly grassy mowed fields.
May 30 – Bald River Falls – This hike is in the Cherokee National Forest. It is 6 miles and rated moderate.
June 6 – Wexford/Rotherham. This hike is in The Glade and is one of the trails that the workers of the Friends of The Glade Trails have created. It is 3 miles long and is easy. After this short hike we will have our end of the season cookout.
As a general rule hikes up to 5 miles in length and elevation gains less than 1000 feet are rated easy.
Hikes of 5 – 8 miles in length with elevation gains less than 1500 feet are usually considered moderate.
Hikes over 8 miles, or those with substantial elevation gains or rough terrain, may be rated strenuous.
These ratings are subjective and will depend on the physical conditioning and mental readiness of the participant. A participant will sometimes find their own assessment of the difficulty of the hike to differ from the posted rating.