Our search for the best fall foliage continues. Until now we have not been very lucky with it near Solo’s farm. Moreover, Solo has been asking around if someone knew a spot where the colors might have turned. No one had found that perfect place yet. We will find it, and if not, well, I can always come back in another fall. The weather forecast for Wednesday is in our favor, but that will change on Thursday and Friday. So we decide to save Thursday for cooking jams of pears and hot peppers and Friday for a new shopping trip to Cookeville. However, for today, Wednesday, we are going to the Cedars of Lebanon State Park. It is not too far away from the farm to get there and return the same day, but it will still take up most of the day.
The Eastern Red Cedar trees, common to the area, give the Park its name. We are hoping to find some great colors, some caves to visit and some shorter beautiful hiking tours as well.
Finding our way to the park’s entrance is harder than expected. We thought for a while that we had missed a sign, or messed up at an intersection before we finally found it. Now we are off to the visitor center. They should have a map or other information about the park for us before we are starting our tour around.
Caves in the Cedars of Lebanon State Park
We want to go to Jackson Cave first and see if we can get inside. I do not think I have ever been in a cave before. Unfortunately, a sign at its entrance tells us that we have to register to enter the cave. To do so, we have to either go back to the visitor center or register with a park ranger. Right now there is, of course, no park ranger around and we do not want to trace our path back to the visitor center. So no cave visit. Maybe we will visit a cave somewhere else while I am here. Solo explains that there are plenty of caves in Tennessee, so it should not be an issue to find one to visit.
In the first part of the 19th century, the park’s area was almost cleared of all cedar wood, as it was in high demand. In the 1930s the Works Progress Administration (WPA) reestablished the area as a park. It opened in 1937. Today Cedars of Lebanon State Park is the home of the largest amount of Eastern Red Cedar trees in the U.S.A.
Eastern Red Cedar is not an actual cedar tree, but a juniper tree–but they are related.
Cedar Forest Trail
Since the cave has not worked out for us, we try out the two mile Cedar Forest Trail next. When it comes to fall colors, we are not so very lucky here. However, this little hike proves that the camera strap that I have been using for a while is not working for hiking. Not only is my camera bumping against my hip, but I also have to catch it regularly from crashing into some tree. A broken camera is the last thing I need. However, it is annoying that I have to be on guard all the time. It distracts me from enjoying the Park and slows me down, so it becomes hard to keep up with Solo. I need a better solution for this camera-strap-mess before we go to the Great Smoky Mountains…
For today our hike has come to an end. It has not been as successful as we had been hoping, but still, I enjoyed it a lot. Next time I want to come a little better prepared for these State Parks. Yes, last year Solo had sent me some magazines with information about the Tennessee State Parks in fall. I did read them all. However, I should have made notes too. I should have figured out what would interest me–well everything does somehow. Instead, Solo found me a website with all State Parks and asked me to do my research. I felt overwhelmed by the amount of information accessible…and cannot say that I did a good job.
Yea, I should have come better prepared. Next time I know 🙂