Area state parks offer first day hikes

Several area Tennessee State Parks will kick off New Year’s Day with Guided First Day Hikes. (File Photo)

Tennessee State Parks will sponsor free, guided hikes on New Year’s Day. Many state parks will host its own special hike. It’s a great way to safely spend time with friends and family to kick off the new year. Here are those happening closest to Lynchburg:

WINCHESTER | Tims Ford State Park — Local rangers will lead locals on a 2.5 mile loop hike out the Lost Creek Overlook Trail to the Lost Creek Overlook and return on the Overlook Trail. Online registration is required and due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event will be limited to 50 hikers. This is a free hike, however donations are encouraged and will go toward firefighting supplies and equipment to keep the parks safe and beautiful. Hikers should meet at 10 a.m. at the Visitors Center. Click here for more information.

MANCHESTER | Old Stone Fort State Park — Meet Ranger Caleb Doster at the Old Fort State Park Museum Roof at 1 p.m. for a two hour strenuous hike along the 3.5 mile Backbone Trail. Hikers will walk along the Enclosure Trail and see the prehistoric Native American Mounds while discussing their cultural significance to the area. As you hike, you will see both the Big and Little Duck Rivers, as well as the three magnificent waterfalls. Temperature on Friday will hover around 70 degrees but there is an 80 percent chance of rain, so dress accordingly. Hikers are encouraged to bring their own water and wear sturdy hiking shoes. Leashed dogs are welcome. For more information, click here.

BEERSHEBA SPRING | South Cumberland State Park — There is no more picturesque spot in south central Tennessee that Stone Door located inside South Cumberland State Park. Park Ranger Kristin Willis will lead hikers on a two mile hike to the best overlook in the park. Meet at 1183 Stone Door Road at 9 a.m. There’s a 90 percent chance of rain on Friday and temperatures should be in the mid-sixties. Dress appropriately. Click here for more information.

Tennessee State Parks’ First Hikes are part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states. Most hikes are free but each state park accepts donations. To see all the First Day Hikes being offered in our state on January 1, 2021, click here.•

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

The best place to see the rare “Christmas Star”

An astronomical phenomenon known as the Christmas Star or the Great Conjunction of 2020 will reach peak brightness in Lynchburg on December 21. (File Photo)

Many of us top our Christmas trees with a star or decorate with stars at the holiday. It’s a nod to the Nativity story found in Matthew 2:2 in which a group of foreigners come looking for the new king and use a bright “star in the east” to find him.

Now through December 21, if look up right after sunset, you just might see something similar – and astronomical phenomenon many are calling the Christmas Star or Bethlehem Star of 2020.

The so-called Christmas Star really isn’t a star at all. Instead, our solar systems two largest planets, Jupiter and Saturn, will move very close together – so close, in fact, that they will look like a single bright planet. Astronomers are calling this event the Great Conjunction of 2020, and it’s causing a buzz in both astronomer and social media circles.

It’s an event 400 years in the making and the most visible the phenomenon has been in the last 800 years.

“The last time Jupiter and Saturn have been this close was 1623 and Galileo wrote about it,” says local astronomer Billy Hix. “So, when you view it, you are standing on the shoulders of someone like Galileo who saw the same view many years ago.”

Hix says the “Christmas Star” will reach peak brightness on December 21 and the best spots in Moore County to view the Christmas Star will be hilltops, away from city lights, with unobstructed views to the south-southwest. Hix says you won’t need a telescope or binoculars to see it and because these planets are located near the horizon, viewing will be best just after sunset.

“A nice open field, a ball field, any place that is high and gives you a clear view of the horizon,” says Hix. “Don’t go outside at 8 p.m. and wonder where to look – it is too late. This is only going to be visible about one hour after sunset.”

It’s genuinely a once-on-a-lifetime event. It hasn’t happened since 1623 and won’t happen again until 2080. Hix says he encourages locals, especially those with young kids, to participate.

“I beg you to take the kids to see this event,” he says. “The last time it was visible in the night sky for everyone to see was in the fall of the year 1226.   Think about the world at that time.   That was the first year that the Julian calendar took effect.”

To learn more about the Great Conjunction of 2020, read the article on Astronomy Magazine by clicking here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Area state parks plan Day After Thanksgiving Hikes

Four area state parks — Old Stone Fort, Henry Horton, Cumberland Trail, and South Cumberland — will offer Day After Thanksgiving Hikes on November 27. (Photos Provided)

Mark your calendar for November 27, skip the Black Friday shopping, and work off a few of those turkey calories with these four Day After Thanksgiving Hike at Middle Tennessee state parks.

MANCHESTER — Join Park Ranger Keith Wimberley for a guided hike around Old Stone Fort State Park. Hikers will walk a leisurely 1.25 mile path that follows along the Little Duck and Duck Rivers while discussing the pre-history, history, and geology of the area. The event is free (though donations are welcome) and will be limited to 50 people. Registration is required. Click here to reserve your spot.

MONTEAGLE — South Cumberland State Park in Grundy County and Ranger Jessie plan a guided hike through the picturesque Grundy Forest Natural Area to discuss the native plants and animals that inhabit the area. This two mile hike is rated as moderate due to rocky terrain, exposed roots, and some minor elevation change. The hike is free (though donations are welcome) but registration is required. Click here to reserve your spot.

CHAPEL HILL — Rangers at Henry Horton State Park in nearby Chapel Hill plan an organized hike through the Hickory Ridge and River Trails. It’s a easy, 3.5 mile hike that’s suitable for all ages and hiking abilities. Ranger Julia and Park Manager Ryan will stop along the way to point out various natural and historical features along the way. The hike is free (though donations are welcome) but registration is required. Click here to reserve your spot.

CROSSVILLE — Exchange Black Friday for Black Mountain at this Cumberland Trail State Park Guided Hike. Ranger Mike Croley will guide hikers across the northern rim of the Sequatchie Valley to the stunning boulder formations. It’s a 1.5 mile roundtrip hike that should take around two hours. The hike is free (though donations are welcome) but registration is required. Click here to reserve your spot.

All hikers should wear good walking shoes (no sandals), and bring their own drinking water. Daytime highs that day will be around 63 degree, so dress appropriately for the weather. For more information, visit the Tennessee State Parks website. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Watch where you step, it’s baby copperhead season

Going for a hike to see the fall colors? Great. But watch where you step. It’s baby copperhead season in Tennessee. (File Photo)

LOCAL NEWS — It’s baby snake season here in southern, middle Tennessee. Of the four venomous snakes found in Tennessee (copperheads, timber rattlesnakes, pygmy rattlesnakes, and cottonmouths or water moccasins), locals should be most wary of baby copperheads.

Females give live birth to between one and 21 baby snakes each fall with seven being the average. These youngsters blend in nearly perfectly in fallen leaves and ground cover. They don’t like open spaces like fields and instead will hide under logs, rocks, and leaf piles. They’ve been know to follow prey into backyards where they remain wrapped around pet watering bowl or inside a child’s toy. Those clearing debris in an overgrown area, or those cleaning out barns or outbuildings should be especially careful.

They aren’t especially aggressive but will strike if cornered. A copperhead bite isn’t usually life-threatening for adult as their venom isn’t all that potent but a bite can quickly escalate in a small child or pet.

If you encounter one, its best just to walk away say the folks at the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency. Attempting to kill or remove the snake could result in a bite. Plus, unless it poses an immediate threat, all snakes in Tennessee are protected and indiscriminate killing is illegal. Why? Because they serve a purpose in the local ecosystem, says the state UT Extension office.

“Snakes play a vital role in our natural communities, helping keep rodent populations in check and providing food for other predators,” they say on their website. “If snakes are common around the house, it is probably because there is an abundance of rodents in the area.”

According to the Tennessee Herpetological Society, venomous snakes in Tennessee all belong to a family of snakes called pit vipers, who have specialized, heat sensing pit on the front of their head. They possess an arrowhead shaped head that is offset from the rest of their body. With non-venomous snakes it’s often hard to tell where the head ends and the body begins. They also have vertical eyes with an elliptical pupil.

Only 10-12 people die from snake bites each year in the United State. In the past 40 year, there have only been seven recorded deaths from snakebites in Tennessee, according to Craig Harper, an Extension Wildlife Specialist. If bitten, you should immediately seek medical treatment.•

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Tims Ford plans outdoor survival school

Learn the keys to outdoor survival at Tim’s Ford Forged at the Ford. {File Photo}

FRANKLIN COUNTY — Think you could survive for three days and two nights on an island in Tims Ford Lake with just a handful of gear? Then you should definitely register for the next Forged at the Ford Outdoor Survival School, which will take place October 16-18. Registration ends on October 9, and there are limited spots available.

A Tims Ford Park Ranger will teach campers a variety of survival basics using minimal equipment and resources. Participants will learn friction fire, shelter building, knots, and more. During the three days, campers will live off the land by learning wild edible plants, trapping, fishing, and outdoor cooking. Rangers designed the program for all skill levels but campers must be at least 14 years old to attend and campers 14-17 years old must be accompanied by an adult.

The list of required gear includes a fixed blade knife, ferrocerium rod, screw top water bottle, hatchet or axe, 8×10 tarp, 50 feet of paracord, a flashlight or headlamp, a small metal pot, a sleeping bag, fishing line with assorted hooks, and a extra set of clothes in a waterproof container. Optional gear will include a hand saw, insect repellent, and a small first aid kit. All campers will be inventoried upon arrival.

Forged at the Ford is a rain or shine event. The price is $200 per camper. For more information, contact the Tims Ford Park Office at 931-958-3536 or visit their website. To register for the event, click here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Deer archery season opens September 26

Deer Archery-only season will open statewide in Tennessee on Saturday. {File Photo}

OUTDOORS | It’s a rite of passage for Volunteer State hunters each fall. On Saturday, September 26 the 2020 Deer Archery-only season will open statewide in Tennessee and run September 26 through October 30 and November 2-6. Once deer season opens officially, hunters may use archery equipment throughout the season, which will end on January 3.

For local hunters looking for opportunities, the state offers over 100 wildlife management areas (WMA) and refuges for hunts. Click here for a list of the WMAs. Southern middle Tennessee exists in Region II and includes nearby WMA at AEDC, Woods Reservoir Refuge, Flintville Hatchery, and Mingo Swamp. Click here for more information.

Regardless of the hunting location, all hunters must possess a current, valid hunting license and the state reminds hunters that they must obtain permission from landowners to hunt on private land.

For more information, you can access the 2020 Tennessee Hunting Guide by clicking here. You can also visit the TWRA website for more information. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

5 Things to Do This Weekend

A hike past Adams Falls, an art show on the picturesque Monte Sano Mountain, and a whiskey tasting at a charming Winchester distillery … yeah there are lot of safe, small venue, socially distanced things to do this weekend. {File Photos}

We get it. Everyone grows weary of being stuck inside. As fall approaches, there are lots of outdoor or small venue events happening in southern, middle Tennessee that present an opportunity to safely get out and explore. So mask up, grab the hand sanitizer, stay six feet apart, wash your hands, and enjoy a little socially-distanced fun.

Hike in Tullahoma — Summer is winding down and with the first day of fall right around the corner, locals better grab all those opportunities to explore outside. On Sunday, you can explore the Short Springs, Adam Falls area with Tennessee State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath. The guided 2.5 mile hike will begin and end at the parking lot on Short Springs Road. Hikers will enjoy the moderate Adam’s Falls Trail past Machine Falls while enjoying gorgeous flora and fauna of the South Cumberland along the way. This hike will be limited to 12 people and you can sign up by calling 931-455-1121. Masks are recommended. For more information, click here.

Antique Tractor Show in Eagleville — If you are heading to the Moore County versus Forrest game on Friday anyways and you happen to have a little man who is all about tractors, leave a little early and stop by the Pioneer Days Antique Tractor Show on the way. Hosted by the Tennessee Valley Pioneer Power Association, and features lots of makes and models of antique tractors, trucks, cars, lawn tractors, and other gas powered engines. The free event takes place on Friday and Saturday. For more information, click here.

Art Show in Huntsville — It’s been an end of summer tradition on Monte Sano Mountain for two decades, and it will happen in 2020 with a few social distancing measure in place to keep everyone safe. The Monte Sano Art Festival kicks off on Saturday at 9 a.m. and will feature over 100 local and regional artists as well as area food trucks. Attendees must wear a mask. For more information, click here.

Whiskey Tasting in Winchester — There’s a charming little distillery located right off the historic Winchester Square call Branchwater. Master Distiller Bud Kelley makes some fabulous (and potent) southern, middle moonshine there. On Thursday, they’ll host a Ladies Night. Local gals are invited to come from 3-7 p.m. and taste some of what they have to offer including their new frozen drinks. For more information, click here.

Food Trucks at Beans Creek Winery — A local winery is great. A local winery with a food truck is outstanding. On Saturday Mark’s Specialty Seafood will return to Bean’s Creek Winery in Manchester for both lunch and dinner. Enjoy a refreshing wine slushy as well as seafood favorites like fried scallops, conch fritters, lobster roll, catfish fingers, and more. For more information, click here.

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

150,000 Purple Martins roost in downtown Nashville

Thousands of Purple Martin take over the trees near the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in downtown Nashville. {Photo Provided}

NASHVILLE — Due to COVID-19, the Nashville Symphony isn’t currently performing but there’s still a show happening nightly in downtown Nashville. An estimated 150,000 Purple Martins have taken up roost in the tourist district on the plaza outside the Schermerhorn Symphony Center … and they are causing quite the stir.

Purple Martin exist as a staple of Tennessee summers. They arrive each March, many to the same Martin house or box they’ve summered in for years, and leave each September to winter in South America and the Amazon. Each year, the global population of martins gather at just 350 roosting sites to prepare for their winter migration. {Editor’s Note: We reported on the Purple Martin’s return to Moore County earlier this year, to read that coverage, click here.}

Martin and humans enjoy a special relationship. They are North America’s largest swallow and in the East, they are nearly 100 percent dependent on human-made birdhouses for nesting areas. It’s a tradition started by this areas Native Americans who once hollowed out gourds to provide nesting spots. They can be seen in all 95 Tennessee counties but rarely in urban areas.

“Most of the purple martin population no longer nests in natural cavities. The species only continues to exist because individuals invest in and maintain purple martin houses,” said Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF) CEO Michael Butler. “When we saw what was happening downtown, it only seemed right to the Federation to share in the cost of their roosting site when it’s hurting a fellow nonprofit already impacted by the pandemic.”

If you’re looking for a fun, social distanced outing, the Purple Martins are putting on quite the show … but it will have a short run. They’re fueling up for a long flight back to South America. Be warned though as the birds swan dive and move in ballet like motion across the sky, they tend to poop … and 150,000 birds create a lot of it. It covers the sidewalks, the fountains, the windowsills, the Symphony Hall, the trees outside … and you might get dive bombed just looking up. You’ve been warned. The flock of birds are also loud and can be heard from blocks away.

Purple Martin are protected migratory songbirds by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, so despite the fact that they’re wreaking havoc, the symphony is being patient if not chagrined hosts. They says once the Martins have traveled South, they’ll break out the press washers. Until then they’re enjoying a bit of entertainment … completely on brand for 2020.

In fact, they’ve partnered with the TWF to raise money to help with the unexpected clean up costs. Without income from performances, the symphony — like many non-profits during COVID — doesn’t have extra cash just lying around. The TWF will match donations dollar-for-dollar (up to $5,000). This partnership transformed the Purple Martin visit from a nuance to a once-in-a-lifetime performance.

“We are profoundly thankful to Tennessee Wildlife Federation, as well as to The Nature Conservancy and other conservation groups, for stepping in and helping raise funds to help us take care of the Schermerhorn,” said Nashville Symphony President and CEO Alan D. Valentine. “This will help us stay focused on the critical work of bringing back the musicians and staff who fulfill the Nashville Symphony’s mission of providing great music and education programs to the diverse population of Middle Tennessee.”

The TWF set a goal of raising $10,000 for the clean up and as of September 1, they’d raised $10,600.77. If you’d like to contribute to help with the clean up, click this link. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

TWRA: Dove season opens September 1

Dove season is a favorite among Moore County hunters. The season kicks off on September 1. {File Photo}

September means many things to many people … cooler nights, the kick off to college football, county fairs, and to area hunters, the beginning of dove season – one of the state of Tennessee’s long-standing outdoor sports traditions. The first segment of Tennessee dove season open on Tuesday, September 1 and closes on Monday, September 28.

According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA), mourning doves are a popular game bird and one of the most widely distributed and abundant birds in North America. More mourning doves are harvested than all other migratory bird species combined in 39 of the continental states. In Tennessee, an estimated 15,500 hunters harvested approximately 277,000 mourning doves last year.

Moore County exists in Region 2 with wildlife managed dove fields located at Pickett Farm in Franklin County and the William’s Farm in Lincoln County. For a complete list of TRWA managed fields, click here.

The TWRA reminds dove hunters that it’s illegal to hunt on a baited field – meaning no additional grain, salt, or other feed has been added to the field to attract doves. To learn more about baited field regulations, click here. Hunter will also need need a state permit to harvest birds.

The second dove hunting segment will take place October 10 through November 1 and the third and final will happen December 8 through January 15. For more dove hunting info, visit the state’s migratory bird page but clicking here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Oak Barrel Half confirms October date and offers virtual option

The Oak Barrel Half Marathon finishes on the historic Lynchburg Square. This year, registered runner can participate in Lynchburg or virtually at home on October 24. {Photo Courtesy of the Oak Barrel Half Marathon}

LYNCHBURG — The Mach Tenn Running Club, the organizers of the Oak Barrel Half Marathon, recently confirmed their intention to run the race in Lynchburg on Saturday, October 24.

In March, Mach Tenn representative Melissa Miller appeared before the Metro Council to seek permission to block off the square for that new date. (Read our full coverage of that appearance here.) Traditionally, the event is held the first Saturday of April but this year organizers moved the event due to the COVID-19 health situation.

“It’s the old Jack Daniel’s World Invitational Barbecue date,” Miller told the Metro Council in March. “They’ve moved their event up and we decided we liked that date.”

Since then, Jack Daniel’s Distillery cancelled the 2020 World Invitational Barbecue, but plans for the half marathon remain. However this year, they will allow participants not comfortable with running in groups to convert their registration to a virtual run. Runners who complete the 13.1 miles on their own will receive their “swag” at their home address. 

According to Mach Tenn, those who plan to run in Lynchburg do not need to do anything. Those who plan to run remotely, should contact the half marathon to convert their registration. For more information, visit the group’s Facebook page or website. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, the Lynchburg Music Fest, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}