By Marion M. Miner
The Fairfield Glade Hiking Group will begin the spring 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 thinking of trying some hikes, you are welcome to join us. The first four hikes are all easy, these are the best to try out to see if you are ready for the moderate hikes we have scheduled. 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.
The following dates are scheduled for hikes:
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 four mile hike.
March 21 – Twin Rocks/Stinging Falls. This is a new hike for the group that is four miles and easy.
March 28 – Rock Island/Burgess Falls. These are two hikes that are easy for a total of 4.5 miles.
April 4 – Old Stone Fort. Archaeologists suggest this area originated 2,000 year ago and was used as an Indian ceremonial site. This is an easy hike of four 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 five 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. It 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 trail 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 seven miles and the other is five.
May 9 – Cumberland Trail – new bridge. Another new hike for us that is rated easy and is four miles in length.
May 16 – Frozen Head Spice, South Old Mac. Frozen Head is one of the highest peaks in the Cumberland Mountains. It is a 6.2 mile hike rated moderate.
May 23 –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 five miles, but the trails are mostly grassy mowed fields.
May 30 – Bald River Falls - This hike is in the Cherokee National Forest. It is six 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 three miles long and easy. After this short hike we will have our end of the season cookout.
As a general rule hikes up to five miles in length and elevation gains less than 1,000 feet are rated easy.
Hikes of five to eight miles in length with elevation gains less than 1,500 feet are usually considered moderate.
Hikes over eight 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.