By Marion M. Miner
Hmm, now where did I put my hiking boots, poles and name badge? I am going to need them in a week because the hiking season is about to begin. If you have not been working out or walking, it is time to stretch the muscles, hamstrings, knees and other parts of the body to be ready for this year's spring hiking season. It is going to be wonderful to get outside in the woods again and enjoy Mother Nature.
The Fairfield Glade Hiking Group is beginning its spring 2013 season on Friday, March 15 with the first of 13 pleasant 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 following is the schedule of hikes. There will be a sign-up sheet posted on the bulletin board across from the FFG post office the week of the hike. 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 roots and rocks and with elevation gains and losses. Please check out our website by going to Google and typing in “FFG Hiking”.
March 15 – Black Mountain to Cox Valley Road. This is a hike close to The Glade with wonderful vistas and huge rocks. This is rated easy and is 4.5 miles.
March 22 – Hazard Cave/Natural Bridge. Hazard Cave and the Natural Bridge are beautiful sandstone formations. This is rated easy and is 5 miles.
March 29 – Frozen Head/Panther Branch. This hike is near Wartburg and hopefully we will see some wild flowers beginning to bloom. This is rated moderate and is 6 miles.
April 5 – Collins West in Savage Gulf. We will see a couple of falls on this hike. This is rated moderate and is 6 miles long.
April 12 – Falls Creek Falls – Woodland Trail. We will see the 256 foot high Fall Creek Falls along the way. This is rated easy and is 4 miles.
April 19 – Charlie’s Bunion in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. We will be on part of the Appalachian Trail. This is rated moderate plus and is 8 miles.
April 26 – Laurel Falls in Dayton. We will see another waterfall. This is rated moderate and is 5 miles.
May 2 and 3 – Overnight to Chattanooga. This is our semi-annual overnight. We will hike on Thursday and Friday. The hikes are rated easy to moderate.
May 10 – Hidden Passage. This is part of the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail. This is rated moderate and is 6 miles.
May 17 – Foster Falls. This is another waterfall. This is rated moderate and is 5 miles.
May 24 – Lilly Bluffs Point Trail. This trail has good overlooks. This is rated easy and is 3.8 miles.
May 31 – Angel Falls Overlook – This is a beautiful overlook and we cross the Cumberland River at the low-water bridge at Leatherwood Ford in the Big South Fork Recreation Area. The hike is rated moderate and is 6 miles.
June 7 – Cumberland Cove. Our friends Charlie Massey who lives in this area will lead us on a trail that he has worked on. This is rated moderate and is 5 miles. We will have our end of the season picnic after the hike.
Our rating system:
As a general rule hikes up to 5 miles in length and elevation gains less than 1,000 feet are rated easy.
Hikes of 5 – 8 miles in length with elevation gains less than 1,500 feet are usually considered moderate.
Hikes over 8 miles or those with substantial elevation gains or rough terrain may be strenuous.
These ratings are subjective and will depend on the physical conditioning and mental readiness of the participant. An outing participant will sometimes find their own assessment of the difficulty of the outing to differ from the posted rating.