Step Outside - Tennessee WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 http://stepoutside.org/ Step Outside - Tennessee 144 144 http://stepoutside.org/ https://cdnstep-americantownscom.netdna-ssl.com/img/stepoutside_logo.gif Wed, 14 Nov 2018 22:27:30 -0600 SPOTLIGHT: Things to Do in and Around Fort Pillow State Historic Park There’s more to vacationing in Tennessee than the Great Smoky Mountains, and the state’s abundance of state parks prove it. You don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy a family getaway, especially when state parks have just about everything you need on-site. From entertainment to activities to education and more, a few days enjoying the great outdoors might change the way you vacation forever.

Located about 40 miles east of Memphis, Fort Pillow State Historic Park is a gem among state parks. Created to preserve the area’s importance as a Civil War historic site, visitors can spend the day exploring the well-preserved breastworks and reconstructed inner fort. There are several artifacts on display in the park, as well as museum tours that will tell you everything you need to know about the area. It’s also a prime birdwatching spot, offering wildlife viewing opportunities and camping areas. 

You can explore the former home of “Roots” author Alex Haley. This museum pays tribute to the life and achievements of Haley, along with the movement he created in American culture. There are several items on exhibit, as well as a gift shop and a brief documentary.

#alexhaley museum

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Grab the best burger in town at Kissell’s Kitchen, a down-home family eatery that’s dishing out comfort food and friendly service. They also specialize in fish chicken, barbecue, and their raved-about barbecue redneck egg roll. Kissell’s is open for all three meals, so there’s never a bad time to visit.

If burgers ain’t your thing, stop by the Hen House for deliciously golden fried chicken. You’ll find a little bit o’ everything here, including country fixings, country fried steak, and daily specials. It’s true Tennessee flavor, plain and simple. 

Get to know the local area better with a trip to Lauderdale County Museum. Situated in the historic Sugar Hill Mansion built in 1842, this museum is free for the public to enjoy as they learn more about the history of Lauderdale County.

There are several sites along the western border of Tennessee that make up the Great River Road Trail, including the Riverside Drive Welcome Center and Beale Street Landing in Memphis. These sites (and others) are found along the shores of the Mississippi River and bear historical significance to the state. The Welcome Center features bronze statues of Elvis and BB King, perfect for an Instagram-worthy photo op.

Open for hunting and exploring, the Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge offers prime viewing for Tennessee wildlife. Ideal for birdwatching, you may also catch glimpses of raccoon, whitetail deer, snakes, turtles, and squirrels.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/spotlight-things-to-do-in-and-around-fort-pillow-state-historic-park http://stepoutside.org/article/spotlight-things-to-do-in-and-around-fort-pillow-state-historic-park Fri, 02 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Cool Spots for ATV Off-Roading in Tennessee In the southern half of the U.S., we value an excellent off-roading experience. With miles of trails, mud, and forests to traverse, you’ll find no shortage of ATV excitement in Tennessee. Whether you prefer adventure parks or state forests, you’ll find something to suit your style with these five awesome ATV off-roading spots in the state.

This state forest boasts a whopping 24,686 acres of space, located 10 miles from Chattanooga. Prentice Cooper is an incredibly popular spot for activities like camping, rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and bird watching. There are also roads throughout the massive forest designed just for OHVs, including ATVs and motorcycles. Remember to remain on these designated roads and follow the rules! Roads permitting motorized vehicles are marked with a Jeep symbol. Stay at a steady 25 miles per hour while you’re here and enjoy exploring the beautiful Prentice Cooper State Forest. 

Really need to go back before summer is over...

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This 500-acre off-road park is situated in the mountains of south central Tennessee. The park is “dedicated to creating the ultimate off road experience,” according to its website. There are over 120 trails available here at a variety of levels of difficulty. There’s also a camping space to stay the night, which includes RV hookups and bathrooms. Rates go at $15 per person and children under 12 enter free! 

Novices be prepared: This park is known for having some of the most challenging trails in the region. Across 500 acres, you’ll find 45 trails ranging in difficulty from level 1 to 5. Golden Mountain is accessible to ATVs, motorcycles, Jeeps, trucks, and UTVs. The terrain here varies, from rock climbing to regular trail riding, and you can also expect loose hill climbs as well as technical rock crawling. 

Foxfire Mountain is designed for thrill seekers of all types, not just the off-roading lovers. This park has zip lines, ropes courses, and swing bridges, in addition to their excellent off-roading opportunity. Now, this is a bit different than some of the other off-roading adventures available in Tennessee. At Foxfire, you can participate in a guided tour called the Bear Crawler Adventure of the Smoky Mountains. Explore in an eight-wheeled ATV on off-road trails, ripping through water and zipping among trees. Perfect for those not quite ready to drive their own ATV! 

Covering an impressive 72,000 acres and providing over 300 miles of trails, Windrock Park is an off-roading haven! Riders are welcome to utilize ATVs, side-by-sides, dirt bikes, mountain bikes, Jeeps, buggies, and trucks at this park. If you don’t have your own vehicle, you can rent an OHV right on site! If you’re spent from a day of adventure, you can stay the night at one of their cabins, RV sites, or primitive campsites. 

*Note: Age restrictions, special licenses, and other requirements for off highway vehicles vary from state to state. Before heading out on your OHV, please consult your local regulations.

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5 Stunning Foliage Hikes in Tennessee Given Tennessee’s mountain-laden geography, there’s no shortage of stunning fall foliage when the weather starts to cool. People flock to the Volunteer State from all over the country to glimpse the beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows that set the mountainside ablaze with rich fall hues. And when the sun’s heat starts to settle, it’s the perfect time to take a walk through the woods to see Mother Nature hard at work. Find nothing but natural beauty on these five stunning foliage hikes in Tennessee. 

While this isn’t exactly a walk in the woods, this strenuous skyward hike of only half a mile makes up for its length with breathtaking views. A saucer-shaped covered platform awaits you at the top, giving you a 360-degree view of the area. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is well known for its fall color, attracting both locals and visitors from other states and countries each fall. For the best viewing, make your way here during the last two weeks in October, when the fall colors are fully ablaze. Clingmans Dome also offers access to the Appalachian Trail.

If you get here early enough, you’ll have the chance to glimpse some wildlife along with stunning fall views. This 11-mile one-way loop is opened to motorists from 10 a.m. onward, but it’s the perfect scene for hikers and cyclists prior to the onslaught of vehicles. Here you can explore historical sites and preserved buildings from the 1800s, in addition to an abundance of mountain views from the sweeping valley plains. Aside from the loop, there are several hiking trails that wind their way through this park, including the five-mile trek to Abram Falls.

This rewarding hike offers plenty of pleasant surprises as you wind your way to the top of Mt. LeConte. From a refreshing site at Arch Rock to the much-needed rest point at Alum Cave, you’ll have beautiful fall foliage following you every step of the way. The trail mostly aligns with a shimmering creek that adds a nice touch to your photographs. For the best views of the leaves, you’ll want to go the distance to the top of Mt. LeConte, which is upwards of 11 miles one-way. 

Also part of the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll join the trail at the Low Gap Trailhead near the Cosby campground, then follow it for three miles before joining the Appalachian Trail. It’s a steep, unforgiving climb with multiple switchbacks, but winding your way through the hardwood forests under a canopy of glistening fall color is well worth it. The trip to the top totals about 5.5 miles, taking you nearly 5,000 feet-high.

Over footbridges, past waterfalls, and through the woods you’ll find the area alight with fall beauty. Roughly four miles down and back, hikers will enjoy the stunning views of 60-foot Fern Branch Falls before turning back toward home. All along the way, you’ll have the quiet company of beautiful leaves surrounding you. It’s a great trail for hikers who want a slightly challenging trail, as well as those who enjoy historical sites along with their intake of Mother Nature. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-stunning-foliage-hikes-in-tennessee http://stepoutside.org/article/5-stunning-foliage-hikes-in-tennessee Thu, 01 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500
ATV Off-Roading Adventure at Adventure Off Road Park There’s no doubt that Tennessee is the place for ATV off-roading adventures. But a good day of off-roading doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time on the trail. There are plenty of epic off-roading spots just minutes from delicious restaurants, shops, and activities that can make for an unforgettable day of excitement. This mini travel guide will ensure your next off-roading experience in Tennessee is one you’ll always remember. 

Fill up your human fuel tank at Harvey’s Pirate Drive In, an unfussy eatery serving up classic breakfast offerings and family-oriented service. You’ll need your energy for a long day of trail riding. And don’t worry—there won’t be any real pirates here to make you walk the plank!

There’s no end to off-roading activities here. This park has been the site for an abundance of large-scale events, including outdoor concerts, festivals, camping, competitions, and of course, trail riding. Inside you’ll find a huge variety of trails for all stages of riding, each equipped with unique challenges. The system creates a complex network of overlapping trails, which means you can make your journey as long as you want. Pack a lunch and enjoy alfresco dining at the picnic area in the park. 

Head back south to Jasper, where tasty food awaits you at Nickajack BBQ & Outdoors. Here you’ll find some of the best barbecue in the area, along with favorites like pizza, nachos, burgers, and fries. And make sure you save room for dessert—their cheesecakes are just as delicious as they look!

Once you’ve eaten your fill, clean up at the Quality Inn & Suites, just off Interstate 24. Every room comes equipped with all the home-away-from-home luxuries you need, including free Wi-Fi and plushy beds. There’s also plenty of large vehicle parking on site. Don’t forget to grab a free breakfast!

Before you wrap up your adventure, head to Chattanooga to visit the awe-inspiring Ruby Falls. You’ve probably never seen anything quite like this in your life. This 145-foot waterfall is underground and located within Lookout Mountain. Thousands of visitors flock to these falls every year to witness their magnificence. Electric lights have been installed around the falls, to make them glow even more impressively. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/atv-offroading-adventure-at-adventure-off-road-park http://stepoutside.org/article/atv-offroading-adventure-at-adventure-off-road-park Thu, 01 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Awesome RV Campsites in Tennessee There are few more relaxing pastimes than camping, especially at a fantastic RV campsite. Great sites provide a plethora of amenities that add to your comfort without taking away from the natural views all around. For your next RV trip, consider the following five awesome RV campsites in Tennessee. 

Bear Cove Village in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, offers RV sites and cabin camping all year round. The recipient of the 2005 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, Bear Cove sites include free Wi-Fi, free cable, after hours’ registration, hot showers, two pools, playground, dog park, mail service, a fishing pond, and much more. Good Sam Club members enjoy a 10 percent discount on nightly rates, which differ in price depending on the month. Visit the nearby Dollywood adventure park, Smoky Mountain, and Dixie Stampede Dinner Shows while you’re in town.

The Defeated Creek Park Campground is part of the larger Defeated Creek Park in Carthage, Tennessee, along the Cordell Hull Lake banks. The campground has 155 sites for tents and RVs and electrical and water hook-ups at each site. Amenities include a boat ramp, beach, playground, tennis courts, and an adjacent marina. The lake consists of 12,000 acres and 381 miles of shoreline, with ample opportunity to fish or partake in watersports.

Anchor Down in charming small-town Dandridge, Tennessee, is the recipient of many awards, including Traveler Life’s Reader’s Choice Award, Jefferson County’s Reader’s Choice Award, Good Sam RV Travel and Saving’s Guide Award, and TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence. What makes Anchor Down so wonderful? With over 170 sites in their luxury resort on Douglas Lake, you’ll find a staggering number of amenities, including beach areas, boat ramps, cable, Wi-Fi, full hook-ups, golf cart rentals, paved streets, saltwater kiddie pool, and much more. Rates start at $49 per night and go up depending on what kind of site you prefer.

Cove Creek RV Resort in Sevierville, Tennessee, offers magnificent views of Cove Mountain. Self-styled as an “upscale RV campground,” amenities include gravel and concrete cites, electricity, water and sewer hook-up, luxury clubhouse with free coffee, game room, swimming pool, catch and release fishing pond, resort activities and site ownership opportunities. Choose from nightly or monthly pricing options.

Camp on over 200 acres at Deer Run RV Resort in Crossville, Tennessee. Amenities include access to the 25-acre lake, basketball, beach area, cable, chapel, convenience store, deli, horseshoe pits, lake fishing, lakefront cabins, playground, swimming pool, and much more. Rates differ between full hook-up RV sites and no hook-ups, with daily, weekly, monthly, and holiday options. Military members and Good Sam Club members receive a discount on daily and holiday rates. 

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5 Perfect Fall Camping Spots in Tennessee Tennessee’s blanket of fall colors is a national phenomenon that attracts thousands of visitors each year to marvel at the rich red, orange, and yellow tapestry. And there’s no better way to experience these unique colors than up close and personal during a fall camping trip. From every direction, campers enjoy all the sights, sounds, and smells of fall, whether you’re trekking the Smoky Mountains or enjoying a lakeside camping spot on the other side of the state. If you want to enjoy a few nights under the stars, there’s no better time than in the fall. Book your site now at one of these five perfect fall camping spots in Tennessee—it might just make you swear off hotels altogether. 

There’s no shortage of activities throughout the year at this state park, but the milder temperatures of fall make them easier to enjoy. As the state’s largest and most visited state park, guests can explore the multiple waterfalls, trails, and all things nature throughout its 26,000 acres. Campers can opt for one of several campsites, or take the backcountry roads and sleep away from civilization. It’s also the site of an epic aerial adventure course, complete with rope bridges, swings, nets, and zip lines for an above-the-trees experience you won’t be soon to forget.

Rustic and charming, camping at Big Ridge State Park will make you long for the days before the technological takeover. Take a step back in time as you visit the historic grist mill and other facilities that once enlivened the area. The park is dotted with hiking trails ranging from very easy to experts-only, and can give everyone in the family a chance to challenge their own skills. While you’re there, you’ll be able to experience Tennessee’s fall foliage the way nature intended—quietly and uninterrupted. It’s a camping trip you’ll want to relive again and again.

Located on beautiful Center Hill Lake, this sprawling park is home to some of the state’s best wildlife and foliage viewing. Grab your binoculars for an unforgettable bird watching experience, catching glimpses of bald eagles, owls, and hawks. Set against a gorgeous mountainside backdrop, guests can take advantage of the observation tower to get frame-worthy photos of the rich colors of the Tennessee autumn.

Former home to a steamboat landing, this state park nestled against Kentucky Lake makes for a premier fall camping destination. Complete with golf course, fishing, boating, hiking, and wildlife viewing, this state park has everything a camper needs for a weekend in the woods. Turkey, fox, and coyote are known to make frequent appearances. It’s a beautiful spot for a little natural therapy.

Don’t let the name fool you—there aren’t any real frozen heads here. Named for the always-frozen peak in the Cumberland Mountains, campers can set their sights on acres upon acres of unspoiled mountain prestige. Take a walk to the top of the observation deck to get a glimpse of Mother Nature at her finest, enveloped in blazing fall colors that are just begging for a photo.

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10 Best Archery Outfitters in Tennessee Olympic archer or entry-level bow hunter, anyone can enjoy the thrill of this incredible sport. Tennessee plays home to several archery ranges and stores dedicated to helping you get the best bows and other gear to perfect your shot. It all starts with a visit to one of these 10 best archery gear shops in Tennessee. 

This archery training haven has a pro shop on site that specializes in competitive archery. They carry some of the best-in-class brands like Hoyt and Bowfinger to outfit you with all the right gear and accessories. This place is especially invaluable to beginner archers since they offer personal instruction and can help recommend the best products suited to your skill level.

Legolas and Katniss for the day 🎯 #sportysaturday

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The perfect spot for bow hunter and target shooters alike, you’ll find everything you need for a day in the field at Taylor’s Archery and Outdoors. Their fans love them because they almost always have what they’re looking for in stock without having to wait for it to be ordered. And for rainy or cold days (or any other time, really), you can perfect your shot at their indoor range.

Killer Instinct Crossbows in stock ready to go!!

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Middle Tennessee has a huge community of bow hunters, and U Need It Archery is their one-stop shop. Their retail area features brands like Mission, Mathews, and a wide variety of parts and accessories to keep your bow working and looking like new. They also offer an indoor range for archers of all ages and skill levels. If you need it, chances are they have it.

No matter what you need for your bow, you can get it here. You can get your bow serviced while you shop for all the parts and accessories you need. If they don’t have it for you, they’ll get it for you as quickly and inexpensively as possible.

Folks love this family-owned shop because of their dedication to archers of all types. They’re fellows archers, too, and they know what high-quality equipment and services look like. This means you get the best possible experience from your investment, while also helping out a small business.

Here you’ll find some of the best names in archery, including Hoyt, Mission, and Mathews. They focus not just on selling you the right bow, but also providing all the servicing and maintenance your investment needs. If you don’t live close by, they can ship you whatever you need.

Their customers love the reasonable prices and high-quality gear at Bowhunter’s Pro Shop. They build custom strings and arrows give you a truly unique experience that suits your abilities, in addition to a full-service archery repair shop.

Though primarily a gun shop, this place is equally skilled in helping fellow archers pursue their passion. They offer a wide range of bows in all sizes for all ages, along with all the accessories you’ll need in the field.

Archery repair and service is what makes their shop stand out from the rest. When you need a tuning, repair, or accessory installation, even if you didn’t buy your stuff from them, you won’t want to go anywhere else. They also offer bow sales and produce custom strings.

Jenny Stephens next hunt is an Xpedition!

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Once you pick up your new bow or accessories here, you can try them out on-site at their indoor range. This place is kid-friendly too, so you can turn your visit into a family adventure.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-archery-outfitters-in-tennessee http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-archery-outfitters-in-tennessee Mon, 29 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
10 Best Bait and Tackle Shops in Tennessee Tennessee’s freshwater fishing opportunities in the state’s beautiful lakes and streams are second to none. Despite not being on the coast, the state offers no shortage of places to fish for some of your favorites. Whether for pure enjoyment or to catch your next meal, you’ll never catch anything without the right bait and gear. Start your fishing adventure with a trip to these 10 best bait and tackle shops in Tennessee. 

This shop is everything that other bait shops should aspire to be. Not only do they carry bait and tackle, they also offer reel servicing and other maintenance to keep your equipment looking and functioning like new. They’ve also got an on-site deli, since fish aren’t the only ones who need to eat.

Jack’s has been a Chattanooga icon in the fishing community for over 40 years. They know what you need to catch fish in the area, and you can find it all at their store. While you’re there, you can stock up on all the extras, like soda, beer, snacks, and your fishing license.

If you’re looking for that hometown service experience, you’ll find it at Jerry’s Bait Shop. The folks here are serving up a heaping helping of southern hospitality with a side of the best bait in the area. They also carry a wide range of other outdoor gear, including duck and turkey calls, bows, and guns.

#sprinker frogs back in stock!

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For live bait in Memphis, you’ll want to make Gator Brown’s your first choice. In addition, you can get your rod and reel serviced while you peruse the shop. They also make their own weights.

Poindexter’s has been serving its community for over three generations. Their fans love them because they always have a large selection of fishing tackle in stock. In addition to serving your fishing needs, you can also count on them for hunting and archery supplies.

This family owned-and operated business has steadily grown its following since the 1970s when it first opened by Big Charlie himself. It’s your one-stop shop for high-quality fishing gear and the best breakfast in town.

A trip to this bait shop means you get the full fishing experience right here—including the fishing spot! Located on the lake, the shop is tucked inside a camping and RV park so you can extend your fishing trip as long as you like.

This friendly little gas station pit stop offers the best bait for fishing in the area. You can fuel up at their deli, grab some extra fuel for the boat, and stock up on snacks and drinks, all in a single trip.

Previously South Third Bait and Tackle, In-N-Out in Memphis has been serving the community for over 25 years. The locally-owned shop provides high-quality bait at unbeatable prices. Stop in for helpful advice and guidance, too.  

Does anything compare to the feeling of a small-town shop? Not only is the staff welcoming and informative, but they’ll also provide you with all of the bait and tackle you’ll ever need for a successful fishing trip. If you’re in the Soddy-Daisy area, you simply cannot pass through without visiting. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-bait-and-tackle-shops-in-tennessee http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-bait-and-tackle-shops-in-tennessee Mon, 29 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Best Birdwatching Hikes in Tennessee Birdwatching takes serious concentration, planning, and effort if you want to catch a glimpse of your favorite bird species. Seasoned birdwatchers know that time and place is everything. If you aren’t in the right area at the right time of year, you’ll never know what amazing bird species you’ll have a chance to spot. Given Tennessee’s vast mountain regions and varied terrain, the entire state is a prime viewing ground for hundreds of bird species of all sorts—if you know where to look. Take a trip to these five best birdwatching spots in Tennessee and enjoy the views.

The name gives its away—this is Tennessee’s premier birdwatching spot. The park is situated directly in the migratory path of its many visiting feathered friends. It’s also a prime breeding ground where visitors can find many nesting species. Purple martins and tree swallows are among the most commonly-sighted birds, but barn owls, sparrows, and singing birds are also quite popular. If possible, plan your visit for early morning or late afternoon for the best viewing opportunities.

Aside from the Aviary Education Center, this park also features plenty of birding excitement. November through April offers glimpses of wintering waterfowl, including ring-necked and canvasback duck. During the fall and spring, head through the forest along Otter Creek Road and Lake Trail for migratory birdwatching. 

Known for its eagle sightings (there’s even an Eagle Festival!), this park also plays home to migratory birds during the fall. White pelicans, cormorants, wood ducks, warblers, and wading birds are among the most popular denizens here. The park features a variety of habitats to attract a diverse bird population, including a lake and wooded areas. You can catch glimpses of birdlife from the visitor center, but Keystone Trail offers some of the best views. 

Summer at Reelfoot. .eagles

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Dubbed an Important Bird Area (IBA) by the Audubon Society, this area is essential for migrating neotropical birds. Flycatchers, gnatcatchers, warblers, and waterthrush are commonly sighted in the spring and summer months. A number of warbler species can be seen if you climb to the higher elevations of the park. In total, over 130 species of birds have been spotted in the park over the course of a year. Use the park’s variety of hiking trails to enjoy your bird spotting adventure.

I hope I never lose my awe of nature.

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Due to its mix of open flatlands and wooded acreage, this site is a true sanctuary for the feathered variety. Migrating species are commonly spotted here, including thrushes, flycatchers, warblers, and tanagers. Visitors have largely reported great horned owl and barred owl sightings, along with red-shouldered hawks that nest in the spring. Year-round you might see wild turkeys, bluebirds, woodpeckers, kingfishers, and nuthatches, while a variety of other species appear on a seasonal basis. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-best-birdwatching-hikes-in-tennessee http://stepoutside.org/article/5-best-birdwatching-hikes-in-tennessee Mon, 29 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Best Places to Fish in the South This Fall Redfish are starting to move inshore and set up at the mouths of bays, inlets and deltas as their annual spawning run commences. The bottom line for fishermen is outstanding fishing from late September through November in the northern Gulf.

Likewise, bass fishing is starting to pick up again as the weather begins to cool. Huge schools of threadfin shad are starting to filter away from open-water ledges into bays and tributaries where feeding conditions and water temperatures are more optimum.

Bass follow the food, first setting up on ledges at the mouths of inlets and creeks to waylay shad, then migrating back toward shallower water to keep up with their quarry.

Fall Script for Southern Bass

Bass rule in Dixie and cooler weather brings out an army of anglers who go after them. Whether largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass, they’re available in most waters and sometimes all three varieties are present in a fishery, ready to aggravate or gratify those who seek them.

Hot Spots To Fish: When it comes to the South’s best lakes for fall fishing, the big TVA impoundments fit the bill. Because this is bass tournament country, dozens of YouTube videos and Facebook sites of pro anglers offer useful advice on where and how to catch autumn largemouths. Likewise, guide services are plentiful; just Google “fishing guides” for the lake you’re visiting or type in the town nearest the lake you wish to fish on the interactive map on this page.

Tackle You’ll Need: A 7-foot medium/heavy rod such as the St. Croix Premier Cranking, a baitcasting reel like the Abu Garcia Revo Winch and 10- to 14-pound-test monofilament makes a good combination to fish downsized lures.

Quick tip: This is strictly a match-the-hatch deal. Use lures that are about the same size as wandering shad. If young-of-the-year threadfins are on the bass menu, try small swim baits fished on drop-shot rigs.

 

Best Lures/Baits: Shad-colored, shallow- and medium-diving square-billed or coffin-billed crankbaits are autumn standouts. Popular lures include the Strike King 6XD, Bandit 100 or 200, Duo Realis M65, Livetarget Magnum Shad BaitBall Squarebill, Megabass S-Crank, Lucky Craft Squarebill 2.5, Storm Arashi and Rapala Shad Rap.

Fish them around shoreline cover and on the flats between creek drop-offs and the bank. Other fallback baits include spinnerbaits like the Booyah Super Shad, Stanley Vibrashaft and Nichols Pulsator. Good buzzbait options can be found from Lunker Lure, Damiki, Santone and Dirty Jigs.

Rendezvous With Redfish

Along the northern Gulf Coast from Carrabelle, FL, to Grand Isle, LA, the redfish season begins in late September and continues in stages through December. Some anglers fish in the surf with cut bait, while others station themselves on area piers or in boats on relatively shallow flats near channel cuts.

Hot Spots To Fish: For boating anglers, a couple of spots stick out. Pensacola Bay Pass is a must-fish for boaters. Anchor up on the broad flat between old Fort Pickens and the channel, set out lines as the tide changes to incoming, and hang on. Need more help? Redfish University Pensacola Fishing Charters (850-748-4368, redfishuniversity.com) specializes in the big drum.

At Grand Isle, LA, book a trip with Gotta Go Fishing Charters (225-921-3642, gottagofishingcharters.com). The marshes and inshore waters around Venice, LA, are primo redfish haunts as well. Captain Mike Frenette (504-782-0924, laredfish.com or (mike@venicefishing.net) is a top guide here.

Photograph Courtesy of Strike King Lure Company 
Louisiana’s coastal waters are ground zero for the hottest autumn redfish action along the northern Gulf Coast. A variety of natural baits and artificials get the job done.

Tackle You’ll Need: “Rat” reds of 3 pounds and up, or real bruisers weighing in excess of 20 pounds require a range of tackle options. Bass fishing tackle – whether spinning or baitcasting – is perfect for handling smaller fish and for casting jigs or swimbaits that weigh less than an ounce. A Shimano Stradic spinning reel and 7-foot medium-action Shimano Compre rod with 14-pound-test monofilament.

For bigger fish, consider a Penn Battle II BTLII5000 with 20-pound-test monofilament or 40-pound-test braid, and a 30-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. A 7-foot medium-heavy spinning rod (such as the Penn Battalion BATIN1220S70) should handle any bait rigs or lures and wear down a bull redfish in short order.

Quick Tip: Incoming tides in late evening or at night are primo times for reds as the fish free-spawn then in the mouths of coastal bays and estuaries. If you can’t fish any other time, make sure you fish the incoming tides.

 

Best Lures/Baits: Redfish aren’t particular about their dietary requirements and will eat anything from blue crabs to halved mullet. Swimming spoons such as the Johnson Sprite (johnsonfishing.com), swimbaits and jigs or even topwater poppers, such as the Heddon Saltwater Spook, will elicit strikes.

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Photograph Courtesy of Strike King Lure Company Photo By Garrick Dixon Shallow- to medium-running crankbaits probably account for more bass than any other lure in the fall when the fish are on the prowl for shad in feeder creeks and coves. http://stepoutside.org/article/best-places-to-fish-in-the-south-this-fall http://stepoutside.org/article/best-places-to-fish-in-the-south-this-fall Thu, 11 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
10 Best Outdoor Fall Activities in Tennessee Fall is arguably the best time of year in Tennessee. The Smoky Mountains are ablaze with rich fall color. The cooler air makes for perfect hiking conditions. Wildlife spotting is frequent. And it’s a great time to enjoy the great outdoors without battling the blazing southern sun. You’ll want to add these 10 best outdoor fall activities in Tennessee to your must-do list this season. 

Nestled in the majestic Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg is THE destination in Tennessee for all things great outdoors. In the fall, the town comes alive in beautiful fall foliage surrounded by crisp mountain air. Hundreds of miles of hiking trails, wildlife viewing, climbing, four-wheeling, and mountain biking are just a few of the many outdoor sports and activities you can do here in the fall—and you’ll want enough time to take advantage of them all!

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Known for their top notch beer and cider selections, you can expect to find plenty of fall-flavored gems here. Playing in and around Gatlinburg works up an appetite, and you’ll be glad to find a place that has the best of both food and drink where you can refuel for your next adventure. Also, legend has it that the pub might be haunted—perfect for Halloween-addicts!

The name implies a trail blazing with orange, yellow, and red, and it doesn’t disappoint. Running from Tracy City to Foster Falls, the trail has been named one of the top hiking trails in the country. Along the way you can expect to see rock formations, waterfalls, and some of the oldest hemlocks in Tennessee.

The only thing better than biking is doing it with hundreds of fellow bike riders while taking in the best sights of the state. This organized group ride begins at Fall Creek Falls State Park and spans six days. You can expect out-and-back rides and longer distances for riders of every skill level. Hot showers, supported routes, hidden gems, and scenic views on every ride remind you why Tennessee is one of the best destinations for outdoor fun.

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Rock climbing here is available by permit only, but the views are so pretty you won’t mind taking that extra step. Copperhead Rock offers routes for beginners and advanced climbers alike, mostly for top roping and repelling. Camping and cabins are also available within the park so you can extend your fun.

Sponsored by outdoor great Trailhead Bicycle and Apple Valley Orchard, this festival is dedicated to one of Tennessee’s most beloved crops. These two days in downtown Cleveland feature tons of apple desserts and family-friendly fun. Live music, pony rides, and the Trailhead Bicycle Kid’s Zone give you plenty of reason to stay awhile.

One of Cleveland’s top-rated coffeehouses, their menu features brews made with coffee roasted in nearby Clarksville that offers nothing but fine, fresh flavor. They also have breakfast and lunch favorites, including paninis, sandwiches, and sweet treats. Come here to enjoy a snack or meal during the Cleveland Apple Festival. 

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Rocky Top Outfitter offers bird watching tours with a professional guide to help you find the many varieties of fall bird species. Tours can range in difficulty, from easy hikes near places like Pigeon Forge and the Sugarlands Nature Trail, to more advanced birdwatching locations like Alum Cave Trail. Rocky Top Outfitter can help you stock up on gear and essentials for your trip, too

Cooler weather is the best time to hit the trails and leave your mark. Adventure Off Road Park offers miles of trails for Jeeps and buggies alike, all filled with their fair share of obstacles, twists, turns, and surprises. Hit up the Off Road Jamboree in October, a family-friendly weekend packed with competitions, group rides, camping, and more. 

A locals favorite fill-up, this diner has all the classic American fare you can handle. After your day on the trails at Adventure Off Road Park, head here to find reasonable portions and prices. Service is usually quick, so this makes a great pitstop if you want a quick break from riding.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-outdoor-fall-activities-in-tennessee http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-outdoor-fall-activities-in-tennessee Tue, 25 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Journey Underground and Discover Tennessee’s Incredible Lost Sea Glassy waters, a stillness in the air. Welcome to Sweetwater Tennessee’s Lost Sea—America’s largest underground lake.

Spanning across more than four magnificent acres, the Lost Sea is home to enormous trout, rare cave flowers, and plenty of mystery.

With Lost Sea Adventure, guests will embark on a 3/4-mile guided trek through the caverns.

And if you’re not claustrophobic, you can even spend the night through Lost Sea Adventure’s Wild Cave Tour.

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Do you have what it takes to spend the night in this eerie underground ecosystem?

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Camping Done Right: 7 Essential Outdoor Stores in Tennessee Tennessee offers some of the best camping opportunities in the country, given its abundance of state parks, lakes, and mountain vistas. However, both beginner and veteran campers alike realize that it’s hard to have a successful camping trip without the bare necessities. Luckily, there are plenty of outdoor stores in the know about camping in Tennessee that can help you choose the right gear for a memorable experience. Stock up on everything you need—and maybe a few things you didn’t realize you needed—at these seven outdoor stores in Tennessee. 

Gatlinburg is a gateway to the Smoky Mountains, so it’s only fitting they have an epic camping store to supply its thousands of campers. Step inside the lodge-style outpost and you’ll find an array of tents, backpacks, apparel, and other camping gear to complete your experience. Even if you’re not camping anytime soon, the store itself warrants a visit. Kids can enjoy the swinging rope bridge, bear cave, and massive fireplace while waiting for parents to shop. Some of their brands include Osprey, ChacoBlack Diamond, and Camelbak, among others.

Get all your basic camping essentials in a single stop. Cumberland Transit features some of the best brands your campsite will ever see, including ENO, Yeti, and Marmot. They’ve been in business for nearly half a century, and know the area well enough to offer real expertise and knowledge on how to get the most from your purchase.

Camping doesn’t come cheap, especially if you’re starting to amass your armory of sleeping gear, cookware, and other essentials. Four Bridge Outfitters seeks to change the way people camp by offering gently-used outdoor gear for far lower than retail prices. Think of it as a consignment store for camping stuff—they get new items in every week from their consignors so there’s always something fresh to find on their shelves. They also stock a wide array of brand new gear, too.

Dedicated to all things outdoors, this store features some of the best in gear and apparel for all types of nature-based adventures. Locals love them because they can always find just what they need for a perfect weekend in the woods, everything from basic tents or hammocks to cookware, pocket showers, and waterproof bags. Some of their bestselling brands include Big Agnes, the North Face, and JetBoil, to name a few.

You’ll score major finds at well below big-box prices at Gear Closet. This camping consignment store always has something new to delight campers. They also accept donated items, which mean even bigger savings for you. For those just getting into camping, stopping here first is a good way to get started without investing a lot (especially if you don’t plan to camp often!). Their inventory changes regularly, but brands like the North Face and ENO have been known to make appearances. 

No one knows campers like Coleman, the brand completely dedicated to helping campers have the best possible outdoor experience. The outlet store is brimming with Coleman-branded gear and products for campers of all ages and interest levels. You can score quality tents, lighting, electronics, cookware, and entertainment in a single shopping trip. Plus, Coleman is your headquarters for replacement parts for lighting, tents, air pumps, heaters, and other items.

Take an REI store, downsize it a bit, and you’re left with LifeView Outdoors. Like most good campsites, this store is a bit off the beaten path but it’s well worth the trip. They’ve got one of the best camping selections in the state, hands down. You’ll find all your favorite camping brands, like Black Diamond, Marmot, and Big Agnes, in addition to highly knowledgeable staff who can help you make all your shiny new toys work the way they’re supposed to.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/camping-done-right-7-essential-outdoor-stores-in-tennessee http://stepoutside.org/article/camping-done-right-7-essential-outdoor-stores-in-tennessee Wed, 15 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Gorgeous Beach Campsites in Tennessee Tennessee is widely known as a camping destination, and there’s no better spot to pitch your tent than nestled against the shoreline of one of Tennessee’s beautiful lakes. It’s tough to beat spending a night under the stars surrounded by nature, but waking up to a waterfront view makes the experience even better. Reserve your spot at one of these five gorgeous waterfront campsites in Tennessee. 

Located in close proximity to some of Tennessee’s whitewater rafting hot spots, this campground offers plenty of activities to make your trip enjoyable. Here you can book a site for your RV or tent, with tent sites just a stone’s throw from the lake. You also get access to boat ramps and mountain biking/hiking trails that are ideal for day trips.

This gorgeous lake has been a mainstay for campers because of its incredible birdwatching opportunities and natural surroundings. The lake is dotted with submerged cypress stumps and other aquatic plants that make for beautiful photography, as well as thousands of bald eagles in the early part of the year. Many of the campsites in the two campgrounds here are right on the shore, giving you some of the best lake views to start and end your day.

Situated on Cherokee Lake in east Tennessee, this family-friendly campground offers a safe place to park your RV while you enjoy all the area has to offer. You can snag one of their lakefront campsites, as well as enjoy the on-site fishing pond, family-friendly pavilion, fishing pier, and clean sandy beach.

This beautiful man-made lake is home to some of Tennessee’s most beautiful plant and wildlife, including the Tennessee coneflower. Campers can enjoy fishing for a variety of bass, including white, smallmouth, largemouth, and Cherokee, in addition to crappie, bream, catfish, and bluegill. The campground also features a 1.6-mile nature trail that takes you on a journey through Tennessee’s natural sights. 

This state park offers tent and RV camping to help you enjoy your stay your way. Cove Lake is a prime destination for wildlife viewers and those who enjoy natural scenery. Guests love coming here because of the abundance of hiking trails and fishing opportunities, in addition to its photogenic backdrops. The park features over 100 campsites, each equipped with water and electrical and most of them offering grills and tables.

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Syda Productions/Shutterstock.com http://stepoutside.org/article/5-gorgeous-beach-campsites-in-tennessee http://stepoutside.org/article/5-gorgeous-beach-campsites-in-tennessee Tue, 14 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Awesome Campgrounds for Families in Tennessee If you’re looking for a rustic camping experience in unspoiled nature, but don’t want to lose the modern amenities because you’re traveling with children, Tennessee is your place. Home to a variety of family-oriented campgrounds with long histories and endless accolades, you’ll find something for the whole family to enjoy at these five great campgrounds in the state. 

This 140-acre campground is owned by Malcolm, Barbara, and Greg Johnson. The Johnsons purchased the land in 1994 to make the area a family-friendly campground. They sure succeeded. The Tennessee Campground Association has awarded them with the “Tennessee Campground of the Year” award in years past, as well as several other accolades. Amenities include a climate-controlled bathhouse, laundry area, water park, playground, and a fenced in dog park for your four-legged friends! 

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This campground features 310 full hookup sites and 70 pull-through sites, each of them with a picnic table. You’ll find bathhouses with AC/heating, laundry rooms, a game room, a basketball court, two swimming pools, a lazy river, and so much more. There are also plenty of neighboring attractions like great restaurants, in case you’re looking for a nice sit-down meal. This site feels like a secluded camping experience, but you’ll have access to modern conveniences—perfect for those with small children! 

The North Campground at this recreational park is the family area. From 10 p.m. until 8 a.m., it’s quiet time—great news for those with little kids looking to get to bed at a reasonable hour. There is a half mile of riverside camping with both primitive and 30 amp electrical/water sites. For primitive camping, it’s only $7 a person per night, and kids under 12 stay free! Check out their canoe rentals for an adventurous day on the water. 

Situated in West Tennessee on 1,400 acres of land, Chickasaw State Park has a variety of camping options. There are 13 cabins, designed to sleep six people, outfitted with fireplaces and tucked away among beautiful pines. There are also 52 RV sites and 29 tent sites. Amenities include picnic tables, grills, bathhouses, and a playground.  

The main campground area at Rock Island has 50 sites RVs and trailers, and 10 sites for tent-only camping. The tent-only campsites feature lantern hangers, fire rings, charcoal grills, and picnic tables. Activities at the state park include boating and swimming in Center Hill Lake, birding, picnicking, hiking, and more. For those looking to use Center Hill Lake for boating purposes: Be sure to check the conditions online before you head out. During active spill periods at the Great Falls Dam, guests are not permitted to access certain areas. 

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ESB Professional/Shutterstock.com http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-campgrounds-for-families-in-tennessee http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-campgrounds-for-families-in-tennessee Mon, 13 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500