Volunteers learn proper trail assessment techniques. (Photo: Contributed)

If you’re a hiker or outdoors enthusiast who enjoys all that South Cumberland State Park has to offer and would like an opportunity to give back, you’re in luck, as the park could certainly use your help.

For starters, Ranger Jason Reynolds is leading volunteers on a project to build a 3-mile loop trail in the recently acquired Sherwood Forest section of the park. This trail features panoramic bluff views of Lost Cove and surrounding areas, and will be accessed via a trailhead off Old CCC Road near Franklin State Forest.

Reynolds plans to work on the new trail each weekday in hopes of completing the loop in time for the Oct. 20 dedication of Sherwood Forest.

You’re also invited to join South Cumberland State Park, REI, the Southeastern Climbers Coalition, The Access Fund and Friends of South Cumberland from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT Sept. 30 for National Public Lands Day at Denny Cove. The trail to Denny Falls is progressing, but help is still needed moving rocks, cutting trail tread and clearing undergrowth.

Once this section of trail is complete, Deny Cove, currently only open on weekends, will be open seven days a week.

Learn more or sign up for either project here.

Become a Trail Friend
The Friends of South Cumberland, in conjunction with the park manager and rangers, has created a new program called Trail Friends.

Volunteers, or Trail Friends, will be stationed at three popular trailheads during periods of high visitor traffic to welcome hikers, provide information and answer questions about the trail.

The trailheads involved in the program are Stone Door at Savage Gulf State Natural Area, Grundy Forest at the north end of the Fiery Gizzard and Foster Falls at the south end of the Fiery Gizzard.

Volunteers are needed for shifts on Fridays from 2 to 5 p.m., Saturdays from 8 to 10 a.m. and 10 a.m. to noon, and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. during the peak visitation months of September, October, April and May.

In order to be a Trail Friend, you’ll need to complete three training sessions with a park ranger and master additional online curriculum. Training classes are underway, with the initial Trail Friends being deployed at the trailheads this fall.

Learn more or sign up here.

Another opportunity to help
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is requesting a statewide assessment of trails in all 56 state parks to be completed by Dec. 31.

Small teams of three, ideally two volunteers led by a ranger, will inspect every inch of trail in the parks, including trailheads and bridges. Problems encountered will be documented and submitted to the state for their use in prioritizing fund expenditures and establishing a timeline for scheduling trail improvements.

If you’re interested in serving on a trail assessment team, there is a brief, no-cost training session to complete first. Sign up here.

Wait, there’s more!
In addition to the above opportunities, there’s a need for volunteers to help get ready for the Oct. 20 dedication of the Sherwood Forest addition and with the Friends’ Oct. 21 Goldenrod Gala, as well as maintenance on trails at Grundy Forest and Grundy Lakes.

Learn more or sign up for these projects at the Friends of South Cumberland’s website.

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