If you find yourself feeling a little guilty about overindulging at the table this Thanksgiving—and getting outside is more appealing than shopping on Black Friday—a nearby state park may have the answer.
Many state parks in the region have after-Thanksgiving hikes scheduled for Nov. 24.
Click on the name of each park in the following lists for more information about that hike.
Booker T. Washington State Park
This annual ranger-led, after-Thanksgiving hike will be from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
Cumberland Trail State Park
This is a hike to test your survival skills and practice your turkey call, led by Ranger Anthony Jones. It starts at 8 Central time and ends at 10.
Fort Loudoun State Historic Park
Fort Loudoun’s annual Green Friday Hike on the Meadow Loop and Lost Shoe trails takes place in the afternoon, from 3:30 to 5. The hikes are almost 4 miles.
Harrison Bay State Park
Work off your dinner with a fun hike along the shores of Chickamauga Lake from 10 to 11:30 a.m.
Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park
A ranger will lead a hike on the Old Copper Road Trail to a view of Ocoee Dam No. 3, then 3 miles to the Whitewater Center and back. Times are 1:45 to 5 p.m.
Red Clay State Historic Park
Learn about local plants, animals and geography on a short hike and interpretive tour at the former capital of the Cherokee Nation beginning at 10 a.m.
Cumberland Mountain State Park
Join this easy 2-mile, ranger-led hike on the Pioneer Short Loop Trail from 10 a.m. to noon.
Fall Creek Falls State Park
A ranger will lead the Turkey Pen Trot, a 2-mile hike on the Turkey Pen Ridge Trail, where hikers will learn about the waterfalls and wildlife of Fall Creek Falls along the way. It begins at 9 a.m. Central time.
Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park
This ranger-led hike will circle around the park’s Enclosure Trail. It begins at 10 a.m.
Rock Island State Park
Burn off some calories on a 1.5-mile, 2-hour hike, where you’ll learn about TVA history and the inadvertent creation of Twin Falls and then hike to the Blue Hole. It begins at 8 a.m.
South Cumberland State Park
Ranger James Holland will lead a 2-mile round-trip hike to the Collins West Overlook and Suter Falls from 2:30 to 4 p.m. CST.
Tims Ford State Park
The 4-mile Gobble Waddle Hike explores views of Tims Ford Lake, with a stop at the scenic Devil’s Den Waterfall and Cave, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. CST.
Learn about after-Thanksgiving hikes scheduled at all 56 Tennessee state parks here.
Below are nearby, but out-of-state, activities:
Cloudland Canyon State Park
A 2-mile night hike (5 to 7 p.m.) on one of the best trails at the park will inform participants about the geology and history of the canyon. Reservations are required. Admission is $10 plus a $5 parking fee.
Also at Cloudland Canyon, on Nov. 25, is Sitton’s Gulch Hike. This moderate-strenuous 6-mile hike will start at the bottom of the gulch and go up 600 stairs, passing Hemlock and Cherokee falls before returning 3 miles downhill. Learn about the plants, animals, geology and history of the canyon along the way. Reservations are required. Admission is $15 plus a $5 parking fee. It’ll last from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Fort Mountain State Park
Join a ranger on this moderate Avoid the Madness Hike. Admission is $3 plus a $5 parking fee. Hours are 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Also at Fort Mountain, on Nov. 25, a Get Fit Level 1 Hike will take participants on an easy-moderate 1.6-mile hike around the Lake and Big Rock trails. Registration is requested. Admission is $3 plus a $5 parking fee. It begins at 10 a.m. and will last approximately an hour and a half.
Learn about after-Thanksgiving hikes at state parks across Georgia here.
DeSoto State Park
Bring your dog on the Chase the Squirrel Hike on the Never-Neverland Trail. Fees are $10 with a dog, $5 without a dog and free for children 10 and under. This hike is Nov. 25 from 9 to 11 a.m.
Your furry friends are also welcome on the You’re Not You Without a Snickers Hike, which will focus on the importance of keeping up nutrition levels during physical activities. Fees are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. It’s an hourlong hike that begins at 11 a.m.
See more events planned at DeSoto State Park Nov. 25 here.
This is the fourth year that Tennessee has offered free guided hikes at all 56 of its state parks the day after Thanksgiving.
“There is a national sentiment that getting outdoors to spend time with loved ones around the holidays is a wonderful way to reconnect and recharge,” Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill said in a prepared statement. “Tennessee State Parks aims to offer all Tennesseans the opportunity to get outdoors to engage in healthy, fun activities.”
Visitors to Tennessee state parks are encouraged to share photos of their hikes on social media with the hashtag #thankful4hiking.
Bob Butters explores nature and the outdoors, primarily in and near the South Cumberland region, and publishes the blog www.Nickajack-Naturalist.com. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.