I am not a morning person. If I'm going to get up with the sun, I need a really good reason.
The 15th Annual Long Hunter Mega-Hike was just such an occasion. (1).
On October 23, 2021, I joined about 40 people at sunrise for my first Mega-Hike experience. (2). During the Mega-Hike, participants hike all of the park's trails in one day - about 26 miles total. (3). Of the 40 who began the day, 18 finished the entire Mega-Hike. (4). While I only planned to hike the first several miles, I hope to join the ranks of those 18 intrepid hikers next year.
Our guide, Jason Allen, started the Mega-Hike with Fred Dickson in 2007 after Allen wondered if they could hike all of the park's trails in a single day. (5). After they completed that first trek, others heard about their feat, and the event has grown each year. (6). Now the Friends of Long Hunter State Park sponsor the hike. (7).
My favorite feature of the Mega-Hike is that I don't have to carry everything I'll need for the day. At different points throughout the trek, hikers have to drive to reach new trailheads. (8). This allows hikers to keep extra water and supplies in their cars and restock while traveling to the next trail. (9).
Even though I'm a frequent visitor to Long Hunter State Park, I got to try out trails that I had never hiked before. Our first trail of the day, Couchville Lake Arboretum Trail, was new to me. This 2-mile trail is paved and follows the edge of Couchville Lake. (10). It was so peaceful and beautiful. Check out all of the park's trails at https://tnstateparks.com/assets/pdf/additional-content/park-maps/Long_Hunter_web.jpg.
Another trail featured a Reading Ranger Story Trail. These trails display a children's book on panels so kids can read a story while hiking.
I'll be training in 2022 to prepare for the 16th Annual Mega-Hike next October!
https://www.facebook.com/longhunterstatepark and http://tn-nature.blogspot.com/2021/ and "Mega-Hike at Long Hunter State Park" by Jason Allen, The Tennessee Conservationist, September/October 2020 issue.
"Mega-Hike at Long Hunter State Park" by Jason Allen, The Tennessee Conservationist, September/October 2020 issue.