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Meeman-Shelby Forest and Big Cypress Tree State Parks

I don’t often get to West Tennessee so I made sure to visit a couple state parks on a recent trip. First, I visited Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park in the southwestern corner of the state, about thirty minutes north of Memphis. Then I visited Big Cypress Tree State Park in northwestern Tennessee, about 20 minutes south of Martin.


Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park


The surprise highlight of my trip to Meeman-Shelby was the front of the visitors center. In addition to a beautiful wildflower garden, there were six hummingbird feeders surrounded by more hummingbirds than I’ve ever seen in one place. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to stand so close to hummingbirds, and I didn’t know that they chirp. (I did some quick research on the sounds hummingbirds make and learned that they can make noise with their wings and tails too - so I don’t know exactly what I was hearing.) (1)



I enjoyed watching them dart from feeder to feeder, and while I tried to count them, I can only say that there were at least 15. I also saw a couple of American goldfinches and was told that indigo buntings also visit.


After finally leaving the hummingbirds, I went to hike on the Woodland Trail, but I didn’t get too far along this 3.10 mile loop before I had to give up. (2) Trees from past storms were blocking the path. While I could climb over some, I had to go around others, and I didn’t like leaving the trail and disturbing the forest floor.

A tree lies across a dirt hiking trail in the woods at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park in Tennessee

After leaving the Woodland Trail, I decided to walk for a bit on the park’s paved 2.5 mile bike trail instead. (3) Before you visit to hike the Woodland Trail, call the office and make sure the trees have been cleared.


Big Cypress Tree State Park


This park is named after a tree that was so large it was called “The Tennessee Titan.” (4) Over 122 feet tall and over 1,350 years old, this bald cypress tree was the national champion from 1950 to 1976 when lightning hit it and burned the tree. (5) Today, the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council lists this famous bald cypress as a “Heritage Tree,” a tree that isn’t living now but that still should be remembered as part of our state’s heritage. (6)


When I visited, I walked a paved trail that began behind the visitors center. Along this path, I saw the ruins of a house that belonged to the family that lived here before the park was established. (7)


The remains of a wooden cabin are surrounded by trees in Big Cypress Tree State Park in Tennessee

This path connects to a boardwalk. It was so peaceful walking through the forest.


A wooden boardwalk stretches through the trees in Big Cypress Tree State Park in Tennessee

The park map says the boardwalk leads to the half-mile River Trail, but I learned it’s actually been closed for a few years due to flooding. (8) Hopefully, it will reopen soon as park officials are working to fix the problem. (9)


The park also has a playground and picnic area, and I walked the paved .40 mile nature trail that encircles it. (10) On my way to the trail, I saw a beautiful wildflower garden with a couple of butterflies:

Two dark butterflies feed at fuschia-colored flowers in Big Cypress Tree State Park in Tennessee

I guess wildflower gardens and their visitors were the theme of my visit to these West Tennessee state parks. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Maybe I’ll see you out there!

 
  1. Informational panel on nature trail entitled, “A True Tennessee Titan”; https://tnstateparks.com/parks/info/big-cypress-tree

  2. Informational panel on nature trail entitled, “A True Tennessee Titan”; https://tufc.com/project/big-cypress/; https://tnstateparks.com/parks/info/big-cypress-tree

  3. July 13, 2023 conversation with park staff

  4. July 13, 2023 conversation with park staff

July 24, 2023

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