3 parks with water activities for a hot summer day
July 20, 2016 | Permalink
This week is set to bring some of the hottest temperatures we’ve had in Tennessee all summer. If you need a break from the heat and somewhere to cool off this weekend, we have several ideas. Here are three of our favorite parks with water features to whet your appetite for adventure and help you survive the weather:
1. Reelfoot Lake State Park
This park is located in northwest Tennessee and is home to the 15,000-acre Reelfoot Lake. Reelfoot Lake is Tennessee’s only natural lake. It is wide and shallow, with Cypress trees on the banks and Cypress stumps submerged below the surface of the water. The park is home to nearly every type of shore and wading bird, as well as gold and American bald eagles.
One of the best ways to experience the lake and wildlife is from a shallow-bottom boat, canoe or kayak. The park offers guided Lily Pad Canoe Tours several times during the month of July. While there are no guided tours this weekend, visitors can bring their own boats to the lake or rent a canoe or pontoon boat tour from the park. Fishing is also a popular activity. With a special lake permit, anglers can catch bass and catfish in the summer.
2. Tims Ford State Park
Located near Winchester, this park is home to a unique trail system that is only accessible from the water. It’s called a “Blueway trail”, and it leads boaters across the lake and through all of the major creeks and rivers that make up Tims Ford Reservoir.
The park’s marina has pontoon boat rentals as well as a boat launch and courtesy dock. You can also rent kayaks and canoes from the park. If you want to spend the night, there are several campsites overlooking the lake, and even a few primitive sites out on the islands. The primitive sites require a permit from the park office, but are great options for those traversing the blueway trail. The park also has 20 cabins on the slopes overlooking the lake.
3. Hiwassee Ocoee State Park
Located just outside Chattanooga, this park is the put-in location for local whitewater rafting companies. Not only is the terrain beautiful, but the rapids are world class. The rivers have Class I, II, III, IV, and V rapids and even hosted some events during the 1996 Olympic Games.
In addition to whitewater rafting, The Hiwassee River is a great place to float. The water still moves fast enough to create small waves and easy rapids, but it’s not as intense as some of the other sections of the park. There are some rules about life preservers and permits, but it is a beautiful, scenic destination. Just make sure you check with the park office before you hit the water.