Storybook Trails in state parks worth a trip

By Mike Steely

My wife and I were pleasantly surprised to find a “Storybook Trail” at the Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park recently and last week we drove to Frozen Head State Park near Wartburg and discovered another one in that park.

There are now 17 Tennessee State Parks with Storybook Trails sponsored by the Governor’s Early Literacy Program. I can tell you that adults also like the brief hikes where you can follow a story written and illustrated for children. Every few yards there’s another couple of pages that eventually ends at the end of the trail.

At Frozen Head, the trail and the story of a little fox and a polar bear begins near the visitor’s center and runs up and behind a parking lot, just off the road and beside a stream. The path is well kept and the story interesting. We began in the middle of the trail, took it to the end, and them my wife doubled back to catch the beginning of the story and how the two characters met.

You’ll find Storybook Trails nearby at Cove Lake, Norris Dam and South Cumberland Mountain State Parks. Outside our area the story book trails are at Edgar Evans, Long Hunter, Henry Horton, Montgomery Bell, Pickett CCC Memorial and Bledsoe Creek parks.

There are area Storybook Trails at Cordell Hull Birthplace and Hiwassee Ocoee State Parks.

In 2018, Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) launched the Storybook Trail program by partnering with Tennessee State Parks Conservancy, city parks and outdoor areas to provide a children’s storybook, presented on child-height panels, along a short trail to promote adult-child interaction around books and nature. The trails feature reading tips on each page panel to bring the book to life with the surrounding nature. In addition to promoting literacy and caregiver engagement, the Storybook Trail program encourages families to connect with nature and engage in a healthy, outdoor activity

Frozen Head State Park has more than 22,000 acres of mostly undisturbed forest with wildflowers and bird watching. The state acquired the land in 1894 as part of Brushy Mountain Prison which is located across the mountain from the park. In 1970 the state created the park and in 1988 most of the land became a state natural area.

It features a tent camping area, various picnic tables  and shelters. The Visitor Center has a large assembly room and gift shop. The park features planned programs and hiking and biking trails. Knox County residents may take Highway 27 from Oliver Springs and go north to Wartburg. You can find the park on the internet or call (423)346-3318.

Nearby points of interest include the Obed National Wild and Scenic River, Lone Mountain State Forest Horse and Bike Trail, Brushy Mountain Prison, and the Morgan County Courthouse in Wartburg. The town was named by the German founder for Wartburg Castle.

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