All Posts (789)

So excited with what is happening in Atlanta with the Atlanta Beltline--for greenspace and transit and to connect the city.
The Atlanta Beltline Arboretum is an amazing endeavor for this city and such a great opportunity. Look at this link to learn more: http://www.beltline.org/Implementation/AtlantaBeltLineArboretum/tabid/2932/Default.aspx
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Tree Protection Supply has been posting informational how to videos on tree care on our blog. We hope this series of videos will help landowners and land managers get the most out of their planting investment and help tree planters make a big impression when their client's trees are outgrowing their neighbors. We can all admit it, everybody likes to look over the fence and say "Whats taking your trees so long? Mine are 3 times that big!!"
We hope by watching these videos that it will spark more questions and allow us to provide more answers to our clients. Our first video post is on why its important to prune your planting stock at the time of planting and demonstrates the problems associated with not pruning your trees when they are planted and tree tubes are installed. Even if you are not installing tree shelters, these problems will exist for those trees left out on their own.
We have chosen to make this our first video as most people have already planted their trees for the year and so its too late to prune at the time of planting all those crabapples, persimmons, walnuts, apple trees and other hardwood species. In case you didn't prune or thought why take the time, take a moment to see how 30 seconds can change the life of your tree and how that small amount of time will create a healthier and larger tree faster!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWUYDZM2dnQ

We all know trees will grow themselves, but why wait??


Thanks for Watching,

Scott Berta

TPS

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Hugger of Trees, Steward of Water

Many states across the Southeast have water stewardship laws in place – or will in the future. What does this mean for those of us that feed our plants like we do a fat cat? It’s diet time for your watering habits.

For the sake of the planet, here are a few tips on how to water your thirsty greens efficiently.

  • Water at the roots, not the foliage. You save water and lessen the chance of disease.
  • Water at night to reduce losing water to evaporation.
  • When you water, water deep. Watering lightly and frequently causes roots to grow closer to the surface, which in turn makes them require more water.
  • If you have a sprinkler system, consider investing in newer equipment, for example rain and soil moisture sensors or simply more efficient sprinkler heads and rotors.

For more information on how to conserve water this summer visit http://www.gaepd.org/Documents/outdoorwater.html or http://www.conservewatergeorgia.net/documents/indiv_outdoorTips.html

[Photo credit: gardenofeaden.blogpost.com]

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What trees can do for you


You plant, you water, you fertilize and you cherish them. And what do you get in return? Most of us know the general perks: Clean air, shade, reduced soil erosion and of course, natural beauty. But did you know that trees and other plants are nature’s state-of-the-art water filters, purifiers and even coolers?

Here’s a list of all the ways trees are keeping your rivers, lakes and streams clean and fresh this summer:

  • Preventing thermal pollution (the heating of water runoff) through water absorption and shade. This protects aquatic environments and keeps them cool and refreshing in the summer heat. Did you know that an unshaded stream can get up to 20 degrees warmer than a shaded stream?
  • Capturing pesticides, sediment and other runoff before they are swept away into nearby waterways.
  • Intercepting up to 12 percent of rainfall, slowing entry into the stormwater system and allowing more time for the water to be naturally absorbed and filtered so that stormwater systems are not overwhelmed
  • Protecting shorelines with a series of deep root systems. We like going to the river, but we’d prefer the river not come to us.
  • Recycling fresh water into the air, which ultimately results in those welcomed afternoon showers that break the summer heat.

Click here for more information on how trees are protecting your lakes and streams.

[Photo Credit: blog.lordelginhotel.ca/]

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Trees of America's Grove

The citizens of Galveston lost most of their 100 year old trees but not their strong will and determination to survive as a community. Under the leadership of the town tree committee and the new Galveston Island Tree Conservancy, the town developed an ambitious plan to replant 25,000 trees over the next five years. These trees will go into schools, neighborhoods, parks, and boulevards. This year they successfully planted 5000. Here is planting at a popular neighborhood "Adoue Park", shadowed by one of the lost souls and future sculptures

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Trees of America's Grove

Galveston: On September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike hit Galveston Island and the City of Galveston. This storm was every bit as large as the great hurricane of 1900. While the town's sea wall did save most of the city form the storm, surge and resulting salt intrusion from Galveston bay killed upwards of 23,000 live oak trees. The city found themselves with an instant loss of precious tree canopy and a silent spring. Many of the stumps were carved into sculptures - memorials to their beloved trees. This in front of the house of the woman, who at the time was the mayor of Galveston.

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Trees of America's Grove

There are only 5 surviving veterans of WWI, world-wide, ranging in age from 107 to 110. This grove was planted in Danville VA to memorialize their home town fallen WWI heroes. Each tree has a plaque bearing the name of the fallen. Like the surviving veterans, these tree are beginning to "age out". Danville is replacing these 100 year old willow oaks one-by-one as they are lost, and along with them, fresh plaques with the names of those never forgotten.
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Trees of America's Grove

The 107 acre Ballou Park in in the heart of Danville (a small mill town located in Southern Virginia), is said to be the oldest urban park in Virginia, established sometime in the mid 1800s. Imagine these old trees as youngsters over 120 years ago!
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"Green" vacation destinations

Hawk's Nest Hideaway in Mentone, Alabama

This two-bedroom, two-bath mountain getaway is nestled on top of north Alabama’s Lookout Mountain. Guests can hike Little River Canyon, the country’s second-deepest river canyon, view beautiful waterfalls, take canoe rides through nearby rivers, ride horseback down the trails or fish in the pond. Click here for more information.

Deer Run Bed and Breakfast in Big Pine Key, Florida

This Caribbean-style inn is a state of Florida-certified green lodge. Located on a private, dead-end street two miles from the highway, Deer Run Bed and Breakfast’s beachfront property enjoys picturesque views of the Atlantic Ocean. Organic, vegetarian breakfasts are offered every day and obtained from as many local sources as possible. Guests can charter scuba dives and eco-kayak nature tours. Big Pine is home to the endangered Key Deer (pictured right), not found anywhere else in the world. Nearby Bahia Honda State Park offers guests opportunities to gaze on unique and rare plants, flowers and birds. Click here for more information.

Serenbe Community in Palmetto, Georgia

Serenbe, located in the heart of Chattahoochee Hill Country, is a national model for sustainable development that joins land preservation and balanced development together. It features an organic farm, an inn, stables, art galleries, nationally acclaimed restaurants and more. Serenbe has received the Urban Land Institute's inaugural Sustainability Award. Serenbe’s trees are highly valued and store the equivalent of 7,213 cars’ carbon emissions for a year. Guests seeking to escape the noise of Atlanta or the stresses of every day life have a variety of places to stay at Serenbe, including the Dogwood Cottage, an EarthCraft-rated building with a fireplace on the common screen porch overlooking the lake. In 2009, the New York Times dubbed Serenbe a “Sonoma for the New South.” Click here for more information.

The Bed and Bike Inn in Gold Hill, North Carolina

Guests seeking relaxation or adventure should check out The Bed and Bike Inn. Located in the Uwharrie Mountain region, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy road/mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing, golfing and horseback riding. Wine tours, shopping tours, eco-tours, moonlight kayaking trips and night mountain biking adventures are also available to guests. They offer a $10.00 discount to anyone arriving in a hybrid vehicle. Click here for more information.

The Inn at Middleton Place in Charleston, South Carolina

Located on the bluffs of the Ashley River, the Inn at Middleton Place offers a relaxing retreat surrounded by natural beauty and many outdoor and educational amenities. It received the Urban Land Institute’s Sustainability Award for its extensive, leading-edge efforts in modern sustainability, conservation and eco-friendly practices. Guests can enjoy daily guided and self-guided walking, biking and kayaking tours of the woods, marsh and river or enjoy horseback rides on wooded and open trails. Riding lessons are offered to adults and children. Admission for two (a $70 value) to Middleton Place Gardens, House Museum and Stableyards is included in the price of your stay. Click here for more information.

Miracle Farm in Floyd, Virginia

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this eco-friendly resort offers private accommodations, spa amenities, organic vegetarian breakfasts featuring locally grown food, and 25 acres along a river and stream, surrounded by woods and fields. Guests can hike or bike through the property where wildlife abounds. Birdwatchers will not be disappointed. Organic vegetable gardens are filled with flowers and provide beautiful settings for leisurely walks. Click here for more information.

[Photo Credit: Tripadvisor.com]

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Taking nature for grant it!

We built our cabin on a wooded lot in 2005, which we cleared ourselves. We kept as many of the mature trees as possible. I liked the loblolly the best and were able to save about 25 of them. I love the way they smell and grace our land. We lost 5 to the beetles the summer of 2007. Last winter one of the largest loblolly's was struck by lightning. We were saddened, but knew that the 150 year old giant had to come down. We found someone to cut and remove it. Now we were left with a huge hole on our otherwise wooded property line.After a lot of clean-up we were able to plant 8 loblolly's in it's place. Of course we couldn't stop there. We were on a roll and planted and additional 8 leland cypress, 6 holly, 6 wax myrtle, 4 cedar and 18 azaleas'. It's still looks a little bare, but with time, water and a lot of patients the hole will fill in. Next fall I hope to plant several carolina all-spice. I couldn't find any in my local nursery's this year. It feels good to plant something in the ground. We take nature for grant it. It is not going to be here forever.
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Bridging Roots for Healthier Trees

More cement and asphalt paths are being created through woods in parks as alternative transportation corridors and to view nature. Typically the paths are placed adjacent to mature trees. The damage often shows well after the contractors have left the scene. The cement compresses and damages roots and can prevent water absorption but the most damage occurs during installation when the ground is graded and roots are dug up and/or compressed. The first choice would be to build such a trail outside the critical root zone, however, often this is not an option. I have seen two solutions to the problem. One was to literally bridge the roots with a boarded walkway, piers, anchors, and/or bridge. A promising and less expensive technique called “root bridging” uses expanded slate and geo-textile fabric to prevent soil compaction. The path is then laid on top of slate and fabric. While root bridging is not ideal for the roots under the "bridge", it does provide an opportunity for the roots to move to an area of less compression. This method was recently used in the Atlanta Botanical Gardens path through Storza woods. I have heard claims of cost reductions due to less soil having to be moved around. More importantly who wants a path with a bunch of dead or dying trees along it!

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Can a street tree be too big?

Municipalities often wonder how big their street trees will become and if they will create damage to surrounding infrastructure, however New Orleans seems to have different ethic, let them grow! As a result they have one of the most amazing urban forest in the country. We know the the issues surrounding an uneven sidewalk, but have we considered the advantages? Perhaps with an expectation of uneveness, there would be more awareness and less accidents. Humans did not evolve walking on flat surfaces. Anyway, below is a picture of street tree that has exceeded all expectations, one example of thousands in New Orleans.

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Trees of America's Grove

Big is not necessary for spectacular! This addition to my post on Trees of America's Grove (trees I have to visit in my travels across the country), is a moss covered ancient dwarf Japanese Maple tree located on the grounds of the Japanese Garden in Portland OR. This picture was taken June 13, 2010 during Portland's Rose Festival.

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Trees of America's Grove

This is a 60 inch diameter plus live oak tree of tremendous tenacity, surviving construction damage and the winds and floods of hurricane Katrina. The tree is located along the front drive of the Imperial Palace hotel in Biloxi MS, site of this years Southern Group of State Foresters meeting. The picture was taken June 10, 2010,

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As the world gets smaller through global commerce and international travel, disease and pests also find themselves migrating from region to region, country to country and continent to continent.

Since insects fly, crawl and generally move about, they are easier to spot than signs of disease or other abiotic impact (i.e., pollution, poor soil conditions, improper care). Some inserts are dangerous to trees because they eat bark, flowers and leaves, bore into the wood and cause other problems.

However, running to your local hardware store for a bottle of insecticide is not the healthiest solution for your trees. Killing all insects rids your tree of the bugs that can protect it – leaving your tree open to further infestations.

In addition to insect infestation, disease can rapidly attack and destroy a healthy tree and can spread to other trees through root systems, infected soil, the air, insects and other channels. Diseases need certain conditions to infect a tree: a willing or susceptible host, favorable conditions and perfect timing.

To protect your trees, follow the steps below.

  1. Plant hearty trees and cultivars generally resistant to disease
  2. Add compost to the root zone and use fertilizer to strengthen trees against disease and insects
  3. Prune and rake regularly to help prevent against insects that bore down into twigs and lay eggs; regularly checking for and removing infected twigs and raking fallen limbs and twigs during early spring removes hidden egg nests
  4. Hard, steady streams of water remove and/or kill bugs that may be infesting your tree
  5. Create your own insect traps; slugs are attracted to beer, aphids to soapy water and white flies and cucumber beetles to yellow, so place shallow dishes of beer or soapy water near the tree, or coat a yellow object with something oily and sticky

For more information, visit websites from Treecology and North Carolina State University.

[Photo Credit: Allen’s Tree Service, Inc.]

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Our furry friends sometimes like to snack on unusual things, including the plants in our gardens. However, some of these plants can be dangerous to cats and dogs – even in small amounts. To keep your pets safe, try the following steps:

  • Read labels on plants and shrubs before you purchase them to make sure they are safe for your cat or dog
  • Watch your pets when they are rooting around in the garden and take note of what they are drawn to
  • Keep pets away from areas recently sprayed with pesticides
  • Store fertilizers and poisons out of reach of pets

Check out the complete list of toxic plants for dogs and cats from the ASPCA.

On the other hand, sometimes you need to protect your garden from the neighbor’s beagle who likes to dig up your tulips. To keep your garden safe from nosey cats and dogs, try the following:

  • Place cement blocks or chicken wire from the bottom of the fence to a few feet below ground to keep out (or in) dogs that burrow
  • Trim limbs and branches that hang over the fence to keep cats out (or in) your yard
  • Create a fenced yard within your yard to separate the garden from the dog run
  • Use raised planting beds for berries, veggies and ornamental plants
  • Surround young trees in wire enclosures to protect them as they grow

Do you have any other ideas? Share them with us as comments below.

[Photo Credit: WebMD, LLC]

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Love of Trees and all things GREEN

I was so excited when I found this site!! I have always surrounded myself with trees even when I lived in the desert. There is just something special about the way trees change a landscape, provide shelter in a storm for humans and wildlife, and stand so stoic even when all the leaves have gone. There is such an energy that emanates from their roots and trunk that can best be felt by being a tree hugger!!!
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For our friends in Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Viriginia, here are popular hiking trails for you, courtesy of Trails.com.

Mississippi

Black Creek Trail: Fairley Bridge Landing to Janice Landing in Wiggins – This 16.6-mile hike requires moderate skill level and begins its upstream trek in the lower Black Creek valley before making its way to the Red Hills before briefly turning toward the Mississippi River and away again to hill country and through the Black Creek Wilderness. The trail exits the wilderness at a parking area near Janice Landing.

Black Creek Trail: Janice Landing to Big Creek Landing in Wiggins – This 24.1-mile continuation of the lower trail mentioned above requires moderate skill level and closely follows Black Creek, providing easy access to cool waters and white sandbars. Hikers should closely monitor white blazes as the trail can be hard to follow at times. The trail features numerous swamps, sloughs and wetlands that play host to pitcher plants. Moodys Landing provides great river views. The trail travels near the site of an old, abandoned Civilian Conservation Corps camp and then crosses a highway before returning to Black Creek.

North Carolina

Mount Mitchell in Asheville – Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi, is one of the most cherished parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP). The summit is only a five-mile detour from the BRP. The 1,700-acre Mt. Mitchell State Park, North Carolina’s first state park, includes six of the 10 highest peaks in eastern North America. This trail includes three hiking options, Mt. Mitchell Trail to Mt. Mitchell, Balsam Nature Trail and Black Mountain Crest Trail, varying in difficulty from easy to strenuous.

Grandfather Mountain in Linville – Grandfather Mountain is a rocky, spectacular summit known to tourists for great views and Mile-High Swinging Bridge. Grandfather Mountain’s 4,000 acres are home to 43 species of rare or endangered plants and animals. This trail includes three hiking options, Tanawha Trail and Daniel Boone Scout Trail to Calloway Peak, Grandfather Trail and Profile Trail, varying in difficulty from easy to strenuous.

Appalachian Trail: Carvers Gap to Roan High Bluff & Rhododendron Gardens in Bakersville – This 5.60-mile loop requires moderate skill level and features Roan Mountain, the largest of the southern Appalachian grassy balds, and boasts beautiful Catawba rhododendron. This moderate hike features two high points, excellent views and several different mountain habitats. This section of the AT goes from Carvers Gap to the site of the Cloudland Hotel and features two additional U.S. Forest Service trails.

Oklahoma

Black Mesa - Oklahoma Highpoint in Kenton – This 8.4-mile moderate hike is not recommended for young children. Hikers should watch out for rattlesnakes and be aware that there is no water available leaving the trailhead and should carry and consume at least 2 quarts of water during this hike. Kenton is the only town in Oklahoma on Mountain Time. Average time: 3 – 5 hours.

South Carolina

Raven Cliff Falls in Greenville – This 6.6-mile, moderate skill day hike travels to one of the highest and most scenic cascades in the eastern United States. Raven Cliff Falls now features a swinging footbridge and hikers have two choices - go to the overlook for a spectacular, slightly distant, view of the gorgeous falls or walk to the suspension bridge and stand right above the falls.

Jones Gap Trail in Greenville – This 10.6-mile, relatively easy day hike travels along the scenic Middle Saluda River from Jones Gap State Park to Caesar's Head State Park. The Jones Gap Trail was built in the 1840s by Solomon Jones as a toll road. Legend says that Jones would release a pig into the woods, believing it would take the easiest path. The trail follows the Middle Saluda River.

Huntington Beach State Park in Myrtle Beach (photo on left)– This easy 8.7-mile day hike travels through freshwater and saltwater marshes, sandy beaches and maritime forests in a state bird habitat. Huntington Beach State Park is a relatively secluded and well-preserved 2,500-acre expanse of undeveloped beach with easy public access. The Sandpiper Pond Trail provides hikers with a pleasant journey through layers of coastal ecosystems.

Tennessee

Alum Cave Bluffs in Gatlinburg – This 4.6-mile moderate day hike is a must. Highlights include: Cascading Creek, Arch Rock and Alum Cave Bluffs views. This is a very popular hike, so unless hikers take to the trail in winter, expect company.

Big Frog Mountain Trail in Ocoee – This 5.6-mile moderate hike offers outstanding views of the surrounding mountains, including the Cohutta Wilderness to the south and the Tennessee Valley to the west. Numerous possibilities also exist for loop trips and point-to-point trips.

Maddron Bald Overnight Loop in Waynesville – This moderate skill level, two-night trip travels 17.8 miles and is one of the most popular backpacking loops in the entire park. The trail travels along the lower reaches of Gabes Mountain, passes Henwallow Falls and offers virgin woodland to camp at Sugar Cove. On the second day, hikers head up to Albright Grove, which contains some of the park's largest trees. Hikers camp along a creek near Maddron Bald, which sports awe-inspiring views both above and below. The return trip travels Snake Den Trail.

Texas

Enchanted Rock in Austin – This 5-mile easy day hike loops onto and around a large pink granite dome and provides rock climbers with excellent rock face. Permits are required for camping.

Lost Maples in San Antonio – About 50 miles southwest of Kerrville, this 4.6-mile easy day hike travels through bigtooth maples in a narrow Hill Country canyon. Permits are required for camping.

Dinosaur Valley in Ft. Worth – About 60 miles southwest of Fort Worth, this 4.3-mile easy day hike travels through the hills above the Paluxy River and features dinosaur tracks and exceptional views. Permits are required for camping.

Brazos Rivers in Houston – About 45 miles southwest of Houston, this four-mile easy day hike follows along part of the Brazos River and features a lush forest and red buckeyes in the spring before looping back.

Virginia

Big Devils Stairs in Front Royal – This 5.4-mile moderate hike is an easy walk visited by few hikers. The nearly level Bluff Trail follows along the Big Devils Stairs canyon rim and offers a great view of the valley below and the mountains beyond. The site also hosts a shelter used by through-hikers on the AT. Average time: 3.25 hours.

Whiteoak Canyon Falls in Stanley – This 5.6-mile hike is great for families with children. Six numbered falls start from the Blue Ridge Mountains and end at the base of the canyon. This classic Shenandoah hike offers canyon views and unmatched beauty.

Great Falls Park in Great Falls – This easy 3.4-mile hike weaves land and history throughout Great Falls Park and includes the spot where George Washington championed a canal to skirt the Potomac River’s 77-foot “great falls.” The trail features canal ruins, inspired views over Mather Gorge, wildflowers and historical ruins. The terrain features rocky cliff tops, dirt footpaths, dirt roads, riverside trails, hardwood forests and marsh. Average time: 2 hours.

What are your favorite hiking spots in the Southeast? Let us know in the “Answers” application – you can get to it by clicking on the “Extras” tab on the top tool bar. You can also leave a comment below.

[Photo Credit: Trails.com]

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Odwalla, the Half Moon Bay, Calif.-based fruit juice and snack bar company, currently has a "Plant a Tree" campaign for you to choose where you want a tree planted. Each vote equals one tree planted in a state park.

To cast your vote for your home state, visit http://www.odwalla.com/plantatree/.

As of this afternoon, here are the tree planting standings for states in The Grove:

  • Alabama: 0
  • Arkansas: 199
  • Florida: 61
  • Georgia: 9
  • Kentucky: 7
  • Louisiana: 3
  • Mississippi: 0
  • North Carolina: 134
  • Oklahoma: 1
  • South Carolina: 166
  • Tennessee: 8
  • Texas: 337
  • Virginia: 714

The current leader, Pennsylvania, has 966 trees plantings. It's time to catch up! This is an easy, FREE way to bring more trees to your state.

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What better way to get your family excited about the outdoors than with a fun day hike? While hiking with children may take more preparation and patience than when hiking with fellow adults, there is no substitute for the excitement and enthusiasm children have for the outdoors. With every new path comes the chance to discover a new tree, plant, bird or bug!

Keep in mind that even though children exhibit seemingly endless energy, they tire easily. Choose a trail that will provide an exciting adventure for without being too strenuous a challenge for the littlest legs in your family.

No child is too young to hike and observe the world around him or her. A good first lesson is how to spot and avoid poison ivy.

Here are some of the most popular hiking trails for families by state, courtesy of Trails.com.

Alabama

  • Borden Creek Trail in Double Springs - This 4.8-mile, kid- and adult-friendly dirt trail travels through the Sipsey Wilderness. Sandstone cliffs line the trail and form a canyon as the trail moves along the Sipsey River. There is also a 100-foot cave next to a waterfall for families interested in spelunking. Average time: 4 – 6 hours; dog-friendly.
  • Lakeshore Trail in Cahaba Heights – This three-mile, easy skill-level, paved trail is Birmingham’s newest greenway that will eventually connect the Jemison Park Nature Trail with West Homewood Park. In the meantime, the section between Brookwood Village and Columbiana Road is open to runners, walkers, inline skaters and bikers.
  • Lost Falls Trail in Fort Payne – This 3.2-mile dirt trail takes hikers to Laurel Falls, Lost Falls and Azalea Cascade. Needle Eye Rock, a boulder that has split in half, leaving an “eye,” is a popular attraction, as are the CR Caves, carved out by Laurel Creek over time. The trail features some rocky slopes and requires easy to moderate skill level. Average time: 2.5 – 3.5 hours; dog-friendly.

Arkansas

  • Winding Stairs Trail in Glenwood – This 3.5-mile trail follows the Little Missouri River and requires moderate skill level. The Albert Pike Recreation Area, located about 45 miles southwest of Hot Springs, is one of the most popular spots in the Ouachita National Forest. The trail overlooks cascading waterfalls, rock outcroppings, scenic views and swimming holes.
  • Lost Valley Trail in Osage (photo below) - This 2.1-mile scenic trail along Clark Creek features caves and waterfalls. Hikers wishing to explore Eden Falls Cave should bring flashlights. The trail crosses Clark Creek by a wooden bridge, passes an amphitheater and follows a railroad line on a gravel path. The trail features cedar and pine trees, moss-covered rocks and wildflowers which attract a lot of butterflies.

Florida

  • Blackwater River State Forest in Milton – This state forest features various trails ranging in length from 4.5 to 21 miles, all easy to moderate skill level. The forest is also used to harvest timber and contributes as much as $5 million in revenue to the state’s timber industry. Wild azaleas with white, pink or yellow-orange petals decorate the forest. The Jackson Red Ground Trail is a special attraction which retraces Gen. Andrew Jackson’s route during his 1818 campaign in Florida.
  • Kissimmee River National Scenic Trail in Lake Wales – This 23-mile trail is perfect for the family who wants to enjoy backpacking and camping along the trail. An easy to moderate hike, depending on rain, the trail follows the Kissimmee River where wildlife is abundant. Sandhill cranes, white-tailed deer, turkeys, wild hogs, hawks, alligators, eagles and various water birds are often sighted.

Georgia

  • Appalachian Trail: Springer Mountain to Hightower Gap in Suches – This nine-mile trail provides excellent northwest views of the Cohutta Mountains from the summit of Springer Mountain, the Southern end of the Appalachian Trail (AT). The trail also travels by Long Creek Falls and features many old-growth hemlock trees. Average time: 5 – 6 hours.
  • Amicalola Falls State Park Trails in Dahlonega – Amicalola is a Cherokee word meaning “tumbling waters.” Amicalola Falls, formed by Little Amicalola Creek cascading 729 feet, is the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. The state park has nine hiking trails totaling six miles and two staircases with 602 steps. The trails range from easy to short, strenuous climbs and are designed to maximize hiker’s view of the falls. All trails are well marked and carefully maintained.
  • Appalachian Trail: Neels Gap to Hogpen Gap in Blairsville – This 6.4-mile moderate skill level trail features open ridgetops with excellent views, numerous wildflowers and well-graded trail, and is in close proximity to Neels Gap. The trail has one hard climb out of Tesnatee Gap, which can be bypassed. Camping is permitted and water is available within half a mile of most sites. The Whitley Gap Shelter is a 1.2-mile hike down a side trail with good views. The trail also offers access to the Raven Cliffs Wilderness Area. Average time: 4 – 5 hours.

Kentucky

  • Raven Run Nature Sanctuary Trail in Lexington – This easy skill level 3.9-mile hike journeys to a Kentucky River overlook and includes a scenic creek gorge. A house built by the Prather family in the late 1700s on a Revolutionary War land grant still stands. The Raven Run Nature Sanctuary features a variety of wildlife including deer, wild turkeys, more than 300 species of wildflowers and a well-developed system of trails totaling about eight miles. Most hikers follow the longest trail, the Red Trail, in a counterclockwise loop.
  • Courthouse Rock and Double Arch Trail in Stanton – This 6.1-mile moderate skill level trail offers a ridgetop view of the Red River Gorge and features Courthouse Rock, a multi-story building sized boulder, as well as Double Arch, positioned prominently on a ridgetop. This hike also includes unobstructed views of the gorge area from a narrow ridge hikers cross on the way to Courthouse Rock.
  • Mammoth Cave Park Long Loop Trail in Bowling Green – Mammoth Cave, the largest cave system in the world, features more than 350 miles of known underground passageways and is the reason most visitors come to the national park. The park also features 52,830 above-ground acres which are full of creeks and waterfalls, punctuated by colorful wildflowers. Running across it all are some 70 miles of hiking trails. The 15.7-mile trail requires moderate skill level.

Louisiana

  • Driskill Mountain - Louisiana Highpoint in Arcadia – This two-mile trail follows a road up to the “Highpoint” in an easy hike marked by white blazes and climbs a mere 125 feet in elevation. Average time: 1 hour.
  • Wild Azalea Trail in Alexandria – At 26 miles, the Wild Azalea Trail is Louisiana’s longest footpath, requiring only moderate skill level. Located in the Kisatchie National Forest, the trail runs from southeast to northwest. The trail is home to five ecosystems and features plenty of vertical variation. This trail is not for the novice hiker, but does not present a strenuous challenge.

Check back on Wednesday for more trails in additional states.

[Photo Credit: Arkansas.com]

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