Big Hill Pond State Park and Pickwick Landing State Park are hosting the annual First Day Hike on Saturday, along with all Tennessee State Parks.

Shiloh National Military Park is also hosting a hike on New Year’s Eve for those interested in a history lesson to go along with some exercise.

Park Ranger Canon Smith will lead Big Hill Pond State Park visitors along Turkey Call Trail to kick-off the new year. The 2.45-mile hike will begin at 9 a.m. and includes crossing the Dismal Swamp boardwalk, a climb up a 70-foot observation tower, and crossing the Travis McNatt Lake levee to finish. During the hike, Ranger Canon will stop and teach hikers about the nature and wildlife of Big Hill Pond.

“This is a way to get people started out on the right foot,” said Smith. “There’s lots of stuff to see on Turkey Call Trail.”

Visitors to Pickwick Landing State Park will be led by Park Ranger Brandon Weber down Cabin Area Island Loop Trailhead. Starting at 2 p.m., guests will learn about the history of the wildlife and culture of the park.

Ranger Brandon hopes his visitors realize a deep relationship with Pickwick Landing State Park.

“I want to let people how they have a connection to this public land,” said Weber.

To participate in First Day Hikes at Big Hill Pond State Park or Pickwick Landing State Park, visitors are asked to sign-up on the Tennessee State Park Website (www.tnstateparks.com) no later than Friday. Visitors are recommended to wear sturdy and comfortable shoes and to dress appropriately for the weather.

Big Hill State Park is located at 1435 John Howell Rd near Pocahontas, Tenn. off of U.S. Highway 57 in McNairy County. Pickwick Landing State Park is located at 116 State Park Road in Counce, Tenn. near the intersection of U.S. Highway 57 and 128.

Ranger Canon Smith can be reached by phone at 731-645-7967 and Ranger Brandon Weber at 731-458-7818.

Shiloh hike with history

Shiloh National Military Park will host a special ranger-led holiday hike, “The Final Confederate Assault: Dill Branch Ravine” on Friday, Dec. 31. Ranger Timothy Arnold will guides participants along the route of the final Confederate charge to take Pittsburg Landing on April 6, 1862.

Participants will follow the path where hundreds of Confederate soldiers descended a steep slope into the flooded valley of Dill Branch Ravine while under the fire of Union gunboats and then charged up the north slope of the ravine only to be pinned down by Union artillery fire at their front. Hikers will learn about the units involved in the assault, the obstacles they faced, and will reach the “high water mark” of the Confederate Army at Shiloh.

The hike will take place from 10 a.m. – noon and hikers will meet at the park Visitor Center. The distance of the hike is three miles over rugged terrain and steep slopes. Participants should wear clothing and footwear appropriate for the weather and conditions. Insect repellent and water is recommended.

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