After I moved to Tennessee, it took a few years to really appreciate how much there is to enjoy outdoors in the winter.
Where I grew up in Wisconsin, people went ice fishing and snowmobiling, but even those activities were off limits when temps and wind chills plunged below zero.
In Tennessee, I've discovered that winter hiking is actually even more enjoyable than exploring during the summer months. During winter there are expanded views, rich color contrasts with hemlocks and holly green, an absence of tics and spiders, and often, very comfortable days in the 40's and 50's.
Summer, on the other hand, can feel like a tropical rain forest, thick with humidity and spider webs. There's nothing quite being drenched in sweat and walking face-first into a thick silky web. (yeah...just imagine that for a minute...)
Last week, I shared a post about great reads for a snowy day. One of the authors I featured, David Haskell, wrote his first book (check out the book trailer) about a patch of land in the Southern Cumberland region of TN - between Nashville and Chattanooga. This area of the state is simply stunning! And one of my most favorite winter hiking spots.
There are definitely rugged, challenging hikes. And there are also options accessible for beginners.
The Grundy Forest end of the Fiery Gizzard Trail has an easy two-mile loop trail, much of which borders a river with multiple waterfalls and swimming holes.
Walking the trail is an experience walking back in time through the Earth's layers of limestone, sandstone outcroppings and bluffs. In just one afternoon, you can travel back hundreds of millions of years...it is a fascinating appreciation of time, especially in our hurried world.
Below are photos I took during an early January hike on the Grundy Forest day loop. And yes, it really is THAT green in January!
If you can't visit yourself, enjoy a few minutes here on the trail.