Friday, November 21, 2008

Best places to run near and around Lee

The temperatures are plummeting drastically across the area and outside running/walking is become increasingly scarce. Unlike this time a month ago, scenic runs & hikes are hardly what they used to be (unlike you're in mountainy terrain). But as warmer weather invades the south periodically throughout the winter, chances are high those indoor runs should be exercised outside. Not to leave out the fact several trees have managed to maintain its leaves despite last weekend's windy afternoons. And in case you haven't noticed, with the gradual lack of 'outsiders', now may be the time to enjoy that serene run - one void of awkward makeout couples and saturated sidewalks of cocky underclassmen clusters. With that said, here's my top four places to run, walk or hike near and around Lee University campus (within a respectable driving distance).

4) Schimmel's Park - For those who prefer the peaceful run, weekends and late nighters (post 8-9 pm depending on the day) are the best time to take advantage of the Schimmel's track. Sure runs in the dark may not be your personal preference, but anytime you have 20-30+ people roaming about the park, runs can become painfully distracting. Sometimes mixing these runs by doing a various of campus loops (the Church Street loop for instance) can be enough to keep your runs from reaching lackluster state.

3*) Cherokee National Forest - For most hikers, the Cherokee National Forest has the most variety of trail difficulties, from easy to advanced. Both the Appalachian Trail and the Benton McKaye trail run through the area, providing hikers with opportunities to hike long distances if they choose.

2*) Red Clay State Historic Park - The last of the council grounds of the Cherokee Nation before their removal along the tragic Trail of Tears. A Cherokee farm and council house of the period have been replicated to offer visitors a glimpse of how the area might have looked 150 years ago. The sacred council spring produces over 400,000 gallons of sapphire-blue water a day, providing the area's long-ago residents with fresh spring water. An interpretative center houses a theater, exhibits and artifacts. Recreational facilities include a 500-seat amphitheater, a picnic pavilion, picnic area with grills and tables, and a two-mile loop trail with a beautiful limestone overlook tower. This trail is perfect for beginners and for hikers with small children.

1*) Fletcher Park - A 720-acre passive, nature oriented park. Five-mile walking trail, 100+ year-old springhouse, fishing pond and picnic area. Other features are a boardwalk, observation walkway and amphitheater. On Tennessee Nursery Road.

* = Information courtesy of

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