Fans of the outdoors have another trail they can use while also reading a book. Tims Ford State Park will be hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony next Saturday, March 20, to officially celebrate its newer Storybook Trail.
According to Park Ranger Destiny Adcox, the trail itself has actually been at the state park since last May, but COVID-19 prevented the park from having a formal “grand opening” and trail celebration. The Old Awalt Road Storybook Trail is made up of an old road bed from pre-lake times that, as far as park staff can tell, used to be Old Awalt Road, hence the name. The trail is a little under half a mile in length, giving walkers, runners, hikers and storybook readers just under a mile of trail to trek down and back. The trail also has a “nice, easy slope,” meaning hikers of any skill level will have no trouble walking the trail.
“It has been a hit for families – especially with smaller children – and other frequent visitors,” Adcox said of the trail.
The trail is just one of 10 trails located inside the state park, Adcox said. Some trails are paved, ADA-compliant trails, while others are natural surface trails with significant elevation changes. Additionally, some of the trails connect, giving long-distance hikers or bikers can take advantage of the park.
Adcox said funding for the trail came from a grant she wrote through the Tennessee Trails Association for the Evan Means Grant and partnered with the Friends of Tims Ford State Park. The overall cost of the trail project was just $1,136.26, with the entire cost covered by the TTA grant.
The book currently on the trail is titled “Anybody Home?” which features main character Polly ‘Possum, who is looking for a new home for her expected opossum children. While searching for a new home, she meets a host of nocturnal – awake during the night – and diurnal – awake during the day – animals and learns how they make their homes in the world. The book is written by retired teacher and librarian Marianne Berks and illustrated by Rebecca Dickinson.
When selecting the books for the trail, Adcox said she tries to keep the books themed around nature and animals, and “Anybody Home?” fit right into the theme – as well as her own personal appreciation for opossums.
“When I was designing and working on developing the Storybook Trail, I looked at several nature-themed books,” she said. “I thought the book was cute and had talking points for a wider scope of children’s ages. I also really enjoy teaching people about opossums, because people generally have a negative feeling associated with them, but they’re really cool and one of my favorite animals.”
Opossums are the only marsupial native to North America and they have a lower body temperature than most other mammals, Adcox said.
“We think this is why they are mostly immune to diseases like rabies or Lyme disease,” she said. “They’re also immune to stings from bees or scorpions and they’re immune to snake bites. On top of that and carrying their babies in a pouch and then on their back, they eat a ton of ticks!”
“Anybody Home?” will stay on the trail for another few months before being rotated out for another book, Adcox added. The books on the trail will rotate yearly.
The grand opening ceremony will take place at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, March 20 at Tims Ford State Park. Attendance is free, though advance registration is encouraged. Attendees can register for the event online at tnstateparks.com/parks/events/tims-ford/#/?park=tims-ford.