A Tennessee Park Adventure!

Tennessee State Parks are the best!  We love every visit we make and usually stay around the Middle Tennessee parks but we decided to venture to West Tennessee to make some additions into our Tennessee State Park Passport! (In the picture above you can see our passport!  This is such a fun tool to journal trips with your kids!  Pick one up at the ranger station next time you visit a park!)

I have to say, I am so thankful for the many trips we've taken this year and a lot of it is due to the income I've been blessed to get through teaching with VIPKID!  I have lots of information on my Facebook page and would love to talk to you more about the job if it is something you are interested in!  I have a referral code if you sign up here at this link and you can also email me to talk about the requirements!  We've gone to the beach in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee Aquariums, and several State Park getaway weekends all from the income I have saved (after taxes!) from this job!

This weekend we visited Pickwick Landing, Shiloh National Battlefield, and Big Hill Pond

Pickwick Landing

Pickwick is one of the parks with an inn and restaurant and when you want to travel last minute, it is the affordable and easy option especially if you only want to stay one night!  I was so impressed with the park!  I actually prefer it over Montgomery Bell and Henry Horton inn facilities!  They gave us a family backpack that had 3 field guides, binoculars, 2 magnifying glasses, and 2 compasses!  We had a blast!  The binoculars came in handy while watching an Osprey circle the river! The hike was not as impressive as some of the other state parks, but it was still a lot of fun and easy to do with the kids!

The Island Loop Trail is the first stop we made when we arrived.  It is 2-3 miles of really easy terrain!  It can be pretty marshy in a wet season though!  We also saw a lot of folks fishing along the trail!


There is a map on the All Trails website and app and also on the park's website here!


The kids loved watching the water as we did the Island Loop Trail! I was impressed that through the hike there were stands that would give information about the trees, animals, and park history!  There is an old barge moored in the river with a placard that gives information about the packing industry of the area!  (And yes, we could smell the factory this weekend! Ha!)

And did you know the park got it's name from a Charles Dickens novel "The Pickwick Papers?"  Fun fact and a great literature connection for the kids!

Eva Mae is fearless so daddy keeps a grip while she throws rocks in the river!

The information stands along the trail also had history facts from the area.  Many old homesteads once stood where the park grounds are and there are cisterns still on the property!  We took a peek into this one and followed the advice on the sign to stay on the path and not look for others! 
Back at the inn, we enjoyed the water and did a little wading while watching the boats!  The kids used the magnifying glasses to practice making a stick smoke!  No fires were started! 

After dinner at the inn the kids had a blast swimming in the indoor pool!  The outdoor pool is also beautiful and it will be fun to come back after Memorial Day!
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Nick and I enjoyed the "State Park Blonde Ale" while hanging out on our balcony porch from the room!  If you swipe left on the IG link you can also see a fun video we made of a frog (actually, I misidentified and it is a Fowler's Toad!)

Shiloh Battlefield National Park

On our way to Big Hill Pond State Park we went to the Shiloh Battlefield and spent some time in the visitor's center, bookshop, and cemetery. 

The kids enjoyed learning about the Civil War with some hands on activities and museum displays!  It's a great place to learn more and they also have a theater with programs.  We didn't stay for any but when we study the Civil War in depth I would like to come back and have them learn more.  I bought this Civil War Stories book for my own reading and also to have for the kids when they get older!  (Click here to see it on Amazon #afflink)

The cemetery was a beautiful and peaceful place with thought provoking poetry lining the pathway.  It was a great opportunity to talk with the kids about respect and reverence. 

We even got to see some fun nature today with yellow finch, pileated woodpeckers, and the best one of all, a scarlet tanager!  The kids loved watching the squirrel mama below dart up and down the tree with her babies!

Big Hill Pond State Park

We closed up the day with a hike at Big Hill Pond State Park and it was a glorious 2.5 mile hike!!!  The views were incredible and the terrain was so diverse!

We started out on a pretty steep and rocky decline into the "Dismal Swamp!"  Yes, that is really the name!!!  I told Nick it sounded like a name out of Pilgrim's Progress!  On our way down we could see the trickles of several water sources moving down the hill.

When we finally got down the hill we were at a really long boardwalk that went across the swamp.  I can only imagine how tough that must have been for the engineers to build.  It is very wet!
While walking across there were all these knobby looking tree stumps poking up and we learned they are called "Cypress Knees!"  


After making it across the swamp and hiking back up a hill we climbed the top of the lookout tower to see an incredible view!

Try not to get too dizzy watching my 360 video below!

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Thanks so much for reading my little review!  I love writing posts like this so we can look back and remember our homeschool trips with fond memories!  Eva Mae and Christian were talking a lot about Paris (they watched an episode of Arthur in the inn last night!) and while Christian was reviewing his Tennessee State Parks Passport and looking at the TN map, he shouted "Hey!  There is a Paris Tennessee!  Too bad they don't have an Eiffel Tower."  The kids were amazed when I told them they DO!!!  Our next fun family Tennessee trip will be to see the Eiffel Tower replica in Paris, TN! If you have any tips for that area of the state let me know!!!


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