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State park plans outdoor activities
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Rock Island State Park will be ushering in spring with numerous activities this month. Family friendly guided hikes are on the schedule beginning this weekend.
“Come celebrate spring and all its splendor by getting outside and enjoying a guided hike or talking with park rangers and special guest naturalists,” said park interpretive specialist Dava Lundquist.
Activities begin this Saturday, March 9 at 1 p.m. Enjoy a family friendly guided hike with state naturalist Randy Hedgepath. It’s a 1.5-mile walk of moderate intensity to view native spring wildflowers on the Downstream Trail. The trail follows along the bluff to a rock overhang with views of the Blue Hole.
“We will stop for a snack and enjoy good company,” said Lundquist. “Randy’s extensive knowledge and fun personality are sure to please hikers of all ages.”
Sturdy shoes, water and sack lunch are recommended. Meet at the Twin Falls Overlook off Powerhouse Road in White County.
On Sunday at 1 p.m., join a ranger-led hike on the Eagle Trail. Visitors will meet at the Blue Hole parking lot for a 1.5-mile hike.
“This is the only trail with hemlock trees and a great way to learn more about the Hemlock Wooly Adelgit and how it is affecting the forests in our backyard,” said Lundquist.
A Waterfall Weekend will begin March 16. The schedule includes:
• 10 a.m. — Join a park naturalist for a discussion and view of the 30-foot horseshoe falls at Great Falls. Learn about the historical significance of this water to generations of visitors to this area. Groups can caravan to Twin Falls. Meet at the Old Mill parking lot.
• 10:30 a.m. — Observe the majestic 80-foot falls at Twin Falls while discovering its creation and history from the park naturalist. Meet at the Twin Falls Overlook.
• 11 a.m. — Book signing and a guided hike with author Mary Priestly. Meet at the Downstream Trailhead for the book signing and guided 1.5-mile hike.
Priestly has written and illustrated a new children’s book for ages 7-12 showcasing the wildflowers of the South Cumberland Plateau. The book includes over 50 beautiful illustrations by noted botanical artist, the late William Crutchfield.
March 17:
•  11 a.m. — Flower identification and guided hike to Baby Falls. Meet at Badger Flat Picnic Area to discover unique species of wildflower blooming, followed by guided 1.5-mile hike along the Eagle Trail. The hike will be easy to moderate intensity along the river.
• 2 p.m. — Meet at the Blue Hole parking lot for a trip to see the Blue Hole cascades. Participants should be prepared for a steep and wet walk into the falls themselves.
Additional events are set for later in the month.