Reelfoot Lake offers tours on foot, by canoe

Reelfoot Lake offers tours on foot, by canoe
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
An up close and personal view of Reelfoot Lake is being offered by the Reelfoot Lake State Park staff this fall. Journeys into the state park are being offered by foot and by canoe.
A series of hikes into an old growth cypress forest is being offered during the weekends from Sept. 15 through Nov. 18. The hikes will begin at 9 a.m. and are expected to last about three hours.
Hikers will meet at the Reelfoot Lake State Park Visitors Center and will carpool to the trailhead into Little Ronaldson Slough, one of the largest stands of old growth bald cypress trees in Tennessee.
Many of the trees in that area are 30 feet in circumference and the largest tree is about 40 feet in circumference, according to state park interpretive specialist David Haggard. He is one of the key organizers of the hikes and canoe trips.
“This area is usually accessible only by canoe or kayak, but because of the historically low water levels, it is now accessible by hiking,” a news release states.
The weekend hikes will not follow a traditional trail. The two-mile hikes will weave through a very remote area and are considered moderately strenuous.
“This is a place few people have visited and it could be years before these trips are offered again,” the news release states. “We have spent years exploring the swamps of Reelfoot, and this is one of our favorite places on the lake.”
There will be no hikes on Oct. 6-7, Oct. 27-28 or Nov. 3-4.
There is no charge to go on the weekend hikes, but reservations are required. Reservations can be made by calling (731) 253-9652.
The schedule for the canoe floats on Reelfoot Lake has also been released by Haggard. The canoe trips will begin at 3 p.m. and will last until sunset from Sept. 15 through Nov. 18. On Oct. 27, the canoe trips will be offered at 9 a.m. and at 1 p.m. and there will be no canoe trips offered Oct. 6, 7 and 20.
On the weekends that canoe trips are scheduled, state park naturalists will lead the trips.
“Fall brings thousands of migrating birds, including American White Pelicans and Bald Eagles,” a news release states. “The cypress turns a rusty red and there is no better time to explore this unique natural area. Navigate through thousands of cypress stumps during historically low water levels for a rarely-seen view of Reelfoot Lake.”
The canoe trips will get organized at the visitors center and the group will carpool to the area where the canoe trip will start. There is no charge for the canoe trips, but reservations are required.
Participants will be provided with canoes, life jackets and paddles for the trip and are encouraged to bring water, a snack, sunscreen and insect repellent.
Reservations can be made by calling the visitors center at (731) 253-9652.
For more information about the hikes or the canoe trips, email Haggard at David.Haggard@tn.gov or Keith Paluso at keith.paluso3@gmail.com.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 9.7.12

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