Get Out & Play: Put some ‘spring’ in your step

Carol EvansFeature

Isn’t it a beautiful sight when the trees and plants around us start blooming and welcoming spring?

East Tennessee is blessed with a bounty of beautiful flowering displays. Starting in early spring, you can see these beautiful buds while hiking in the woods, walking through parks, or even on the side of the interstate and lining our streets all around our town. But don’t forget to take a moment to get a close-up view and take in the spring blooms with all your senses.

Look up to the treetops for spring blooms. This time of year, budding dogwoods, redbuds, and red maples steal the show. You can join Missy Kane Friday morning for a five-to-six-mile walk along one of the East Lakeshore Dogwood Trails. Nestled about a half hour west of Knoxville along the banks of the Tellico Reservoir, this scenic trail system skirts the eastern shoreline of Tellico Lake and features nine interconnected trails that stretch more than 30 miles. Along the trail, there are numerous spots to stop and take in the picturesque views of the lake while observing the plentiful wildlife and wildflowers. Click here for more information on this hike.

The UT Arboretum located in Oak Ridge is a 250-acre research and education center that features more than 800 native and exotic plant species. There are nearly five miles of natural walking trails. Along the Heath Cove Trail, you’ll find a display of brilliant-colored azaleas and rhododendrons, laurel, andromeda, sourwood, trailing arbutus, huckleberry and blueberry. The Tulip Poplar Trail is where to observe our state tree and its beautiful blooms – you’ll find sassafras and dogwoods galore, too!

The William Hastie Natural Area features 6.3 miles of natural trails and old roads. The trails wind through a lush forest full of flowering trees, shrubs and plants. Look for these wildflowers popping out of the forest floor: spring beauty, Dutchman’s britches, celandine poppy, Virginia bluebells, Jack-in-the-pulpit, mayapple, trout lily and several species of trillium.

The Holston River Park is another ideal spot for exploring lush forests and blooming tree canopies. The park offers a scenic one-mile natural surface trail that contours the Holston River and meanders through the woods.

For more information on places to play outside and for a full list of upcoming spring hikes, visit

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