It’s getting scary out there (not really)

Carol EvansOur Town Outdoors

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s October, and everyone’s starting to play catch-up with Hallmark.

All sorts of activities are taking on a Halloween theme or paying tribute to the spooky side of life outdoors. Try to find one that complements your affinity for costumes. Better yet, dress up your pet and take embarrassing pictures!

Get started today with the Pawsitively Spooky 5k Run/Walk at 6 p.m. at Victor Ashe Park. There’ll be costume contests, dog-friendly events and a photo op – now that’s scary.

Big Ridge State Park has Ghost House Hikes tonight at 7, 7:30 and 8, as well as at 7 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18. Be sure to register online. Happy Haunting!

Feel like howling at the moon? There’ll be full-moon paddles for the Hunters Moon this Sunday night at both Mead’s Quarry at Ijams Nature Center and The Cove at Concord Park.

Next Friday, Oct. 18, try the Ijams Family Spooktacular at Ijams Nature Center in South Knoxville, with nocturnal animal games, campfire songs and stories and spooky trail walks. Nature-themed costumes are encouraged. I’m thinking sloth.

On Saturday, Oct. 19, Ijams will present a Spooktacular Night Hike at Burnside Pavilion at Founders Park in Farragut. Participants will search for bats, raccoons and other nocturnal critters and learn how they prepare for the upcoming winter. Costumes are encouraged for this one, too. Would bat be too obvious?

Also on Oct. 19, park rangers at Frozen Head State Park will lead a spooky tour of the Brushy Mountain Prison Mines. OK, now this one might get a bit real. You’ll hear stories of the depravities that took place in the mines. And it’s a four-mile hike, so you’ll have time to think about it on your way up and back.

Day hikes

If you prefer to hit the trail in the daylight, check out Saturday’s Brushy Mountain Shuttle Hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Saturday, Oct. 12. You’ll put in 9.4 miles on the hike, which takes you to the summit of Brushy Mountain.

And if you simply want a beautiful hike, head to Rock Creek Gorge with the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club on Oct. 12. Hike leader Cindy Spangler says the only thing scary about it will be poison ivy, so wear long pants.

Playtime in SoKno

South Knoxville is home to the Urban Wilderness, and you can take advantage of the variety of the UW this weekend. On Saturday, Oct. 12, head over to the Ijams Primal Playground ribbon cutting at 2 p.m. at Mead’s Quarry. The ceremony will be followed by facilitated activities on the new Ijams Primal Playground, a first-of-its-kind green exercise space.

On Sunday, start early in the day with the Knoxville Track Club’s I.C. King of Trails Race and Kids Trail Mile at I.C. King Park on the other side of Chapman Highway. Then you can enjoy the beauty of Marie Myers Park in a hike led by Mac Post of the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club, starting in the Will Hastie Natural Area.

If you’re inspired by all the free adventure offered by the Urban Wilderness, give back Sunday afternoon by helping with Keep Knoxville Beautiful’s Fort Dickerson Cleanup.

For details on these and other area outdoor activities, check out the Outdoor Knoxville calendar.

Carol Evans is executive director of Legacy Parks Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to ensuring that our community enjoys exceptional recreational opportunities, natural beauty and open spaces, and that those assets exist for generations to come.

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