Tennessee Wild to lead hikes to proposed wilderness areas in Cherokee National Forest

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For Immediate Release

June 22, 2010

Contact: Jeff Hunter (423) 322-7866

Tennessee Wild to lead hikes to proposed wilderness areas in Cherokee National Forest

Chattanooga, TN - On June 9, Senator Lamar Alexander introduced the Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2010 on the floor of the US Senate.  The legislation is co-sponsored by Senator Bob Corker. This bill will designate nearly 20,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest as federally protected Wilderness.

Tennessee Wild will be leading a series of outings to all of the areas represented in the Tennessee Wilderness Act.  These trips are free, open to the public, and vary in difficulty. "We are hoping to get Tennesseans out onto their public lands to see these great places that Senators Alexander and Corker have proposed for protection," stated Jeff Hunter of Tennessee Wild. "Senator Alexander has stated that this is a good bill for Tennessee families.  We couldn't agree more, and we're hoping some families will join us as we explore these beautiful areas," Hunter added.

July 10-11, Backpack the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness Study Area and the Tapoco lands.  This strenuous 12-mile (round trip) overnight backpack trip will explore a little visited area just south of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trip will offer opportunities to swim in Calderwood Lake, visit a 30' high cascade, and camp on lands that were not open to the general public only a few years ago.

Saturday July 17, Day hike to Bob Stratton Bald.  This moderately strenuous 8-mile hike will skirt the Citico Creek Wilderness and take participants to a beautiful mountain meadow where we will enjoy lunch (not provided).   

Saturday August 14, Day hike in the Little Frog Wilderness.  This moderate 5.4 mile hike along the Rock Creek Trail will take participants into the heart of the Little Frog Wilderness.  Children and their parents will have a chance to explore the refreshing waters of Rock Creek where we will enjoy our lunch (not provided).

Saturday August 21, Day hike into the Big Frog Wilderness.  This easy 2.5 mile hike along the Big Creek Trail is suitable for families with young children (age 5 and up).  We will walk a short distance along a beautiful trail and enjoy lunch (not provided) alongside a creek where children can play in the water.

Saturday September 11, Day hike into the Sampson Mountain Wilderness.  This moderately strenuous 7-mile hike will explore the existing wilderness area. The hike will include the scenic Turkey Pen Cove and Middle Spring Trails.

Saturday September 25, Wilderness Photography Class.  Bill and Laura Hodge will lead this one day photography class in the Tellico Ranger District near their home in Coker Creek, Tennessee.  The day will include discussion of digital photography techniques, in-the-field shooting and highlight the Upper Bald River Wilderness Study Area.

Saturday October 4, Day hike to Whigg Meadow.  This 3.2 mile round-trip hike is suitable for families with young children.  We will hike from the Cherohala Skyway (near Tellico Plains, TN) where we will have lunch (not provided) and play in the meadow. 

Sunday October 10, Day hike of Upper Bald River Wilderness Study Area.  This easy 4-mile hike along the Brookshire Creek Trail will take participants to a beautiful waterfall where we will enjoy lunch (not provided).  A ford of the Bald River is required, but should be no deeper than mid-calf.  The trail is an old rail grade, so no steep climbs are involved. This is another great family hike.

October 16-17, Two Rivers Backpack. This strenuous 17-mile backpack will start at the Ocoee River and follow the Benton MacKaye Trail north.  Along the way we will hike through the Little Frog NW Wilderness addition, pass through areas rich in wildlife, and follow beautiful Lost Creek.  The hike concludes at the Hiwassee River.  Participants must provide their own gear for this overnight trip.

October 22-24, Appalachian Trail Backpack - Big Laurel Branch Wilderness. This strenuous three day, 17-mile trip will take participants along the ridges of Iron Mountain where we will explore the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Participants must provide their own gear.

All hikes are free and open to the public.  Registration is required and space is limited on each hike.  For additional information or to register, please contact Jeff Hunter at 423-322-7866 or jeff@safc.org.  Additional information can also be found at TNWild.org.

Tennessee Wild is dedicated to protecting wilderness on the Cherokee National Forest for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations. We aim to educate the public about the benefits of wilderness and promote volunteerism and the sound stewardship of Tennessee's wild places.

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