Plan a Safe Spring Adventure with MapGuide

Although COVID-19 has triggered cancellations of festivals and gatherings for now, spring continues to unfold… and you can still enjoy it!

When spring bursts onto the scene in the Tennessee River Valley, it awakens the senses and usually prompts multiple celebrations across the TVA seven-state region. This year, this feast for the eyes is an opportunity to practice social distancing at its best, outside. The Tennessee River Valley Geotourism Map Guide is your guide to thousands of possibilities.

Hiking, Kayaking or Camping, Anyone?

The woodlands are waking up, creating a magical time to be at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area (LBL), a 170,000-acre playground nestled between the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers in the Western Region of the Valley. Three hundred miles of undeveloped shoreline and more than 500 miles of trails are ready for fishing, camping, hiking and boating adventures that can create healthy distances between individuals.

Put a kayak in the water and enjoy a stunning sunrise. Hike awhile, then loop through the Elk and Bison Prairie. Stop and photograph a newborn bison or stately elk, or simply admire the herds. Scenic drives and interpreted history round out this rewarding jaunt.

Travel tip – For current info, visit the alerts page at LandBetweenTheLakes.US. 

Spring migration time

Kentucky’s Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge; Tennessee NWR, its sister refuge, Cross Creeks; as well as Wheeler NWR in Alabama, continue to welcome nature lovers to their public lands.

“Along with fishing and hiking, bird watching is a popular activity at these refuges located in the Mississippi Flyway,” explains Ranger Joan Howe. “Ordinarily, visitors would have to travel a long way to see birds like bobolinks, dickcissels, black-throated warblers and others. But these exciting ‘spring migrants’ generally stop at our refuges in the Western Region of the Valley, and you can spot them when you visit.”

While refuge visitor centers and associated facilities may close temporarily, the refuge roads, overlooks, hiking trails and boat ramps will most likely remain open. Check for updates before you plan your trip.

Travel tip – To discover what birds are traveling through the region, visit Tennessee and Alabama birding sites on Facebook.

TVA’s Small Wild Areas

From the Muscle Shoals Reservation in Alabama upriver into the Eastern Region of the Valley, TVA trails feature one of the most beloved harbingers of spring: colorful wildflowers.

Traditionally, one of the best ways to experience these beauties is TVA’s popular Wildflower Walks at Norris Dam’s River Bluff Trail. While this year’s guided walks have been canceled, enthusiasts can still hike this 3.2 mile loop on their own.

Part of a TVA Small Wild Area (SWA), the trail is filled with patches of wildflowers ripe for exploration. Keep your eyes peeled for yellow trout lilies, celandine poppies, and toothwort. Download iNaturalist or a wildflower app to learn more.

Other SWAs in the region include: Trotter Bluff , Johnson Ridge and Worthington Cemetery. Visit TVA’s small wild areas to learn about the 28 small wild areas, 16 feature trails.

Take a drive

Quilts have moved from beds to barns on the American Quilt Trails, which feature painted replicas of historic quilt squares mounted on local buildings and farm structures. The Appalachian Quilt Trail and Alabama Barn Quilt Trail create opportunities for gorgeous spring drives, interesting history and unparalleled photo opportunities.

Need a longer adventure?

Discover fun times with trip plans like Go Fish, Alabama Hallelujah Trail, East Tennessee Flatwater Paddling Adventures and more.