I love camping. I love everything about it, from unrolling that musty matted mess of nylon and net to the reward of sitting next to the fire picking sticky marshmallow mush off my mouth. This time of year, I am especially drawn to the warm colors of our cooling season. If you are looking for a place to unwind and unplug, Henry Horton State Park is less than 30 minutes away! Located near Chapel Hill, the park was built in the 1960’s and named after the former governor of Tennessee who once owned the land. Aesthetically outlined by the Duck River, the park is known locally for its miles of scenic trails which weave their way across pastures and through woods beckoning adventurers of all ages. There are 4 different trails, all relatively flat, on which you might discover interesting habitats like cedar glades, hickory woods and an old mill community. For those who want to spend the weekend sleeping under the stars, there are over 75 campsites from backcountry primitive to RV suitable sites with electricity and water. All sites have tables, grills and fire rings. If you would rather a more structured abode, the park also offers 7 rustic cabins and the Horton Park Inn, featuring 65 rooms and 4 suites. Right across the street sits one of the finest golf courses in the state; the Buford Ellington Golf Course. This course is a part of the Tennessee Golf Trail, and one of only 3 courses architected by the renowned Jack Nicklaus. Tee times are available 7 days a week. If all of this has made you hungry, you’re in luck! The park is home to the award-winning Governor’s Table Restaurant and The Tipped Canoe lounge. “The Governor's Table Restaurant is the first state park restaurant in the country to achieve Eat REAL certification for sustainable and healthy food service. Eat Real is a nationally recognized standard for foodservice operations that focuses on nutrition and sustainability.” -tnstateparks.com All food is made with fresh ingredients, including herbs and produce from their onsite garden and they also carry a variety of local spirits, wines and beers as well. You’ll want to commemorate your new memories by walking over to the cute little gift shops to find that perfect Tennessee treasure!
Meet the Stevenson family: Ross & Jenny, Justus (age 13), Matthias (age 11) and Silas (age 7). This “all-boy” Spring Hill family are experts at discovering ways to incorporate physical activity in an outdoor setting. While they spend their summers adventuring across the country in the RV, the Stevensons have made Henry Horton their local go-to for day trips to the park. Justus says he loves to see the wildlife while Silas looks forward to jumping the rocks and kayaking. Matthias sums it up by sharing that he enjoys playing games together and the whole experience in general! Jenny Stevenson offers a word of encouragement for families of all kinds, “State Parks have so much to offer! You can just sit and enjoy the scenery or hike, bike, kayak, play frisbee golf, play in water, etc. There’s truly something for everyone to enjoy! The quality time that we get as a family makes each state park trip special!”
The tranquility of the Duck River provides visitors with swimming, fishing and kayaking. Land activities include disc golf, baseball, basketball, tennis and volleyball. Dozens of picture perfect picnic sites and pavilions are scattered across the park for your picnics.
One final hidden jewel that Henry Horton hosts, is a seasonal Farmer’s Market. You won’t believe it unless you go! Every Saturday morning from June to October, dozens of tents pop up along the main road creatively displaying goods and wares from fresh fruits and veggies to unique hand-made gifts and treats. Check out their facebook page for updates and live-stream from past events.
*WEATHER: Checking the forecast before an outdoor trip is a must! To be prepared for any weather, dress in layers and toss an emergency poncho in your backpack!
*FIRST AID: Raid your medicine cabinet and fill a plastic sandwich bag with go-to items such as bandaids, antiseptic wipes, pain & allergy meds, sunscreen and bug spray.
*WATER: Hydration is the most important thing to remember when spending several hours enjoying park activities. Drinking about half your body weight in ounces is a great goal for feeling your best!
*SNACKS: If you’ve ever spent a day playing outside, you know how hungry you can get! Make sure to pack plenty of snacks to enjoy throughout the day.
*pictured: Energy Bites- peanut butter, oatmeal, flax seed, pecans, dark chocolate chips, honey, vanilla & Black Bean Brownies - black beans, coconut oil, honey, dark chocolate chips, oatmeal, a little sugar