Cedars of Lebanon State Park

Mar 4 - 7, 2019



More info on Hike Trails

3/4/19 4:40pm

Left Memphis right at 10am and made good time to Cedars of Lebanon State Park. Knew I would forget something (left the breakfast sandwiches at home, so I had to stop in Lebanon at Wal Mart to pick some up before getting to the park).

Checked in....wow love my cabin (#5) and it looks like I am the only one here too! Moved in and then had lunch around 2pm.



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Decided to do a hike, so I drove back to the rangers station and hiked the 1/2 mile Cedar Glad Trail. Felt good getting mud on my boots again. Cold day for TN, around 30 deg, but the sun is out so not too bad, but it is the first time in years I have warn my polypro long underwear top. Needed it in the shady woods too.



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Still had good daylight and felt the 1/2 mile trail only got me warmed up, so I crossed the road and did the 1.6 mile Cedar Forest Trail as well (it is marked 1.9 miles, but I started at the visitors center , not the trail-head parking). I get why it is called Cedars of Lebanon. Nice Cedar forest with a bunch of sink holes and interesting rock formations. Loved the lighting, low sun with long shadows. Did get one shot of icicles on a rock formation inside a sinkhole just to prove how cold it is.



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Now just sitting in the cabin writing this and listening to some light instrumental music and trying to stay unplugged from TV or the Internet.....I needed this!

3/5/19 12:30pm

Last night I read a good portion 99 Days On the Appalachian Trail by Owen Allen from the book Hiking the Appalachian Trail Volume One, listened to some instrumental music and, most importantly, finally started reading the Ouachita Trail Guide to get ready for this summer's adventure. It did say " May - another great month [to hike the trail]..." (p20) which is very encouraging, since that is when I intend to go. Also listed shuttle services (p12), but it suggest checking out http:\\www.FriendsOT.org for an up to date list (and I will since the book was published in 2012). it seemed like midnight when I went to bed, but to my surprise it was a little after 10pm according to my fitbit (thats what getting away to a park gets you.....a reset to natural time not influenced by TV, city lights, ect....)

Got up around 7:30. Ate breakfast and showered. Hit the Hidden Springs Trail at around 9:30. Still very cold (22°F) but had on two layers on my lower body (poly pro long underwear and jeans) and four layers on the upper (poly pro long underwear, AT t shirt, long sleeve Columbia shirt and fleece jacket) finishing off with a fleece cap, neck warmer and fleece gloves, just about right. Was cool part of the time, a bit warm others (depending on shading and wind).

Took the trail counter clockwise. The trail was crunchy....wow never thought I would describe a trail with that word, but it is fitting. The trail was very wet from all the rain we have had recently, but frozen over due to the cold. Any previous boot prints crunched very loudly underfoot, as well as the ice covered puddles and streams. Saw some wierd ice fingernails (they looked like the curled extra long fingernails you have probably see in the Guinness World Record Books)...just weird. Hidden Springs is a deep sinkhole, cant even see the bottom, and there were lots of interesting sinks and crevasses (these had lots of icicles so I spent lots of time trying to get good photos). Also enjoyed the Cedar Glades (clearings caused by areas of limestone too close to the surface for trees to grow...causing the opened areas in the forest.

A bit after Hidden Spring I stopped at a stream with a bridge for a snack. First time I have tried my new JetBoil stove (although I bought it over a year ago this was the first time I got to use it). Boy do I feel stupid not buying one of these for my last A.T. hike, but now I know why everyone (but me) was using one. Cold water to scalding hot in no time flat (including setup)!!!! Will definitely use on this summers hike.



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Got back to the cabin for lunch and relaxing for the rest of the day, although I might get restless and do the Limestone Sink Trail latter on today.....we will see....

3:45pm

As I figured, I read a bit then took a nap. After waking up I cooked ramen noodles for a snack and then decided to do the Limestone Sink Trail. It was a very short 0.4 mile loop and the most interesting parts I saw on my detour from the Hidden Springs Trail this morning (hence pics of the same rock formations and 'the very old, very large and fantastically burled chinkpin oak tree' as the parks trail description put it). Was a bit colder on this hike since I only threw on my jacket and went and there was more of a breeze than this morning but I figured I would not freeze in 32°F on a 0.4 mile hike. When I got back I did take a warm shower and now sitting here writing this.



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Only have two trails left to do and I I hiked thr whole park...and those I will do tomorrow).



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3/6/19 12:25pm

Resisted the urge to watch TV for another day. Read, listen to music, did some more thinking about the O.T. this summer. Ate pizza and drank beer. was a peaceful night.

Woke up and had breakfast and held off hiking until I was about to go stir crazy. Hit the trail around 10am. Parked at the nature center lot and headed in the general direction of the Cedar Run Trail. Checked out the entrance of the Jackson Cave then found the trail (although not the official trail-head). Trail is as described 'large loop routing through open meadows and a cedar forest' and is even marked as a running path. it was about 90% meadow and 10% forest, glad it was a cold morning (25°at start of hike, but sunny). Dressed the same as I did yesterday, never felt cold or sweaty, but I was hiking slow). Never realy got my bearings on the trail....but it was well marked. I think birders would love this area (I even got pretty good shots of a woodpecker) but I prefer more wooded trails.



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Got back to the picnic area and found Hermit Cave (locked) and then onto the Dixon Merrit Trail. Nice little trail...liked the ice on the puddles (looked like lines on a topo map).

Wondered around a bit to find the official trail-head of the Cedar Run Trail....Should have parked right before reaching the Ceder Forest Lodge (coming from the main road near the ranger station), but not a big deal. Also checked out the area behind the nature center.



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Only hiked around 2.5 miles so I decided to do the Limestone Sink Trail again (0.4 miles more). This time I took it slow, took lots of pictures of the gnarled tree and the sink (love how the icicles formed stalactite looking formations). Took the trail in the opposite direction as yesterday (counter clock wise). Sat down at the bench after the skin and cooked ramen with my stove....worked like a champ again, even in the cold weather). Dad and two kids came around while I was eating....I said hello, but they looked at me weird and went onto the sink. Guess they thought I was weird since I was eating lunch so close to the car.



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Now back at the cabin just chill'in thinking about lunch and proud I have hike every hiking trail in the park in one stay.



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6:35pm

Just finished dinner after an afternoon of napping, reading and just chill'in. One thing I will say about this place is the quiet. I really haven't noticed how much sound is bombarding me all the time at home, but here other than the heater kicking on, almost nothing. A bird flew into the vent for the bathroom fan a while back and it sounded like the world was ending....since I got use to the quiet. Also, without TV my body has quickly adjusted to "natures time" instead of TV time (going to bed when late night comes on). I also notice my mind going from not thinking about anything....then in a blink of an eye, it races back to 'real world' things like emails, news, things I need to do for work, ect ect come rushing back.....then I have to push those things aside and remind myself I'm on vacation. It's nice to be alone with your thoughts from time to time.

Might go back to the field behind the nature center in a bit for some star gazing.....another thing I can't do in the city...

8:10pm

Just got back from stargazing. Better than in the city, but only had good views of the south to western sections of the sky due to lights from Lebanon to the north and light clouds. Did positively identify orion (all of him including his sword), Taurus (thanks to the V shaped star formation), Cassiopeia (hard to miss the big w), the big dipper (visible even with the town lights) and Gemini. Also saw Mars. [thanks Google sky] Only stayed maybe 45 min or so because of the cold. Did see the eyes of an animal reflecting my headlamp. Guess a cat, raccoon or possum...moved like a cat, so my guess is a stray.

Final thoughts:

I am glad I came and when. The park was almost empty, other than parking areas I just saw 4 people on trails and only rangers in one of the other cabins, the rest empty. I am sure during the summer it is a madhouse, just the locals using the pool and playground alone, let alone the campers. Love the cabin...nicer than my house. Trails were OK but not very challenging even with me being out of shape. I probably like little Limestone Sink Trail the best, just for the sink and gnarled oak...made for good photographic subjects. Wish it just had more trails!