Hey, peeps, Ella here. It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you on my adventures—that’s no fault of my own, but rather because Mom and Dad have left me at home while gallivanting around the world (*pouts*). But I put my paw down and said, “no longer! You will take me out to explore Tennessee’s state parks this summer.” And so they did—because I have that kind of authority in this household, you see.
First, we hit up Burgess Falls last month as part of Nature Valley’s Summer of a Million Miles Challenge to check out the gusher of a waterfall, the biggest I’ve seen in my eight years roaming this Earth and I’d venture to say one of the most spectacular on this continent. This past week, we packed up the boards and went to an entirely different kind of state park: one located on a lake, my favorite kind of place if we’re being honest.
Neither Mom nor Dad had been to Edgar Evins State Park, so this was a first for all of us, humans and canine alike. The 6,000-acre park is situated lake side just an hour east of Nashville with a marina, 11 miles of hiking trails, and plenty of cabins and campgrounds if you want to stay over.
We just went for the day, however, as we’re lucky enough to live so close to Edgar Evins, as well as numerous other Tennessee state parks.
Our day started out quite ominously with a few stops around the lake for quick hikes as angry clouds clustered on the horizon, but we persevered and were not only gifted with sunshine everywhere we went, but also a blissfully empty Center Hill Lake. In fact, besides one yummy flavored fishing boat that was pulling out as we pulled in, we were the only people out on it!
Though I’m no breed of water dog because too much H2O jacks up my adrenaline levels, I love my time standup paddleboarding—especially as Mom does all the hard work while I navigate the open waters like the capitano that I am. It’s a pretty fair compromise if I do say so myself and #savesthesquirrels from being all mangled up in my radius if I take a full dip.
Last summer, Dad bought his own SUP, so when we’re all three out on the lake together, I like to hop back and forth between the boards, you know, so as to
keep them in check not play favorites.
A few things not to forget when you’re taking your pup along for a family day trip in your own state or national park:
- Your board and paddles (it sounds obvious but on our last SUP trip, Mom and Dad actually left the paddles at home! *face palm*)
- A life jacket for your fur pal and a life jacket for you
- A separate leash and harness for your pup should you also decide to take in the hiking trails
- Nature Valley granola bars, which are easy to eat during your paddling breaks
- A bowl and plenty of water
After we were done paddling, Mom had to show off a bit on her board before we packed up to leave. We get it, we get it, you have a flat head—let’s continue with our hiking already!
And so we did. We headed through Edgar Evins up along the north edge of the lake and did a little hiking along the eastern border, drove down to the Appalachian Center for Craft, through the town of Smithville and eventually ended our excursion with lunch at Short Mountain Distillery.
A state park, a lake, a quaint town square and a distillery/restaurant all in one half-day, are you even kidding me? It’s basically my dream outing.
We’ll be squeezing in a few more hikes at the state parks by our house the remainder of the month as part of Nature Valley’s Summer of a Million Miles Challenge, which goes through Aug. 31. Nature Valley had pledged a sizable donation once one million miles were logged by adventurous souls, but because of all the recent fires made the decision to immediately commit the $250,000 donation to the National Park Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund, which will allow the NPF to distribute funds as needed right away to parks affected by disasters like wildfires. I’m all about that! Where would all the flying squirrels live without our public lands?
If you want to join us in the Summer of a Million Miles Challenge, download the free MapMyHike app and start logging yours, too. The outdoors, fitness, Mother Nature and doing good all rolled into one is totally my kind of challenge. And don’t forget, you can still unlock some sweet prizes through logging your hikes. (I’m determined to win, though, because I’m competitive like that.)
Where will you go on your next state park adventure with your pup? And do you need me to tag along as your guide? I may be born a city dog, but I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I must have been a park ranger in a past life.
This post is sponsored by Nature Valley. All opinions are mine and those of my parents. Qualifying Hikes can earn entry into the sweepstakes for a chance to win various prizes. Must be U.S. resident 18+ to enter. No purchase necessary to enter. Ends 8/31/18. Must be 18. Find out more info at www.naturevalley.com/