The Place: Warriors’ Path State Park
The Hike: Holston Bluff Loop Trail
The fall weather settling in (for the most part) has been fabulous. I was especially happy for it on the Saturday morning ranger-led hike I recently took part in at Warriors’ Path State Park.
Right now, the Holston Bluff Loop Trail is a nice piece of seclusion. Access to it is in the Overflow Campground, which is currently closed off for renovations. HOWEVER, you can park at the park headquarters and walk into the campground. You’ll find the trailhead for the loop on the backside of the loop, nestled right next to a campsite.
Holston Bluff Loop Trail is a very easy hike, clocking in at less than a mile in length. As you leave the campsite, you’re pulled into the forest and soon see a small amphitheater-like area built into a notch in the ground. According to Ranger Marty Silver, a fox will den up with its babies right there.
Believe it or not, this notch is where a railroad was supposed to go through – connecting the South to Chicago. (It never was completed due to the bank funding it going, well, bankrupt.)
Up until you hit the loop portion, you hike the high ground beside the notch. Eventually, if you go toward the left, you go downhill, into the notch. At this point, there’s quite obviously a man made structure. If you didn’t know better, you’d think it was a little house. It’s actually a long culvert, built to drain water from under the tracks and siphon it into the then-river, now-lake.
As you continue down the trail, you come to the park boundary. Be sure to wave if you see the neighbors outside, then head away from them along the lakeshore.
If you pay attention at this point, you may notice there’s pavement underfoot. What? Pavement in the woods? Believe it or not, it’s the old highway to Bristol! When the TVA dammed the river, creating Fort Patrick Henry Lake, the road mostly ended up underwater. However, you can walk a bit in the past… all the way to where it disappears into the lake.
It’s at the end of the road that there is an awesome echo. Be sure to give a shout and listen as the echo comes back at you multiple times!
Be sure to keep an eye out for wildflowers and fungus along the trail. We spotted this one, which I sadly forgot the name of, but is really cool.
This hike is also awesome for views. Along most of it you can see the lake through the trees. When the leaves change, the reflection on the water will be beautiful.