Blue skies and sand volleyball at Civitan Park in Johnson City (Tony Casey/Johnson City Press)
Summer has begun and it is time to commemorate it with a breath of fresh air. No, not the stale wind filtering through the grate in your living room; some fresh, lung-cleansing, outdoor air.
“We have a variety of outdoors activities available for tourists and local residents, anything from hiking, biking, fishing and boating. There’s just plethora of things to do,” said Brenda Whitson, executive director of the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce. “The natural beauty of the mountains and the temperature are assets that visitors don’t expect until they’ve experienced them.”
June has been designated outdoors month and, throughout summer, the surrounding area is saturated with lush greenery, pleasant weather and many ready-made opportunities for enjoyment.
For the convenience of residents, the Johnson City Press has put together a list of outdoors events and activities available in the region. Many of them are free and all require very little gas consumption.
Winged Deer Park is a good place to start. Not only is the park a center for hiking, biking and recreational sports (including soccer and softball), but it will also be the site of several free lakeside concerts starting July 10. Featured performers will include Ivy Road, Lightnin’ Charlie and the Catfish Frye Band. Concerts will continue through August and will be held at the Goulding Amphitheater.
Winged Deer is not Johnson City’s only viable outdoor getaway. The surrounding area is resplendent with many lush parks.
“Parks are here for people to enjoy. They allow them to experience both the nature and history of this region,” said Marty Silver, a park ranger at Warriors’ Path State Park. “I think parks present many opportunities to hike and camp and fish and canoe and explore and hunt and I think all folks can take advantage of that.”
Warriors’ Path offers a variety of daily activities for its visitors. These range from canoeing and biking to nature lessons and volunteer trail maintenance. A full list of activities can be accessed by joining Warriors’ Path’s free mailing list.
Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park will also host a couple of events this summer, Pioneer Kids Camp June 21 and Crockett Days August 16 and 17. Pioneer Kids Camp will provide campers with the opportunity to make crafts and learn pioneer skills. Events featured on Crockett Days will be similar to the activities taught during Pioneer Kids Camp and are intended to honor the birthday of Davy Crockett.
In addition to an eclectic assortment of events, both Warriors’ Path and Davy Crockett possess beach volleyball courts, fishing, swimming, biking and a vast network of hiking trails.
If hiking is too low-key, residents can take a trip to Cherokee Adventures in Erwin and white water raft down the Upper Nolichucky. The trip drops rafters into a 3,000 foot gorge and features class three and four rapids. The company also provides family trips, class one and two rapids, for children and less experienced rafters.
If people prefer to learn something new, adults and youths age 6-17 can sign up for tennis lessons at Liberty Bell Tennis Center. Both sessions began on June 2, but they will continue for another four weeks. Youth lessons begin at 8 a.m. Monday through Thursday and adult lessons begin at 6 p.m. Monday and Thursday.