Fall seemed to take forever to get here to Tennessee! Family back in Utah kept posting their beautiful pictures of the colored leaves in the mountains and it was making me so jealous. The days have been warm and the leaves have stayed put in the green colors. But now, it is my turn to make them jealous with pictures of fall in the rolling hills of Tennessee while they are getting snow. Finally, the colors have appeared and the days started getting cooler. And there is no better way to celebrate the late arrival of my favorite season then by spending time at a state park happily bundled up and taking an exuberant amount of pictures.
And so off we went to Old Stone Fort State Park. This park is actually considered a state archeology park because of the great amount of research that has been done here on the people that lived here over 1,000 year ago. This area has a naturally created border of raised mounds that surround the middle valley area. This hillside enclosure is believed to be a site used for ceremonial purposes by the native peoples living here. Archeologists have found the remains of houses, jewelry, and personal articles nearby what they believe to be the site of these ceremonies.
This area proved to be an ideal location as it was right by a river and provided ample resources in game hunting and rich agriculture. Later on with the arrival of the first settlers to the area they too would recognize the ideal location of this hillside and build a fort and a grain mill there next to the river. Today visitors can walk up and stand on the base of the old fort as they look out towards the river. This old fort is at the opening of the park and is home to the visitor center that has been built next to the bottom of it.
From the visitor center we walked down the trail following the river. The trail follows the mounds of the enclosure and makes a great loop around the park with some smaller trails that cross through the middle. We came across the dam that installed in the early 1900s that was used to regulate how much water went down this river and divide it to the smaller rivers around.
We followed the trail until we came to the remains of what use to be the grain mill (though without the help of the sign you would never know that is what it was) with younger trees growing up in the middle of it. The crumbling rocks of the mill and the bright colors of the leaves gave the whole place a very poetic loveliness that was perfect for this cool fall day.
Further down the trail we stopped to go out onto the rocks in the river and put our hands down in the cold water. The hills of trees and the rocky waters really seem to be the best of the natural beauty of this state.
With that we ended up back at the old remains of the fort where we gave one last look out over the river. This state park is the closest to our house, and yet it was the first time we had visited it. But I think it safe to say that it may become our new favorite place to take a walk.
If you have enjoyed reading on Old Stone Fort State Park, you may want to check out these other Tennessee parks in their fall finery:
Thanks for coming along as we continue to check out all the state parks in Tennessee. Of the 54 state parks, we’ve now seen 26 of them in the year and a half that we have lived here. Now onto seeing the rest of them!