Five National Recreation Trails to Visit this Thanksgiving

Check out these five National Recreation Trails that are perfect for celebrating Thanksgiving!

by Taylor Goodrich, Communication and Media Specialist, American Trails

November can be a hectic month, as everyone starts to get ready for the holidays with cooking, shopping, and travel. That’s why it can be more important than ever to find some time to #optoutside.

Harvest Square Recreational Preserve Trail System


This 2.3 mile trail in Harvest, Alabama has added some very important recreational opportunities to its community since opening in 2011. The trail passes by two different ponds which are part of the Tennessee River Watershed. These ponds attract both migratory birds and fish, creating unique wildlife viewing opportunities. Additionally, the area is teaming with other animals, including deer, turkey, raccoon, fox, and beavers. The trail is also surrounded by 30 acres of farm land, showing that “harvest” is more than just a name, it’s a way of life along this trail.

One of the best features of this trail is the Dale W. Strong Community Pavilion for Environmental Education, which serves to bring the community together. Here, during such events as “Tuesdays on the Trail”, environmental education talks are open to the public. Those who attend have opportunities to learn about such things as the importance of protecting ecosystems and how to use American Native Bamboo to make cane poles.

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Turkey Creek Nature Preserve Trail System

Located in Pinson, Alabama, Turkey Creek is both a biologically and historically significant area. Historical accounts record extensive use of the Turkey Creek Falls, located within today’s Nature Preserve site, since the 1870s for gatherings and outdoor recreation. Several prehistoric Native American sites have also been documented.

Three nature trails showcase the unique beauty of Turkey Creek Nature Preserve. The paved 0.38 mile Highland trail provides walkers and bicyclers a moderate climb, through the highland forests of Turkey Creek Nature Preserve. The easy 0.35 mile Boy Scout Trail takes hikers past some of the most scenic reaches along the banks of Turkey Creek. The 1.4 mile Thompson Trace offers some of the best opportunities for wildlife viewing within the Preserve. The TCNP trails feature waterfalls, rope swings, areas for fishing, kayaking, and swimming, and popular for birding and picnicking sites.

The Turkey Creek Nature Preserve holds enormous value as an educational resource. The Turkey Creek Education Center provides environmental and conservation education. Area college students and faculty use the Preserve for research in biology, environmental science, and archaeology.

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photo credit: NatureWorks
Turkey Mountain Entrance; NatureWorks Sculpture

Turkey Mountain Entrance; NatureWorks Sculpture

Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Trails Network

The trails at Turkey Mountain wind through more than 300 acres of wilderness. With canopied trails crisscrossed with roots and rocks, blessed with views of the Arkansas River, and basically untouched by humanity, Turkey Mountain is an urban treasure located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Turkey Mountain offers beginner to advanced trails for the hiker, trail runner, mountain biker and equestrian rider.

When most think of Oklahoma, they think of flat land, few trees, and lots of red dirt. Turkey Mountain has the opposite. Turkey Mountain lies within the Cross Timbers ecoregion. This landform in Oklahoma served as the inspiration for the forests in Washington Irving’s literary work, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” The summit of Turkey Mountain rises 300 feet above the Arkansas River and offers a panoramic view of Tulsa.

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Turkey Creek Nature Trail

The Turkey Creek Nature Trail is located near Horseshoe Bend on the south shore of Cordell Hull Lake east of Lebanon, Tennessee.

On the U.S. Trails website it says that this trail got its name due to the abundance of turkeys that once inhabited the area. “According to legend, when the first settlers arrived here, the flocks of wild turkey “gobblers” flew through out the skies like a storm cloud deafening anyone nearby. Farmers and trappers would step out their back doors with their muzzleloaders, knowing that a turkey dinner would soon be on the table. Soon after, the wild turkey disappeared from the countryside, yet it left its name on the creek that flows by, just as those early settlers left their traces on the land.”

Now, along this 2.8 mile trail run by the Army Corp of Engineers, wild turkey are starting to make a comeback. Wildlife enthusiasts can spot them, alongside other wildlife such as squirrels and deer, while exploring this trail.

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Apple Orchard Falls

photo credit: USDA Forest Service

This 3.5 mile long Virginia trail actually connects to the Appalachian Trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway, and is an excellent hiking trail for members of the whole family, young and old alike. This trail is easy to moderate in most places, but some stretches are difficult.

At 1.4 miles, look back for a beautiful view of a 200-foot high falls. The trail leads into the headwaters of North Creek, following old woods road downstream. Along the trail you will see rhododendron, turtle head, mountain fetterbush, trillium, bleeding heart, and showy orchis, as well as many other plants. North Creek is home to a rare species of aquatic lichen, the waterfan.

Safety First: There are several bridge crossings on these trails; some have several steps at each end. Beware of slippery rocks and stay on the trail. There is a safe viewing area at the falls.

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About the Author

Taylor Goodrich started with American Trails in January 2018 as Communication and Media Specialist. Taylor has worked with the National Recreation Trail (NRT) Ambassadors since the beginning of the program and has helped shape the program to where it is today. Taylor currently lives in Dallas, Texas, which is also where she grew up and where she attended the University of North Texas receiving her degree in History. While in college she started doing freelance work editing and writing, and also got into graphic design and discovered she loves the creativity and craft of digital arts. After college she traveled quite a bit, and lived in both the Pacific Northwest and in New Mexico, and while in both of those places took full advantage of what the outdoors had to offer. After moving back to Texas she started moving towards doing graphic design, social media, and communications work full time, and she has contracted with several companies from tech startups, to music festivals, to law firms, to grow their social media and digital communications presence. Taylor loves hiking and kayaking especially, and is glad to be working with an organization that fights for further accessibility and stewardship of our nation’s trails. She feels very lucky that in this position she will be able to use her professional skills and passion for something she is also very personally passionate about, and in helping to grow American Trails.

Contact: [email protected]

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1,377 views • posted 11/27/2019