February 2018 – “Come To Big Ridge”

In April, J.L. and I have another wonderful guidebook coming out—DISCOVERING TENNESSEE STATE PARKS. Over the last two years, we visited all fifty-six state parks and had a fabulous time exploring the beauty and diversity of each. Similar to the format of our previous Smoky Mountains hiking guidebook, we give directions to each park and then a description of interesting things to do and see. Throughout the book are hundreds of color photos to show you sights and delights you can see when you visit.

To kick off publication of this new book, as well as my latest novel LOST INHERITANCE, set in Gatlinburg, J.L. and I decided to have our annual Book Launch at Big Ridge State Park. It’s only 30-35 minutes north of Knoxville, very accessible from I-75, and a beautiful park to introduce our fans and friends to the fun we had in our explorations. The launch will be held in what used to be the old Snack Bar (Shelter/Pavillion #4) on a grassy hill just above the main parking lot. It’s a large building with two open sides, lovely views, a rustic fireplace, picnic tables, its own restrooms, and even handicapped accessible parking. Naturally, we’re believing for a gorgeous sunny spring day, but even it sprinkles, we’re well under cover.

The Book Launch will be on Saturday, April 7th, Open House Hours 1:00 – 4:00 pm. As always, we’ll have drinks and snacks—but you can bring something, too, if you’d like. Lots of food and sweets always make an event more fun. We are excited to have our friend Earl Bull and his wonderful bluegrass group Clinch Valley Bluegrass coming to entertain during our launch. The well-known group performs at many festivals and events around the area, and we are so glad they can come to be with us. If you have a couple of lawn chairs—bring those, too, as we have limited seating, and you may want to sit around for a while to enjoy the music and fellowship.

When I was a young girl, Big Ridge was the state park my family visited the most. We often spent the day at the park—had a picnic, swam at the great swim beach, took a paddleboat or canoe ride on the lake, or just enjoyed the day. A favorite part of the visit for me was getting to ride horses around the trails and across the dam or staying overnight in one of the park’s rustic cabins. I also hold happy memories of watching the older teenagers dance in the old snack bar (where our launch will be) to songs on the jukebox and later of dancing there myself. On the hill above the snack bar, mother’s extended family often gathered for family reunions—and with mother one of twelve children, we always had a crowd.

After stopping by our Book Launch, you can enjoy exploring the park. There are many hiking and bike trails and scenic spots to see. In early April the landscape will be lush and green with the beginning of Spring and you’ll find wildflowers scattered all around the park. An interesting place you should visit is the old Norton Gristmill, built in 1825, on a finger of the lake. Down the road from the mill you’ll find a group camp to explore and the beginning of a scenic trail along the lakeside, The Lake Trail, one of our favorites in the park.

We hope you’ll come and join us for a day at Big Ridge if you can. You will find a map to the park and more info on the state website [tnstateparks.com/parks/about/big-ridge] plus directions below. If you are unable to make this event, we have many other signing events around the Tennessee area to follow as part of our 3-Month—April, May, and June—Book Tour with more events, festivals, and speaking engagements ongoing all through the year as well. Remember that our events are always listed month by month under Appearances on my website at: www.linstepp.com … See you in April!

Directions: From I-75 north of Knoxville, take Exit #122, turning east on Hwy 61. Pass the Appalachian Museum and continue 10 miles to Big Ridge. Turn left into park; pass visitor center on left; continue straight to parking area at road’s end and Snack Bar (Pavillion #4) on the hillside.