(Note to readers: I was compensated for sharing the word about this campaign. As always, my opinion remains my own. #tmom #ad #ForestFriday)
The Appalachian Mountains are home to majestic forests, mountain lakes and streams, and legends and folklore dating back to the ancient civilizations of Native Americans. They are also MY home.
As the great-great-granddaughter of a full-blooded Native American of the Cherokee Nation, I am naturally drawn to these forests, and find myself longing to explore their mystery and fairytale-like beauty deeper and further. Thankfully, I live in an area that allows my family and me to do just that.
The Smoky Mountains, Appalachian Trail, and Cherokee National Forest literally make up my backyard. As children, our parents took my sister, brother, and me on many camping trips and hikes, sharing the importance of our cultural heritage, while simultaneously instilling a great love of the outdoors and respect for nature. My husband and I are now trying to do the same with our own two young boys. We’re finding it can be a challenge is this age of electronics and online distractions designed to keep our children occupied. We have to plan to make nature a “natural” go-to activity!
The best way to experience and learn about nature and its inhabitants, and to pass along this love and respect for the Great Outdoors, is to actually GET OUT IN IT! And thanks to a fun and educational website, http://www.discovertheforest.org/ , you can easily do that.
DiscoverTheForest.org features an interactive map tool that enables users to search for nearby forests and parks, and filter by zip code and desired activities. Free outdoor activities are also available for download and printing, which you can take the next time you visit.
By using the online tool on the website to find local parks and forests, I was able to pull up countless opportunities to use to plan daytrips for my family. Many of these locations are tried and true for our bunch, but many I’d forgotten, or have yet to try.
I want to encourage you to use this guide this summer as you plan your activities. Get the kids (and the adults!) to put down the electronics and get off the grid to explore God’s creation! Our forests and parks are a treasure, and all we need to get the most out of this excursion is our own imagination (and maybe some bug repellant!).