In Kodak, Tennessee right off exit 402 is Seven Islands State Birding Park, a 416-acre birdwatcher’s paradise where over 200 different bird species have been spotted. The park offers around eight miles of hiking trails and hosts sporadic educational events.
Dogs on leads are welcome, bikes are permitted on some trails, and the park has plans to become more accessible for disabled individuals in the near future.
In lieu of a more appropriate theme song for this entry, I chose my favourite song by FUTURE Islands, which made a great soundtrack for exploring this eco-collage of mountains, meadows, river shores, and woods.
Follow the signs down Midway Road that lead you to the park. At the end of the main road, you will see this handy entrance sign.
Stay right to enter the parking lot near the Bluebird Barn. This is the only area of the park that was crowded, presumably because the majority of the visitors stay on the first few meters of the trail or bike along the river.
A left turn takes you down to the boat/kayak ramp and a lowland parking area.
I do things backwards, often by preference. We started the trail near the boat ramp and walked all around the property, ending up at the Bluebird Barn where the main trails start.
The Seclusion Bend Trail (shown in pink) is 2.67 miles / 4.3 km and curves widely along the French Broad River.
We followed this trail until we reached the old Maple Barn, then switched to the Kelly Greenway (shown in orange), which is 1.23 miles / 1.98 km and leads past the Kelly Farm and back up to the Bluebird barn.
It was really hot. Really, really, really hot.
My brother and I stopped to take a selfie, then quickly realised we were standing less than two feet from a snake den. Very small snakes, but thrilling yet.
The trails are framed by beautiful fields of mixed wildflowers. Along the Kelly Greenway, on a hill in the birdwatch clearing, there is an empty old house which seems to have literally gone to the birds. The walls have numerous holes full of bird nests. Beware the ceiling caving in inside some areas, and there are many angry wasps flying around.
We also narrowly escaped a wild deer charging down the hill toward us. Well, maybe it didn’t even see us. I run into stuff all the time. 10/10 would go back.
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