New Year, New Trails

Sunset at Joshua Tree National Park, 30 minutes from Palm Springs in CA.

Do you plan to blaze a new trail in 2020? You might want to consider trekking these trails around the country.

Joshua Tree National Park (CA) – Check out the trees the park is named for while hiking the more than 65 moderate trails in this rugged terrain.  The Joshua Tree is characterized by its twisty, bristly limbs and these distinctive trees are just part of the scenery to be seen here. The Arch Rock Trail hike brings you to the namesake of the trail, Arch Rock, which runs 30 feet wide. Get up close and personal (well, maybe not too close or too personal) with the Park’s Cholla Cactus on the relatively easy Cholla Cactus Garden trail.

Reserve a stay in a cottage at Palm Springs in Palm Desert to hike Joshua Tree National Park.

Lake Kissimmee State Park (FL) – Live oak hammocks provide the perfect cover as you explore the two loop trails in this Florida hiking destination. The Buster Island Trail takes roughly 3 ½ hours to walk this 6.9-mile loop on an island that is surrounded by three lakes. The North Loop Trail is another option that includes Gobbler Ridge, a spur trail that leads to the edge of Lake Kissimmee.

Rest your head in a colorful cottage at Tropical Palms in Kissimmee to hike Lake Kissimmee State Park.

Prospect Mountain (NY) – Imagine 100 miles views of the Adirondacks! This somewhat difficult hike (not suggested for youngsters) is one of the

more popular hikes in the region thanks to the rewarding scenery. The goal is the summit at 2,030 feet, where hikers can experience those magnificent views but also see the remains of the Prospect Mountain Cable Incline Railway. The trailhead begins in the town of Lake George.

Cozy up in a cabin at Lake George Escape to tackle Prospect Mountain.

Fall Hollow Falls (TN) – The waterfalls are the draw on this trail, not to mention the creeks and wooden bridges. Cross over the two bridges and you’ll find yourself at the observation deck for the falls. The trail to the observation deck is less than a quarter mile. The trailhead for this hike is just off the historic Natchez Trace Parkway.

Natchez Trace
Choose your favorite themed cabin at Natchez Trace to trek Fall Hollow Falls.

Give me a T for Texas, and for Tennessee!

Natchez Trace • Hohenwald, TN
Natchez Trace • Hohenwald, TN

The only states that start with T in the list of fifty, nifty United States, both Tennessee and Texas have a variety of reasons to visit them. Tennessee comes first in terms of being admitted to the Union, which happened on June 1, 1796, making it the 16th state (it was also the last state to leave the Union during the Civil War, as well as the first state readmitted toward the end of the war). Texas was the 28th state admitted in 1845, however, Texas comes first in size. As the second biggest state, Texas measures in at a whopping 268,581 square miles while Tennessee comes in 34th at 41,220 square miles (Texas can fit about six Tennessees in it!). But, when it comes to things to do and see, they are pretty equal!

Music: In terms of music destinations, Texas has Austin while Tennessee can boast both Nashville and Memphis. Nashville has the Ryman Auditorium, which was the original home of the Grand Ole Opry, a space that helped launch many music careers including Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Loretta Lynn.  There is also the new location of the Grand Ole Opry at Opryland, which is just a few miles outside the city. The city is also home to countless honky tonks where singer-songwriters play in hopes of achieving their dreams. The District is where you can listen to music to your heart’s content with its lively nightlife scene.

Lake Whitney • Whitney, TX
Lake Whitney • Whitney, TX

 Memphis is home to Beale Street, a major tourist attraction that has been designated as a national historic landmark and is lined with blues clubs and BBQ joints. Memphis is also where Elvis got his break at Sun Studio, which is still standing and offers tours of the place where he was first recorded. Of course, there is also Graceland, Elvis’ mansion, another major tourist attraction chock full of Elvis paraphernalia. Austin, Texas, is known for its two major annual music festivals: South by Southwest, held in March, and Austin City Limits, held in October. The city also has a vibrant music any day of the week. There are more than 250 live music venues offering everything from classical and jazz to rock, blues, and country.

Lake Conroe • Willis, TX
Lake Conroe • Willis, TX

History Both states are rich in history – Texas history can be traced back to the early 1500s with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors while British traders came upon a Cherokee town called “Tanasi” in the early 1700s. In terms of famous battles, Texas has the Alamo while Tennessee has the infamous Civil War event, the Battle of Shiloh. Visitors can see the site of the Alamo which is located in the heart of San Antonio. The 300-year-old Spanish Mission is open to the public and battlefield tours are available. Shiloh National Military Park, operated by the National Park Service, can be toured through both ranger-guided and self-guided options. It is considered one of the best preserved and most pristine of the Civil War Battlefields. Dallas has the unfortunate history of being the city where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Visitors can tour The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza which chronicles the events of that fateful day in November through exhibits and historic displays.

 Must-Sees Don’t miss the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas Hill Country, and Big Bend National Park in Texas. In Tennessee, must-sees include the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, and Nashville’s Centennial Park with its replica of the original Parthenon in Greece. (Petite Retreats can be found at Bay Landing in Bridgeport, Texas, which is outside of Dallas, and Natchez Trace in Hohenwald, Tennessee, which is an hour and a half outside of Nashville and three hours outside of Memphis. Colorado River and Medina Lake are near Austin and San Antonio.)

Medina Lake • Lakehills, TX
Medina Lake • Lakehills, TX