Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Warriors Path State Park; Why we camped elsewhere

It was a beautiful sunny day when my fammily headed to Warriors Path State Park in Tennessee. The reviews were intriguing, it has a campground and we had vacation time. That sounded like a winning combination. So, we loaded up the camper and took the road trip to Warriors Path State Park.

The park was easy to find from Knoxville. We took I-40 to I-81 to at exit 59. Then we took Route 36 (N) and followed the signs through Kingsport. My family arrived at the park a short while later.

Warriors Path State Park
Warriors Path State Park
The first thing we did was drive around Warrior Path State Park to get a feel for the place. Although it is on a lake shore, it is more commercialized than most Tennessee state parks and wasn't what we wanted.

What we hoped to find was a quiet place where we could connect with nature. Our plans were to hike, birdwatch and camp. Warriors Path is a Tennessee park with a a lot going for it. However; it was abuzz with activity and was fairly crowded. 

Warriors Path State Park is the first state park in the country to build a Darrell's Dream Boundless Playground. All children can play here regardless of what the physical challenges might be. The playground was packed even though we were there on a Thursday afternoon in mid-May.

Warriors Path Visitor Center
Camping is what we were interested in the most at Warriors Path State Park. They have 134 campsites in all. Each one has a grill and picnic table.Water and electric hook-ups are available on 94 sites. Tent campers may be unhappy.
The 40 overflow sites seem the most tent friendly. They are also farther away from the bathrooms, dumpsters and park attractions. Tent campers may want to move your cars to get closer to the action.

The bathhouses are clean and have hot showers. It is right on the lake so there was noise from motorboats. I was warned about a train whistle but didn't hear one during the couple hours that we were there.

Lake at Warrior's Path State Park
Golfers will enjoy being here. An 18-hole golf course isn't just a park highlight but it's one of the most popular in the area. The par 72 course is Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary and also a Groundwater Guardian Green Site.

Warriors Path State Park has 12 miles of hiking trails. None of them carry the strenuous label but this could change. We were told at the visitor center that more trails are being planned.

A paved walking path goes around what they call Duck Island. It is accessible but you do need to watch for the bicyclists that also use the trail. The path is pet friendly and is also used by joggers.

Darrel's Dream boundless playground
Speaking of bicycles... We had to be on guard for children on the roadway and in the parking lot. The kids were were having fun but were not watching for cars.

Swimmers will probably enjoy the seasonal Olympic sized swimming pool with a life guard. My family was there in advance of the pool opening. The Warriors Path park ranger said that campers get a half-price discount on the pool fee. However, he didn't say what the price is and I forgot to ask.
The picnic area has tables and grills by the lake shore. Concession stands and restrooms are nearby. Picnic tables are also next to the boundless playground. We saw several people bicycling along the park roads.

Several other activities include:
Fishing (Tennessee permit required.)
Boating - You can rent paddle boats and canoes from what looked like a concessionaire. The two public 
ramps also have a concession stand/snack bar
Horseback riding (Horses may be rented from the stables or you may bring your own.)
Nature programs
And more...

Concession stands and open spaces provide relatively little shade. Warrior's Path State Park strikes me as someplace where we could happily spend a day but not a week. Here's why we decided to stay at Roan Mountain State Park instead.

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