Announcing Spring 2014 G.O. Hikes!

What's that ahead? GIrls Outside Spring Hikes, hooray!

What’s that ahead? GIrls Outside Spring Hikes, hooray!

Now announcing two G.O. hikes to get your favorite girl outside this spring! Both hikes coming up are for elementary-aged girls, one for girls in grades 1-3 and one for girls in grades 4-6! Both are offered in collaboration with Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians, though you do not need to be a Girl Scout to join in.

April 26, 2014: Ijams Hike for Girls in Grades 1-3

There’s no better place in Knoxville to enjoy spring than the trails at Ijams Nature Center! Look for spring wildflowers, enjoy the river boardwalk, look for caves and interesting geologic features. This hike will be no more than 2 miles round trip, and will last from 2-4 pm. Hike leader for this one is Miriam Davis. Here’s a link to a handy flyer: flyer_april26
Registration is now closed.

May 17, 2014: Hastie Natural Area Hike for Girls in Grades 4-6

Look for late spring wildflowers, sinkholes, bridges and ponds on our hike through William Hastie Natural Area, a little-known and hidden South Knoxville gem – part of Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness! This hike will be no more than 3 miles round trip, and will last from 1-4 pm. Sign up by clicking here! Deadline to sign up is May 14. Hike leader for this one is Kelly Sturner. Here’s a handy flyer: flyer_may17

Every G.O. hike has at least 4 women volunteer chaperones, eager to share their passion for the outdoors with the next generation!

Please remember that each hiker must have a completed Health History Record on file. Your child’s immunization record is required as part of the form, and this can be obtained from your pediatrician. You can scan and email the form to knoxgirlsoutside@gmail.com before the hike or bring the completed form on the day of the hike. This form will be kept on file for future hikes, so you only have to fill it out once.

Each hike begins with a fun get-to-know-you game and a brief lesson, from Leave No Trace principles to fun historical facts about the trail and everything in between. Wear weather-appropriate clothing and bring water and light snacks.

While the mission of Girls Outside is to enjoy nature, we also hope these outings foster independence and so we encourage parents to let their girls do the hike on their own as a part of the group. Remember to leave electronic devices at home to better enjoy time in nature.

These hikes are free! Help us spread the word or invite a friend’s child by sharing our girlsoutside.org link. To see the fun we have on our hikes, visit our photo gallery on Facebook.

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Spectacular winter panoramas: River Bluff and High Ground Park

Twelve girls summit the overlook in the River Bluff Wilderness Area.

We had great weather for our February hike this year, with temperatures in the 60s and two new hiking areas to explore, both with great views of the city. Twelve girls, grades 4-6, and five Girls Outside Guides, including four new volunteers, explored two new park areas: The River Bluff area of the Urban Wilderness and the High Ground Park.  Along the way we saw many turtles in the ponds, watched a red-tailed hawk soaring high above, and peeked into a cave perched above the riverside trail.

Snack break at the pond

Snack break at the pond

After learning the principles of “Leave No Trace” the girls were eager to pick up the trash they saw along the trail. Dubbing themselves “the Garbage Girls”, they filled three garbage bags full of litter!

A highlight of the day was hiking to the summit of the bluff, overlooking the University of Tennessee campus and cheering along with the in-progress baseball game. After hiking back to the parking area, we crossed Cherokee Trail to compare the rustic wilderness of the River Bluff to the newly landscaped High Ground Park, built to preserve Fort Higley, the Civil War site. We enjoyed the manicured path and the signs along the way, as well as the additional views of Knoxville from the top.

High Ground Park

High Ground Park

More photos from our hike can be found in our Facebook album!

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Come explore South Knoxville’s River Bluff Wilderness

In partnership with the Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians, our first hike of 2014 will be on Sunday, February 23 from 1-4 pm, so mark your calendars! This hike will be for girls in grades 4-6 in the River Bluff section of the Urban Wilderness Battlefield Loop. This wilderness area features two small ponds, caves and a beautiful view of Knoxville from the top of Armstrong’s hill.

This hike begins at 1 p.m sharp in  the gravel parking area across from the blue water tower off of Cherokee Trail in South Knoxville. To get there exit Alcoa Highway at UT Hospital, continue approx 1.3 miles on Cherokee Trail until the destination which will be on your left. Since this park has not yet officially opened there is no official address.

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The hike will finish at the same spot at 4 p.m. The hike will be no longer than 3 miles.

Your guides for this hike are Trena Paulus (lead), Miriam Davis, Catherine Crawley and Kelly Sturner.

REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED.

Please remember that each hiker must have a completed Health History Record on file. Your child’s immunization record is required as part of the form, and this can be obtained from your pediatrician. You can scan and email the form to knoxgirlsoutside@gmail.com before the hike or bring the completed form on the day of the hike. This form will be kept on file for future hikes, so you only have to fill it out once.

Each hike begins with a fun get-t0-know-you game and a brief lesson, from Leave No Trace principles to fun historical facts about the trail and everything in between. Wear weather-appropriate clothing and bring water and light snacks.

While the mission of Girls Outside is to enjoy nature, we also hope these outings foster independence and so we encourage parents to let their girls do the hike on their own as a part of the group. Remember to leave electronic devices at home to better enjoy time in nature.

This hike is free! Help us spread the word or invite a friend’s child by sharing our girlsoutside.org link. Here’s a handy flyer for posting! To see the fun we have on our hikes, visit our photo gallery on Facebook.

Watch for more hikes in spring 2014! Are you a Girl Scout Troop leader interested in partnering with Girls Outside? Let us know! And don’t forget to come to our Volunteer Recruitment Fair on February 2!

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Exciting news for 2014

Happy New Year from Girls Outside!

We are pleased to announce our new partnership with the Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians effective in 2014. This partnership will provide us with the resources necessary to help us reach even more girls in the greater Knoxville area.

This partnership means that each of our hikes will be lead by an official Girl Scout Volunteer (including Catherine, Kelly, Miriam and Trena whom you may know from previous hikes) as well as additional adult guides. If you are interested in volunteering as an Adult Guide, consider attending our Recruitment Fair on February 2 to learn how.

In addition to our usual hikes, which will remain free and open to any interested girls, we would also like to partner directly with Girl Scout troops who would like assistance organizing day hikes. Please contact us at knoxgirlsoutside@gmail.com if you are a troop leader and/or would like more information.

One important way that this new partnership will impact you is that each hiker must have a completed Health History Record on file before they can hike with us. Your child’s immunization record is required as part of the form, and this can be obtained from your pediatrician. You can scan and email the form to knoxgirlsoutside@gmail.com before the hike or bring the completed form on the day of the hike. This form will be kept on file for future hikes, so you only have to fill it out once.

We look forward to hiking with you in 2014 – starting with our first hike for girls in grades 1-4 on Sunday, February 23 from 1-4 pm. Watch our Facebook page and this website for more details coming soon!

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Volunteers Needed!

Help us switch girls onto nature!

Help us switch girls onto nature!

Come to our Recruitment Fair from 2-4 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 2, at IJAMS to find out more about Girls Outside and how you can help get girls outside.

Girls Outside is committed to helping young girls get outside — to learn about their environment and to engage responsibly in activities that encourage independence and promote physical, emotional and social well-being.  Through programs that emphasize unplugging and having fun in nature with peers and women role models, G.O. hopes young girls will come to love the outdoors as much as we do!

We are in need of more adult women volunteers to help lead hikes. All you need is an enthusiasm for the outdoors and to be able to commit to spending one 2-3 hour afternoon hiking with us in the spring or fall to keep girls outside.

The Girls Outside ratio of girl hikers to adult women guides is 1:4. Hikes are usually two to three hours, no more than three miles, and within Knoxville, usually the Urban Wilderness. Our photo gallery on Facebook really captures best the joy and camaraderie of our hikes.

At our Feb. 2 Recruitment Fair, come learn more about Girls Outside, our mission and goals, and meet other outdoor enthusiasts. We will have a short orientation and then enjoy an easy hike at IJAMS. We will also have some awesome door prizes to give away!

Join us! Please email knoxgirlsoutside@gmail.com to RSVP. And here’s a handy flyer — help us out by distributing it wide and far.

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Inside Nature’s Paintbox: An Autumn Urban Wilderness Hike

Ready to hit the trail! Girls Outside 4-6th graders at the Anderson School trailhead for the Knoxville Urban Wilderness.

Ready to hit the trail! Girls Outside 4-6th graders at the Anderson School trailhead for the Knoxville Urban Wilderness.

A simple question: “What color is that tree?” But this time of year, there’s extra room for creativity in your answer. Our Girls Outside hikers this past weekend decided the tree in question could be described as red, orange, pink, or peachy pink, reflecting the great variety of colors some of the trees were beginning to turn in South Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. Eight girls, grades 4-6, and 3 Girls Outside Guides trekked from Anderson School to the Chain Ring by way of the Lost Chromosome Trail, a southern portion of the Urban Wilderness Trail. Along the way they used their senses: listening for birds and the wind in the trees, smelling the fragrant inner core of cedar hiking sticks, and touching the leaves of a sensitive partridge pea and watching them curl. They also searched for late autumn wildflowers such as the abundant white and purple asters, the more rare pink and red hearts-a-bustin’ and a few late faded goldenrod.

The girls also met local South Knoxvillian Karen Fletcher on the trail, who shared with the girls about what the Chain Ring area was like when her family owned it, before the Urban Wilderness, when it was used for cattle grazing. Karen also told the girls the story of the James White Parkway extension, a plan to build a road through the beautiful section of the trail the girls were hiking, which was recently cancelled due to public outcry. One of the girls on the hike shared that she had written a letter to TDOT asking them not to build the road.

Many of the girls told us at the end that a hike highlight was a short side-trip we made off the trail into a cedar glade. There the girls found a large surface of exposed and crumbly limestone. The girls discovered fossils, interesting rocks, and “arrowheads”. Since the girls had learned the principles of “Leave No Trace” to take only pictures and leave only footprints, after taking pictures with their finds and making memories, they all carefully returned their special rocks so that the next hikers might find and enjoy them too.

More photos from our hike can be found in our Facebook album!

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Finding Magic at the Key Hole

Girls let their imaginations take flight at the Key Hole.

Girls let their imaginations take flight at the Key Hole.

Hiking at Ross Marble Quarry Area is akin to walking through a fairytale. When you arrive at the Key Hole, you are sure to believe the place holds magical secrets of a time long ago.

Twelve young hikers discovered the magic of the Key Hole on Saturday at the fall Girls Outside hike for first, second, and third graders. Three women hikers guided their journey.

The day was warm, and plenty of water was needed to replenish thirsty hikers. The girls enjoyed spotting caterpillars, butterflies, and the changing of the colors on the trees along Imery’s Trail at Ijam’s Ross Marble Quarry natural area.

Valuable lessons on “leave no trace” were shared to help the girls grow to become responsible stewards of the environment who know the importance of having minimal impact on the natural area.

We also found the “pink East Tennessee marble” and talked about how the limestone was used in building many prominent national buildings and monuments, leading Knoxville to once be known as “Marble City.”

To view more photos from Saturday’s hike, visit our photo gallery on Facebook.

The next Girls Outside is planned for October 26 for girls in Grades 4-6 on part of Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness South Loop near Anderson School. The hike begins at 1 p.m. sharp (note earlier start time) and goes to 4 p.m. The hike features a creek, woods, changing leaves and possibly even some fall wildflowers. Exact hike meeting spot will be shared closer to the hike date. This will be an easy to moderate hike, which we will take at a slow pace, and is approximately 2-3 miles. To join this hike, register online by Oct. 23. Guides for this hike are Kelly Sturner (lead), Trena Paulus and Catherine Crawley.

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