Trip Report: Girls Outside Beats the Heat at Ijams’ Mead’s Quarry

Girls pose at the entrance to Ross Marble Area

Girls pose at the entrance to Ross Marble Area

A hot and steamy September afternoon couldn’t keep our intrepid group of six 4-6th grade girls and four Girls Outside guides trapped indoors! Ijams’ Mead’s Quarry provided the perfect retreat. After a little getting to know you and some Leave No Trace charades, the girls began by experimenting with brand new binoculars and guide books generously donated by the Tennessee Ornithological Society. Then, time to hit the trail — here’s the highlights!

We hiked out to the Ross Marble Area and found the Rock Bridge and Key Hole first. Several of the girls were familiar with the spot and showed off first-hand knowledge of the best places to scramble over the rocks. We all paused for a while to hang out over the natural “air conditioning unit” provided by cool air flowing out of a spring-fed cave. Also tried in vain for find a calling catbird mewing from thick brush.

Then, onward to another enchanting spot — Hayworth Hollow — which provided lots of neat areas to explore as well as cool respite in a shady ravine. A mud wallows at the trail end proved to be too tempting — many of the girls crept out to sink their shoes into the cool mud, a few up to their ankles. One girl proclaimed that mud is “good for the skin.” The adult guides decided to take her word for it.

So, what are you to do when your shoes are covered in mud? Well, go wading of course. The trip ended with a trek back to the lake in Mead’s Quarry, where girls waded up to their knees at the boat ramp, some choosing to just sit or lie down in the shallow water. The water in this spring-fed lake is so clean that freshwater jellyfish make their home there. Unfortunately we didn’t spot any. One girl caught a minnow by making her cupped hands into a tiny fishbowl.

Amazing to think that this area was once a bustling quarry, then later a neglected dumping ground. With great regard for all the folks who helped clean up and restore the area to the recreation spot it is today — it’s now an amazing spot for a group of young adventurers to spend an afternoon!

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Girls Outside Awarded Grant to Introduce Girls to Bird Watching!

Our Girls Outside girls love looking for birds, and they will soon get more chances to see them up close!

Our Girls Outside girls love looking for birds, and they will soon get more chances to see them up close!

Observing birds has always been a highlight on Girls Outside hikes — we encounter them every time we hit the trail, and they always invite us to pause to observe their antics and listen to their songs and calls. But now, thanks to a generous grant from the Tennessee Ornithological Society’s Conservation and Research Fund Committee (CRFC), G.O. can take this to the next level! The Tennessee Ornithological Society (TOS) has donated $500 to Girls Outside to support an “Introducing Girls to Bird Watching” program. The funds will support the purchase of 4 sets of Kingbird 6.5 x 32 binoculars, and with a matching donation program through Eagle Optics, G.O. will receive a total of 8 pairs for our hikers to view birds. Leftover funds will be used to buy field guides for girls to share. Binoculars are already on order and expected to arrive in just a few days. They will make their debut at our Sept 6 hike for grades 4-6 (Don’t forget to register!). Interested girls will now learn how to use binoculars and be invited to learn more about birds on many of our hikes. Plans are in the works for a special bird-watching event for girls coming soon.

If you know of a young girl in elementary grades who might enjoy being introduced to bird watching, please spread the word and stay tuned! Thank you, members of TOS, for your generous support! We look forward to sharing our girls’ adventures in bird watching with you as they learn about this healthy and rewarding outdoor hobby.

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September 6: South Loop Fall Hiking Adventure for Grades 4-6!

Find this spot and more on our Sept 6 hike at Ijams' Meads Quarry!

Find this scenic spot and more on our Sept 6 hike at Ijams’ Meads Quarry!

Time to sign up your girl for our first hike of the fall season — Ijams Meads Quarry for girls in grades 4-6! This hike is offered in collaboration with Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians, though you do not need to be a Girl Scout to join us.

This hike will cover part of the South Loop in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. For this approximately 4-mile hike, we will begin at Mead’s Quarry, which is part of Ijams Nature Center, and wander past gated caves and uniquely carved marble shelves. The trails also features a mix of hardwood forests, old fields, switchbacks, and easy hills to climb. The hike will last from 1-4 pm. Hike leader is Kelly Sturner. Here’s a link to a pdf flyer: flyer_sept6

Registration is now closed.

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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Brownie Troop 20101 Prepared to GO Hiking!

Brownie Troop 20101 poses with Girls Outside Guides Kelly Sturner (green shirt, left) and Amiee Smith (green shirt, right). showing off the hiking backpack they packed together!

Brownie Troop 20101 poses with Girls Outside Guides Kelly Sturner (green shirt, left) and Amiee Smith (green shirt, right), showing off the hiking backpack they packed together!

Girls Outside doesn’t just lead hikes, we can also help you get your troop or group prepared to get outside! This week Brownie Troop 20101 from Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians invited Girls Outside to come talk about hiking at their meeting. The girls are working on their Hiker Badge and plan to go on a hike together next month with their leaders!

The girls shared about what they were most looking forward to about their upcoming hike and played a game to learn about Leave No Trace outdoor ethics. Then, they picked out items to pack in a hiking backpack (first aid kit? healthy snacks? water? layers?) and what to leave behind (a bottle of soda pop? chips? a tablet computer?). The girls were a bit undecided about whether it was ok to bring a stuffed animal friend, some thought the added weight was not worth it, while others thought it might not hurt.

If you’re interested in having Girls Outside come talk to your girls about hiking and getting outdoors, please send us a request at knoxgirlsoutside@gmail.com.

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Announcing Girls Outside Fall Hikes!

hikeannounceMark your calendars: We have four new hikes to announce starting in September.

Also new this fall: a hike for middle school girls! Several of our 6th grade hikers have expressed interest in continuing to hike with us. We don’t want to leave you behind! This special hike will be for girls in grades 7 and 8.

Locations will be announced later. All hikes take place in the afternoon. Full details to come!

  • Saturday, Sept. 6 – Grades 4-6
  • Saturday, Sept. 20 – Grades 7 and 8
  • Saturday, Oct. 4 – Grades 1-3
  • Saturday, Nov. 1 – Grades 1-3
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Trip Report: Springing Into the Outdoors, April 26, 2014

Girls Outside’s second spring hike featured seven intrepid youngsters in grades 1 – 3,  four fantastic adult volunteers, including two new recruits from our winter Recruitment Fair and one accompanying parent.

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Together, we explored a loop starting at Mead’s Quarry, following the Will Skelton Greenway, heading into the Forks of the River Wildlife Management area and back again.  Along the way, the girls enjoyed noting lots of wildlife and even challenged themselves to find all the levels of the food chain.  And we almost did it!  Caterpillars, dragonflies, birds, beetles, and tadpoles.  Several girls enjoyed taking turns with binoculars and paging through field guides to try to identify what they had found.

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We started our journey by reviewing our Leave No Trace guidelines and talking about why they’re a good thing to follow (so others, including the next Girls Outside group can have the same experience we do, and so the animals and plants can continue their lives undisturbed by our visit).  Our girls really took these lessons to heart as the observed, but did not disturb, everything we enjoyed on our trip.

Feedback says all these girls are developing a love of being outdoors, a love for exploration, are enjoying the adult female role models away from their parents and the camaraderie of the Girls Outside experience.  We certainly look forward to seeing many of these girls again!

All hike photos can be viewed at our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/GirlsOutside

 
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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. Deadline to sign up is May 14. Hike leader for this one is Kelly Sturner. Here’s a handy flyer: flyer_may17
Registration is now closed.

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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