Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cumberland Mountain State Park

As of Friday, April 8th, 2011 I have visited Cumberland Mountain State Park. Once when I was too young to really take away any appreciation although I liked it enough to come back. Most recently, five days ago, I gave Cumberland Mountain State Park another visit as the beautiful first tendrils of spring unfurled at the tips of buds throughout the south. Heading toward the restaurant, you'll first encounter a beautiful arching bridge, damming up a river into Byrd Lake. The icy spring water spills out through these arches to continue away down the river.

In the park you'll find other amenities, typical pavilions and shelters, hiking trails, campsite, and a baseball diamond and tennis courts. You can read more about all of those here. All of this isn't much, though, in comparison with any other pretty park. What really sets Cumberland Mountain State Park apart from others is the rare restaurant.

It's not just another run down government parks building, this place is beautiful! Sitting high over Byrd Lake, the dining area provides a sweeping view of the natural area around you as you dine. Lunch and dinner can be had Tuesday through Thursday. On Friday one will find a delicious all-you-can-eat buffet of fried catfish, cinnamon apples, salad bar, banana cream pudding, ice cream, and every other delicacy one can imagine for less than $10. Saturday is the all-you-can-eat rib night.

 Want more information? Check the Cumberland Mountain State Park Website.

One of the more entertaining factors in the park is the pair of Canadian geese which have taken up residency and have a certain affinity for ice-cream cones. Of course it's ill-advised to feed geese ice cream cones, as these birds do not have the proper mouths for chewing such food... but sometimes you can't resist giving them just a bit! They will eat from your hand if you are gentle and unthreatening, a highly exciting experience for young and old alike.

The park has some nice hiking trails, as I mention. One of the trails even allows overnight camping, through it ranks among the shorter of overnight backpacking trails. You can find the trail map for Cumberland Mountain State Park here, though I think you'll find it of such poor resolution that it is essentially useless. Head into the restaurant and ask for a trail map. They've got some decent ones in there. The trails in Cumberland Mountain State Park are short, easy, and safe so feel free to toddle on out to the trail with the kids for an hour long loop around the lake to get that appetite ready for all-you-can-eat catfish!

This is really a great park to visit in the changes of season, spring and fall. It's beautiful to spend time wandering through the park before dinner and then watch the wildlife and beauty of nature as you dine over the water for an all-you-can-eat meal. And don't forget to find the side-trail that runs down next to the bridge where you can hop from rock to rock at the base of the short waterfalls.

Happy trails.

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