Weekend adventure: Hiking the arid, colorful and endangered habitat of Middle Tennessee’s cedar glades – WPLN

Nina CardonaWPLN News

The trail through the Couchville Cedar Glade takes you through alternating pockets of woods and stony clearings.

Middle Tennessee can feel like a temperate jungle. Often, trees will sprout up and cover up most spaces if you don’t actively try to keep that from happening. But dotted here and there are rocky, arid spots that are almost like the southern version of a desert. They’re called cedar glades and WPLN’s Nina Cardona recently took an afternoon hike through one in Long Hunter State Park.

Finding a friend

The parking area for the Couchville Cedar Glade is empty when I arrive, so I assume I’m all alone, but not two minutes down the path, I’ve got a buddy. A very young deer, so gangly that it seems all tail and ears, is just a few yards away, just as surprised as me to find company.

The animal looks at me for a moment before bouncing into the strip of trees that extends on one direction. But the trail takes me in a different direction, straight forward to a break in the trees. Just beyond that, there’s a clear space about the size of a house.

Field of gold

No trees can grow here because the bedrock is just an inch or two below the surface. But the things that do grow here are really special. This space is full of waist-high wildflowers with gold petals that flutter in the breeze. They’re dry from this summer’s heat wave, certainly more limp than they might otherwise be, but the effect of being surrounded by the mass of them is impressive.

Nina Cardona WPLN News

The first open areas on the trail are filled with tall, yellow flowers. While many things cannot survive in the rocky soil of cedar glades, nearly a dozen species are only found in them, several of which are colorful wildflowers.

A different kind of woods

Around the edge of the clearing, most of the trees I see are the Eastern red cedars that …….

Source: https://wpln.org/post/weekend-adventure-hiking-the-arid-colorful-and-endangered-habitat-of-middle-tennessees-cedar-glades/

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