Warriors' Path State Park Honored for Innovation

Thursday, August 26, 2021 | 02:24pm

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has honored Warriors’ Path State Park in Kingsport as its top park in the state for innovation, part of the 2021 Tennessee State Parks Awards of Excellence. The park received the honor at a recent park management conference at Pickwick Landing State Park.

“Warriors’ Path State Park is most deserving of this recognition,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of TDEC, said. “The creative work of the park staff, most notably in establishing a new campground, speaks to the efficiency, creativity, and dedication in providing a great experience for visitors, and we are pleased to present this award.”

The park staff created and built the Cedar Ridge Hammock Campground after the closure of the park’s primitive campground for new construction. The closure left the park with no ability to offer traditional camping opportunities, and it lacked space to provide a year-round area suitable for group camping, which was needed for area organizations.

The Cedar Ridge Hammock Campground contains four sites built in a once privet-covered area. Each site was constructed with recycled, reused, or repurposed materials. The entire space cost the park only the installation of a water hydrant. Volunteers and park staff all made contributions in the form of support, labor, and ideas.

The campground features hammock posts constructed from cedars lost in a winter storm, picnic tables salvaged from dilapidated stone bases, benches constructed with components from rusted grills, fire rings made from leftover trail projects as well as river rock and even lantern hooks from scrapped grill handles from old firepits.

The campground can accommodate 72 hammocks. One site, the Pine Wheel, named for the large pine directly in the middle, can accommodate 24 hammocks in a wheel-spoke layout. Cedar Ridge Hammock Campground opened in 2021 and has already served hundreds of guests. Recycling bins have been placed at the campground entrance.

Other improvements to the area include a worm farm for composting organic waste from the campground, a group space, and walking trails to the nearest bathhouses. Ample parking is nearby.

The Tennessee State Parks Awards of Excellence also recognized winners in other specific categories. They included Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park for customer engagement; Pickett State Park for excellence in facilities management; Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park for interpretation; Pickwick Landing State Park for sustainability; and Johnsonville State Historic Park for resource management. Cummins Falls State Park was named Park of the Year for overall excellence.