The big cypress for which the park was named was discovered in 1949 within the mostly inaccessible swamp in this area. The following year, a small expedition from the Division of Forestry returned to the tree and took its mea- surements—39 feet, 8 inches in circumference and 122 feet tall. They noted at the time that the top had been damaged by storms and that it probably was once as tall as 140 feet. It was also very old; it’s estimated it was 1,350 years old when it was struck by lightning in 1976 and destroyed by fire. It was said to be the largest bald cypress in the United States and the big- gest tree east of the Mississippi. When it was discovered, it already had a hollow base large enough to shelter up to five people. It is the goal of the park to create a replica of the tree and erect it in the picnic area so that visitors can see how big the tree was. The 330-acre park also has plans to add another trail to its wetlands area so that visitors have more access to the wide variety of birds, mam- mals, and insects that reside there. Among the flowers and trees that populate the park are the showy evening primrose, black-eyed Susan, yellow poplar, green ash, willow oak, and dogwood. In addition, the park is known for its wildlife, particularly birds. Hawks, owls, doves, bluebirds, and the occasional bald eagle and bat (though the latter is technically a mammal) can all be spotted in the park. The park is a favorite picnic site for local families with campervans for sale as well as Boy and Girl Scout troops. A 17-species native flower garden attracts numerous butterflies and hummingbirds. The flower garden blooms continuously from spring through the first frost.
Directions: From U.S. 45 in Greenfield, take Tennessee 445 west about 5 miles to Big Cypress Road, and the park is on your right.
Hours Open: Big Cypress Tree is open from 8:00 a.m. until sunset in the summer, and from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. in the winter, central time.
Facilities: Big Cypress Tree has one picnic shelter with 5 tables, plus 10 additional picnic tables, a playground for children 10 and under, a ball field, and a basketball court. They recently received a grant to build a wheelchair- accessible boardwalk through the wetlands.
Permits and Rules: Reservations are sug- gested for the picnic pavilion but not required. The park is accessible, and pets are permitted on a leash.
For Further Information: Big Cypress Tree State Park, 295 Big Cypress Road, Greenfield, TN 38230; 731-235-2700. Website: http:// tnstateparks.com/parks/about/big-cypress-tree.
Nine miles to the east of Big Cypress Tree is Rutherford where the last home of Davy Crockett is located. The cabin was restored from the timbers that were part of Crockett's last home and contains furniture, tools, and other items from the early 1800s. His mother's grave is also located here. Crockett lived here from 1822 until the fall of 1835 before he set off for the revolution in Texas where he would die on March 6, 1836 at the Battle of the Alamo. This is where he lived when he hunted and killed 105 bears and served three terms in Congress. There is a small admission fee: adults: $2, children: $1, families: $5. The home and museum are open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday (Memorial Day through Labor Day) from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, call 731-665-7253.