The Art of Living: Trails & Trilliums

Celebrating the Natural Wonder of the South Cumberland Plateau

Story by Lyda Kay Ferree, The Southern Lifestyles Lady.
Photography courtesy of the Friends of South Cumberland & Rick Dreves.

The 14th annual Trails and Trilliums Festival will take place April 7, 8 and 9 at the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly. It’s an important fundraiser for the Friends of South Cumberland State Park, supporting Tennessee’s largest state park, and the Friends’ most popular event of the year.

The Monteagle Assembly with its charming cottages, creeks, bridges and gardens is an ideal spot for this unique event. The historic Monteagle Sunday School Assembly donates the use of its buildings and grounds for Trails and Trilliums as a part of its mission. Founded in 1882, it has remained true to its roots, combining interdenominational religious studies with a robust program of art, theatre, literature and public affairs. Today the Monteagle Assembly is a place where families gather during the summer season for fellowship and spiritual and intellectual growth.

“The Trails and Trilliums Festival is easily the most popular event of the year for the Friends of the South Cumberland State Park” said Linda Parrish, chair of the event. “This event attracts over 1,200 people. It’s a fantastic celebration of spring in one of the most bio-diverse places in our region.”

For newcomers to the festival, a trillium is a genus of perennial flowering plants native to temperate regions of North America and Asia. The lovely trillium is in the lily family. The flower has three green or reddish sepals and usually three petals in shades of red, purple, pink, white, yellow or green. Several species have been traditionally used for medicinal purposes. A white trillium serves as the emblem and official flower of the Canadian province of Ontario and is an official symbol of the Government of Ontario. The large white trillium is the official wildflower of Ohio. Major League soccer teams in Toronto and Columbus compete with each other for the Trillium Cup.

The Trails & Trilliums Festival is a fantastic celebration of spring in one of the most bio-diverse places in our region.
— Linda Parrish, chair of the event

What’s New at Trails & Trilliums

Complimentary shuttle service from the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly to most of the trailheads for the 23 expertly-guided hikes that are planned throughout the weekend. There are hikes for people of all ages and skill levels.

Never-before-seen original artworks by renowned regional artists, which will be on display Friday evening, April 7, during the ART for the PARK gala. Proceeds from art sales benefit the work of the Friends of South Cumberland. Among the artists who will be exhibiting this year at ART for the PARK are Bob Askey, a watercolor and oil painter from Sewanee, Tennessee; Sandy Coomer, whose mixed media art creations combine her love of visual art with her love of words as a poet; Lendon Hamilton Noe of Jackson, Tennessee who enjoys creating site-specific thematic shows which include drawings, paintings, collages, image transfers and assemblage; and Bret Weaver of Winchester, Tennessee, an observer of nature and painter of landscapes.

Keynote presentation by Tennessee State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath on “Appalachian Storytelling” at Saturday evening’s (April 8th) Wine & Wildflowers celebration, which will also recognize the work of the Southeastern Climbers Coalition in helping the Friends of South Cumberland and other like-minded groups purchase and protect Denny Cove, which has now been turned over to the State of Tennessee and is officially part of the South Cumberland State Park.

ART for the PARK

The Trails and Trilliums Festival weekend in Monteagle opens Friday evening, April 7 at 5 pm with the annual ART for the PARK art show and sale in Harton Hall next to the Assembly Auditorium and continues throughout the day on Saturday. This year’s ART for the PARK party, benefitting Friends of the South Cumberland, is themed “This Land is Your Land” and will include a casual dinner with beer and wine bars. Come enjoy an early preview of this year’s art, native plant and vendor offerings!


Wine and Wildflowers

Saturday night will feature the fabulous Wine and Wildflowers celebration where participants meet, greet and mingle over wine and appetizers. The event will honor the 2017 Trails and Trilliums Tribute Award winner, the Southeastern Climbers Coalition, for their work in helping the Friends protect the new Denny Cove area of South Cumberland State Park. Tennessee State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath will keynote the evening’s program with Appalachian storytelling.

Festivities throughout the Weekend

On Saturday, April 8 there will be artwork and vendor sales until 3 pm with many nature-themed works that showcase the integration of forest beauty into our lives. Vendors will be indoors this year in the historic Monteagle Sunday School Assembly Auditorium that will be open from 5-9 pm during the ART for the PARK gala as well as all day Saturday from 8am until 3 pm.

Among the vendors this year are As the Wood Turns featuring beautiful and practical lathe-turned wood items; Ephods and Pomegranates with hand woven items; Franklin County Arts Guild’s Traveling Art in a Trunk comprised of art and handmade crafts; Legacy Acres Alpacas for fiber enthusiasts; Mary McElwain’s silver-plated flatware transformed into unique jewelry; Morningside Rugs & Art featuring antique, semi-antique and vintage Persian and Turkish rugs; Overhill Gardens, offering suggestions for enthusiastic native plant gardeners; and Ron Vandyke, who produces whimsical metal pieces.

Overhill Gardens will have a broad variety of native plants for gardeners that will recreate forest enchantment at their homes in its usual location outside the auditorium. The art show and sale in adjacent Harton Hall will continue as well.

Also on Saturday programs and workshops designed for family fun will be presented on the Mall at the Assembly featuring Birds of Prey, Constructing Fairy Houses and Natural Dye Making.

On both Saturday and Sunday hikers of every skill level may explore the natural wonders of the South Cumberland Plateau with a series of expertly guided hikes, led by some of the area’s foremost naturalists.

“Rain or shine, please join us for our 14th annual Trails and Trilliums festival and support the work of the Friends of South Cumberland State Park,” says Linda Parrish, event chair.

Admission to the Assembly grounds is free; a pass that includes all hikes and daytime programs is $20; admission to Friday night’s ART for the PARK is $40; admission to Saturday night’s Wine & Wildflowers is $15 (all prices per person). An “all-access” pass is available for $75 per person. For more information and to register visit


What to Know

Trails and Trilliums
April 7, 8 and 9, 2017
Monteagle Sunday School Assembly, Monteagle, TN

Directions: Take I-24 East from Nashville toward Chattanooga. Take Monteagle/Sewanee exit 134 and turn right on US 41A. Travel 0.6 miles.