From Lady Legends to Heroes, the Screaming Eagle Trail is an eclectic 353-mile adventure from Music City to the backroads of Middle Tennessee, ending at the home of the 101st Airborne Division, the Screaming Eagles.
Discover the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum where you can catch a glimpse into the lives of legends like Roy Acuff, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn along with many others. Tour the former home of the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium, originally built in 1892 and don’t forget about the Grand Ole Opry itself. Stroll through the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park with an astonishing view of the State Capitol. Choose from one of the many stunning hotels within an easy walk to downtown and explore Nashville’s music scene at night, experiencing the historic honky tonks.
As you leave the big city behind, travel west, where you experience the scenic beauty and charming rural towns of Middle Tennessee. Likewise, notice the railroad along your way; newly-freed slaves helped build the Nashville-Northwestern, 78 miles from Nashville to Johnsonville, where at the Johnsonville State Historic Park you can learn about the battle that took place there in 1864. An African-American cemetery with “residents” from long ago rests on a tree-covered hill. But there are many places to encounter before you arrive there.
Kingston Springs is a quiet bedroom community with a historical downtown and the Fillin’ Station, serving incredible pork shoulder sandwiches and an extensive beer menu. Stretch your legs while hiking along the beautiful Harpeth River, or better yet, canoe the waterway.
After working up an appetite, stop by Carl’s Perfect Pig. Carl has served barbecue right there for more than 20 years. Not far away, you can find a bed for the night at Montgomery Bell State Park. You can choose between the Inn or villas and wake to a traditional southern breakfast buffet overlooking picturesque Lake Acorn. Care for a round of golf? The park boasts an Audubon-certified 18-hole course. As you ramble down Dickson’s Main Street, stop in the many quaint shops, restaurants, and full-service spa as well as the Clement Railroad Hotel Museum where you can wonder at the model train that fills an entire room. Though it may be hard to tear yourself away, it’s time to head further west.
Follow the Trail to Enoch’s Century Farm where the 1890 farmhouse has been fitted with some modern conveniences and is offered as a bed and breakfast. Or stop by the historic grist mill at Enoch’s, and imagine how this mill produced enough electricity for several families for a few hours each day. Country music legend, Loretta Lynn, lives just eight miles away and welcomes visitors to her ranch to stay overnight in one of the cabins or campgrounds.
During the season, campfires are a nightly occurrence with live music. Plan to tour the Plantation House and museum, shop in Western Town, play in the creek and take a trail ride on horseback.
As you leave Loretta’s and drive through Waverly, stop in the downtown area. Not only will you find shops and great eating and gathering places, you’ll notice a theater that shows current films and has been there in the same family for 80 years. Just a short walk will take you to the Chamber of Commerce, located in a historic Greyhound Bus Depot. As you continue your journey west, stop by Johnsonville State Historic Park, where the railway from Nashville ended and a Civil War battle took place. Living history events often take place here, however, the Welcome Center museum is always open. You will learn about the battle on the Tennessee River where the Confederate Calvary sunk a Union Navy vessel.
Retrace the route east a short distance, and head north on a scenic road to Erin, have lunch at Fitz’s and catch up on the local news (or maybe gossip). According to Irish legend, whoever kisses the Blarney Stone is gifted with eloquence and persuasiveness and consequently, the Stone can be found on the lawn of the Courthouse.
Throughout Tennessee, history is pervasive and Dover is no exception. The Dover Hotel, also known as the Surrender House, overlooks the Cumberland River. This was the Civil War site where, in 1862, Confederate General Buckner surrendered to the Union General Grant. Fort Donelson National Battlefield, less than two miles from the Dover Hotel, was the scene of the first major Union victory in the Civil War. There, too, the Fort Donelson National Cemetery lays and is the final resting place for countless soldiers from various wars.
Continue north to Ft. Campbell and the 101st Airborne Division, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and historic Clarksville. Marvel at memorabilia of the Screaming Eagles found in the Pratt Museum on this active military base.
Not far away is Fort Defiance, which was a Civil War outpost. The Eternal Flame, on the square, symbolizes the bond between Fort Campbell and Clarksville. Revel in downtown Clarksville’s assorted places to shop, eat and drink. This historic area was settled in the 1780’s and is Tennessee’s fastest growing city. Another Lady Legend, Pat Summit, called this area home, and you can travel the Pat Summit Scenic Parkway.
While you’re here, stop by the living history museum at Historic Collinsville, Dunbar Cave State Park, and the Beachaven Winery. Winding your way on the final loop back to Nashville, take a break at the Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail in Ashland City, where old railroad beds have been transformed into miles of hiking trails.
As you arrive in Historic Germantown, Nashville’s first suburb incorporated into the city limits in 1865, you will marvel at the now restored buildings that are home to a diverse selection of boutiques, restaurants and shops.
There are countless other spots along the way, as well as, abundant festivals and events along the trail throughout the year. I look forward to seeing you along our byways and telling you their stories – the whispered romances, the voices of soldiers of the Confederacy and the Union and the ghosts that reside in Loretta’s Plantation Mansion, part of the Soundtrack of America, Made in Tennessee.