Raised walkways and pedestrian bridges link segments of the Stones River Greenway east of downtown Nashville.

Walk Middle Tennessee’s Gorgeous Greenways and Trails

This time of year Middle Tennessee is not too hot and winter’s big chill hasn’t arrived so it’s just right for spending time outdoors. There are lots of spots to find fresh air and sunshine to help keep the winter doldrums at bay.

If you’ve not yet experienced a greenway, you’re in for a treat. Most of Middle Tennessee’s greenways are kid and dog-friendly. They tend to be long and narrow, designed to create, protect and link green spaces that connect neighborhoods, schools, parks, historic sites and commercial centers.

Nashville currently has more than 50 miles of multi-use greenways and 140 miles of assorted trails.

A few highlights of Nashville’s extensive greenways include Shelby Bottoms with 6.4 miles of multi-use, accessible paved trails; Cumberland on the western shore of the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville; and Richland Creek in West Nashville with three miles of paved trail connecting McCabe Park and the Sylvan Park neighborhood.

For details and a complete listing visit: www.nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation/Greenways-and-Trails.

One of my favorites is the Stones River Greenway in East Nashville that runs 10.2 miles along the Stones River as it connects the western side of J. Percy Priest Lake Dam and Shelby Bottoms Park. There are several trailheads including trail access and a boat launch at Heartland Park off McGavock Pike less than a mile from where the Stones River joins the Cumberland. Although relatively few anglers launch boats here, everyone enjoys the sights and sounds of the river.

Stones River Greenway

Raised walkways and pedestrian bridges link segments of the Stones River Greenway east of downtown Nashville.

Trails inside parks in the Nashville area include six miles of trails within Radnor Lake State Park’s 1,200 acres. There are 12 miles of hiking, biking trails and equestrian trails surrounded by 2,800 acres in West Nashville’s Warner Parks (www.nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation/Nature-Centers-and-Natural-Areas) where a large dog park lets your pooch run around off-leash and make some new dog buddies.

You’ll find 7.4 miles of hiking trails in Bells Bend’s 800 acres and five miles of hiking trails within Beaman Park’s 1,700 acres.

Other parks in the vicinity include Long Hunter State Park on J. Percy Priest Lake with 22 miles of hiking trails ranging from 0.25 to 5.5 miles long and a trail for mountain bikers.

Warner Park

Percy Warner, the larger of the two Warner Parks, contains an extensive network of hiking trails as well as 10 miles of equestrian paths and the Steeplechase racecourse.

Bledsoe Creek State Park on Old Hickory Lake has developed about six miles of hiking trails. Both parks have water access for canoes and plenty of fishing for anglers.

Cedars of Lebanon State Park has eight miles of hiking trails meandering through the cedar forests and glades.

The 3,850-acre Montgomery Bell State Park outside Dickson offers many reasons to head outdoors from hiking and fishing to mountain biking, birding, orienteering and golfing. Visit www.tnstateparks.com to find the state park closest to you.

The Park at Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin has walkers, joggers and dogs sharing fields that once pastured the most famous Tennessee walking horse of them all, Midnight Sun. Even today, most champion walking horses trace their lineage to the famous stallion.

Harlindale Park

Harlinsdale Park in Franklin has trails ranging from 1.25 to four miles, a half-acre off-leash dog park and a three-acre catch and release pond set amid 200 acres of gently rolling farmland.

Murfreesboro’s Greenway System connects historical sites, parks, neighborhoods and offers nature hikes, walking, running, bicycling or in-line skating along the five miles of the Stones River and Lytle Creek Greenways. Small watercraft access points are also available for paddlers to enjoy the Stones River.

Fairview’s Bowie Nature Park has 17 miles of winding trails that include horse and mountain bike trails that pass through wetlands, grasslands and pine/oak/hickory forests. Dogs should remain on leashes but are welcomed. For information, visit www.bowiepark.org.

Bowie Nature Park Goose

Bowie Nature Park provides a playground, fishing and picnic areas along Lake Van and a nature center with seasonal programs for families, children and adults to introduce visitors to this little gem of a park.

Care to share your fall greenway experiences?

Hi there! I’m Vernon Summerlin. Like many, I came to Nashville to break into the music industry. After years of striving, I...Read on

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