There’s no shortage of places to get active and explore the great outdoors in Maury County, where sunshine-seekers have easy access to high-quality parks, natural areas, golf courses and a thriving sports complex. The community also offers ample opportunities for water activities like canoeing, kayaking and fishing.
“Maury County is really a beautiful part of the state, and it has a lot to offer when it comes to nature and outdoor recreation,” says Al Ray, Maury County Parks and Recreation director.
Parks: History and Recreation
Maury County Parks and Recreation currently manages five parks that cover more than 1,000 acres, including the 250-acre Maury County Park in Columbia, which Ray calls a must-visit destination. It features a 1.5-mile paved walking trail; a hiking trail and natural area with an outdoor classroom; a special trail for kids’ motorized vehicles; an equestrian area; two playgrounds; a miniature train track associated with the Mid-South Live Steamers; a baseball complex that’s home to the Columbia American Little League; and Lindsey Nelson Football Stadium, where the Columbia Central High School football team plays.
Also located in Columbia is the 300-acre Chickasaw Trace Park, where visitors can traverse more than 8 miles of hiking and biking trails and access the Duck River. Ray says the park is best known for hosting the Columbia Cycling Club’s Jailbreak Triathlon, an annual event that includes canoeing, mountain biking and trail running.
“The Jailbreak Triathlon draws tons of people to Maury County every year,” Ray says. “People also love the Chickasaw Trace Classic Mountain Bike Race and the Columbia Cycling Club 15K Trail Run that’s held at Chickasaw Trace.”
Spring Hill is home to Port Royal State Historic Park, site of one of the earliest colonial communities and trading posts in Middle Tennessee. The park features an early Pratt Truss design steel bridge that was built in 1887. The pedestrian bridge, which spans Sulphur Fork Creek, offers visitors a picturesque view of the Red River and the Sulphur Fork Creek.
In Mount Pleasant, the 23-acre Williams Spring Park is a popular spot, while Spring Hill is home to the 20-acre Jerry Erwin Park. Maury County’s fifth existing park facility, Hampshire Park, has a large playground and a paved walking trail. The county will soon feature a sixth park, Yanahli Park, located just east of downtown Columbia and formerly part of the Yanahli Wildlife Management Area. According to Ray, the 474-acre park will include 2 miles of trails and provide Duck River access, with funding provided by a $500,000 grant from the federal government for park improvements.
“Yanahli Park will give paddlers and anglers greater access to the Duck River, which is one of the most biodiverse rivers in North America,” Ray says. “Overall, the main purpose of the new park is to establish more opportunities along the river’s corridor.”
Adventure Enthusiasts and Sports Fans
Another top spot for water-based recreation is the 1,722-acre Williamsport Lakes Wildlife Management Area, situated west of Columbia and offering six lakes ranging in size from 12 to 80 acres. The destination is especially popular among anglers due to its four fishable lakes that have an abundance of largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, Cherokee bass and blue and channel catfish. Birding is another favorite activity at Williamsport Lakes WMA as it is home to field sparrows, red-winged blackbirds, blue-winged warblers and other species.
Looking for a fun, family-friendly activity? Head to Stillhouse Hollow Falls State Natural Area, a 90-acre attraction near Summertown that features a 75-foot waterfall, or catch a soccer or softball game at Columbia’s Ridley Sports Complex. Southport Saltpeter Cave in Culleoka, one of Middle Tennessee’s largest caves, is one of the best places in the county for adventurers – particularly those interested in spelunking. Filled with unusual formations and large caverns that date back approximately 300,000 years, the cave is open for both guided and solo tours by appointment.
Those seeking a more relaxing experience are in luck, too, thanks to Maury County’s many high-quality golf courses. Graymere Country Club and Stoneybrook Golf Course are located in Columbia, while King’s Creek Golf Club – designed by the late golf legend Arnold Palmer and nicknamed Arnie’s Masterpiece – is in Spring Hill. Another option is the nine-hole track at Mount Pleasant Country Club that’s ideal for beginners with wide fairways and large greens.