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By Land or Water There Are Many Ways to Explore the Nashville Region

The Nashville region boasts a mile-long list of resources for staying active.

By Lindsey Hyde on November 4, 2020

Nashville TN
Nashville / Jeff Adkins

Whether you are a traditionalist when it comes to staying active or more of a thrill-seeker, the Nashville region is bursting with opportunities to burn off a few calories.

Nashville TN
Nashville / Jeff Adkins

Take a Stroll

OK, walkers! Lace up those sneakers and grab your water bottles because the region boasts numerous standout parks with trails to tread, such as Edwin and Percy Warner parks.

In fact, Metro Nashville Parks alone encompasses more than 10,000 acres of parkland, so finding a spot to get in those 10,000 steps for the day will be a breeze.

“Nashville residents and surrounding communities love the Warner Parks, and they utilize the parks in a variety of recreational ways … among the popular ones are hiking, bicycling and running,†says Bob Parrish, resource management and historian for the Friends of Warner Parks, a nonprofit that promotes the preservation and protection of the parks. “Having large preserved open spaces also contributes to clean air in a community and clean water, and helps keep the urban heat index down and provides escape from urban pressures.”

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In Nashville, it’s greenways galore. The Harpeth River Greenway, for example, is made up of a series of four disconnected, multiuse trails that run along the Harpeth River.

“I think Nashville has benefited by the fact that there’s a major local effort to continue expanding open space, to increase the number of greenway trails and other trails, and to have diverse recreational opportunities that serve everyone in the community,†Parrish says.

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Nashville / Jeff Adkins

Run for It!

For those of you who find joy in running miles on end, you will love the Nashville area. In addition to the greenways and parks, where you can track numerous miles on your own, you’ll also find running groups, like East Nasty Running Club in East Nashville, which began as a small organization of about 10 runners in June 2008 and has grown into one of Tennessee’s largest running groups.

East Nasty’s main draw is its regularly scheduled run held every Wednesday evening. And as any true runner knows, rain or shine, hot or cold, people will show up. The group also leads 5K and half and full marathon training programs.

Speaking of half and full marathons, Nashville hosts the annual St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon and 1/2 Marathon, typically held in April, and the Nashville 1/2 Marathon®, Marathon & 5K in November (events in 2020 were postponed because of the COVID-19 outbreak).

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Nashville / Jeff Adkins

Adventure Awaits

While running 26.2 miles might sound like a true test of ambition, Nashville offers other activities that are sure to get your heart beating.

From climbing to zip lining to obstacle challenges, adventure sports are growing in the region.

Climb Nashville offers two locations where climbers can slip-on shoes, chalk up and free climb or belay.

Another option for a thrill is Treetop Adventure Park, which features 100 fun, yet challenging obstacles, including suspended bridges, giant zip lines, cargo nets and Tarzan swings. Plus, you can zip through the trees with Adventureworks, a zip line park with two area locations.

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Nashville / Jeff Adkins

The Water’s Fine

For those of you who prefer a little less intense workout, the Nashville region is home to plenty of water. Just east of downtown, Percy Priest Lake is a favorite among the locals for boating and water sports. Another place to launch a canoe or kayak or even paddleboard is East Bank Landing, a 2-plusacre park on the banks of the Cumberland River.

“Nashville has incredible access to blueways, rivers and lakes, and I think that sometimes gets overlooked,†says Margaret Littman, who founded Nashville Paddle Co., which offers stand-up paddleboard (SUP) lessons as well as SUP and kayak rentals.

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“We have all these incredible resources 20 minutes from downtown that make you feel like you’re really connecting with nature,†she says. “I felt like a lot of people didn’t know about that or hadn’t taken advantage of that, and I wanted to make that access to nature more readily available.”

Nashville TN
Nashville / Jeff Adkins

Rides to Try

Numerous pedal-friendly paths populate the region, and residents can’t get enough of the views they offer – from the downtown skyline to beautiful urban landscapes to woodlands. No matter your taste, you are sure to find a favorite that you’ll go back to time and time again. Well-seasoned biker and founder of the bike shop Trail & Fitness Bicycles, George Khoury shares his opinion on some of the region’s best biking paths.

1. Percy Warner 

Are you ready for an 8-miler? If so, put both wheels down at Percy Warner. This trail begins at the Percy Warner MTB Trailhead and includes moderate climbs and short downhill sections throughout.

Khoury: It’s probably one of the greatest metropolitan parks in the country. It’s beautiful – there’s tons of wildlife, great hiking trails, great mountain biking trails. Definitely kind of our go-to mountain bike destination.

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2. Barfield Crescent

Located in Murfreesboro, this technical trail system is over 8 miles and includes paths for people of all skill levels.

Khoury: Barfield is one of the newer mountain bike areas in Middle Tennessee. From what I’ve been told, it’s very challenging.

3. Chickasaw Trace

Chickasaw Trace is an 8.5-mile scenic loop. Both its river and woodland trails are appropriate options for everyone, from mountain bikers to children.

Khoury: This is one of the older mountain bike trails in Middle Tennessee. It’s got parts that are very fun and accessible for a new rider, but then it’s got other areas that are very challenging with a decent amount of elevation change.

4. Harpeth River Greenway

Views of suburban Nashville accompany this greenway that spans more than 5 miles and is made up of four disconnected trails following the Harpeth River.

Khoury: Harpeth River Greenway is awesome. It is a paved trail. It is pancake flat. It’s where I taught my daughter to ride her bike without training wheels, so it’s really nice.

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5. Cumberland River Greenway

This more than 7.5-mile greenway follows the Cumberland River, giving riders a variety of views, including some of Nashville’s skyline.

Khoury: Pretty flat ride. This is a paved trail, not a mountain bike trail but, obviously, easy access from the downtown area or to get into the downtown area, which is pretty cool.

If you’d like to learn more about the Nashville area, check out the latest edition of Nashville Area Economic Development

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