MetroCenter Levee Trail on the Cumberland River Greenway

May 8, 2013 in Tennessee Hiking Trails by amylaree

MetroCenter Levee Trailhead

MetroCenter Levee Trailhead

Nashville has made great strides in the last several years to strengthen the greenway system throughout the city. We’ve already reviewed several of the greenways (Shelby Bottoms, Stones River, Mill Creek, Bells Bend) so last fall (I know, I know this post is LONG overdue) we headed out to check out the MetroCenter Levee trail on the Cumberland River Greenway.

  1. Scenery:  2.0
  2. Difficulty:  0
  3. Length:  3.0 miles
  4. Dog Friendly Factor: 4.5
  5. Convenience:  5
  6. Bonus Funtimes: 0

Scenery (2.0 out of 5.0): If you’re familiar with MetroCenter, you know it’s a pretty flat space topped with a whole lot of office buildings (and the Titans’ training facility), so I was pleasantly surprised by how relatively scenic this trail was. The Cumberland River and the bluffs overlooking it are the main attractions. There were a few nice views, but the steady stream of office buildings and storage facilities killed a lot of the “get out in nature” vibe.

Great sunset on the MetroCenter Greenway

Great sunset on the MetroCenter Greenway

Difficulty (0 out of 5.0): This trial is flat and paved and super easy. This is a there-and-back trail, so unless you’re immensely talented you won’t get lost. It’s easily accessible for walkers as well as cyclists or would also be a good alternative for anyone with disabilities who may not be able to get out and about on other trails.

Length: 3.0 Miles

Dog Friendly Factor (4.5 out of 5.0): This was another easy trail for the dogs. The only thing it’s missing is a good watering hole for them to take a long drink, but overall this is a short enough trail that it shouldn’t matter too much.

Convenience (5.0 out of 5.0): This trail starts just north of downtown next and is easily accessible.

Bonus Funtimes (0 out of 5.0): Aside from the perk that this trail is almost smack dab in the middle of Nashville (where there’s tons to do), there’s not a lot of extra fun stuff on this trail. However, the immense convenience of it does make for a nice spot to get some fresh air and enjoy views of the Cumberland River.

Couchville Lake Trail at Long Hunter State Park

April 22, 2013 in Tennessee Hiking Trails by amylaree

Couchville Lake Trail

Couchville Lake Trail

Springtime has finally arrived and it’s time to get back on the trails. This was our first time “hiking” since little E was born in January, so we chose Couchville Lake Trail at Long Hunter State Park, a quick and easy hiking trail just outside of Nashville.

  1. Scenery:  2.0
  2. Difficulty:  0
  3. Length:  2.0 miles
  4. Dog Friendly Factor: 0
  5. Convenience:  5
  6. Bonus Funtimes: 3.0

Trail Map:

 

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Lots of quiet spots for fishing or just relaxing along the paved trail at Couchville Lake.

Scenery (2.0 out of 5.0): Couchville Lake Trail makes for a nice, if uneventful, day out in nature. The terrain is completely flat and paved – a bonus if you’re carting a long a stroller (as we saw quite a few folks doing). The trail loops through Tennessee’s first state-certified arboretum in a State Park and there are markings along the paved path that identify different types of trees. This trail would make a good starting point for anyone interested in learning how to identify different tree types. Here’s a guide to identifying the trees along the Couchville Lake Trail.

There are some nice views of the small lake and quite a few places to stop and enjoy the quiet scenery, including benches and short fishing piers. The tall trees provide a great canopy for about 85% of the time on the trail… looking up at the tall trees and leaves was very entertaining for our little guy. This trail seemed to be a great intro for his entry into the outdoors :)

Difficulty (0 out of 5): This trail truly could not be any easier. The flat path is completely paved and well maintained, which kind of makes it a stretch to call this a “hike” but it is a nice spot for a walk in the woods. Cyclists and skaters are prohibited – basically anything with wheels (except strollers and wheelchairs) are prohibited, making it much more relaxing than some other busy trails in the area. We saw quite a few joggers – this is a great, easy spot for a short run.

The trailhead for the Lake Trail is very close to the Bryant Grove Trail. If you’d like to add some distance on to your hike, combine these two trails for a 10 trek.

Little E pondering Couchville Lake Trail.

Babies welcomed at Couchville Lake Trail, but not doggies.

Length: 2 miles

Dog Friendly Factor (0 out of 5.0): Dogs are prohibited at Couchville Lake Trail. There are several signs and the area is well patrolled by the park rangers, so it’s best to leave the pups at home for this day outdoors.

Convenience (5.0 out of 5.0): Couchville Lake is right next to Percy Priest Lake, making it a quick and easy trip. Entry to Couchville Lake area is well marked and just down the road from the Volunteer Day Loop trail.

Bonus Funtimes (3.5 out of 5.0): Bonus Funtimes is where Couchville Lake excels. There’s a pavillion for cookouts and parties, lots of great spots for fishing, a nice sized playground for the kiddos, the arboretum guide and small boats are available for rent during the summertime months.

3 Hikes for Thanksgiving Weekend

November 21, 2012 in Tennessee Hiking Trails by amylaree

Thanksgiving Hiking Hounds

Thanksgiving is for the dogs.

My personal favorite holiday is almost upon us (which means I’ve got to get to cookin’…). We hope you all enjoy a great Thanksgiving with family, friends and full bellies! Among dozens of other things, we’re thankful for the opportunity to get outdoors and share our stories with all of you. Thank you for your ongoing support!

If you’re looking for a good alternative to the frenzy of Black Friday shopping (ugh!), here’s our recommendations trails to hit up after you’ve done your best to conquer the Thanksgiving feast.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Gilbert Gaul Trail at Fall Creek Falls State Park

October 2, 2012 in Tennessee Hiking Trails by amylaree

Gilbert Gaul Trail at Fall Creek Falls

Gilbert Gaul Trail at Fall Creek Falls

A while back we participated in the Tennessee State Park’s 75th Anniversary “Share Your Memories” Contest and were selected to win a free night’s stay at one of the state park inns. Since the story we submitted was about Ezra’s breakdown on the bridge at Fall Creek Falls, we thought it only fitting to head back to FCF for our free night’s stay. While there we hit up the off-the-beaten-track Gilbert Gaul Trail.

  1. Scenery:  2.5
  2. Difficulty:  1.5
  3. Length:  4.1 miles
  4. Dog Friendly Factor: 5.0
  5. Convenience:  1.5
  6. Bonus Funtimes: 5.0
Trail Map:

 

Beaver Dam

Beaver Dam (that’s a lot of sticks)

Scenery (2.5 out of 5.0): While Fall Creek Falls is full of trails with really impressive views of the many different waterfalls, this less-traveled trail provides a little more subdued scenery. The trail starts out along a fully wooded path typical of many trails in Tennessee, but it’s not long until the trail begins to skirt along Fall Creek Falls Lake.

These peaceful lake views continue throughout the bulk of the hike – and give you a great chance to see nature at work. From tiny toads leaping across the trail to impressive beaver handiwork that’s evident through a sizable beaver dam, the delights of this trail really came from slowing down and observing nature at work.

As the trail curves away from the lake for the last mile, the wooded area disappears and you enter a small, open meadow. The day we walked through the trail the grass was high and butterflies hopped from one wildflower patch to another. From here the trail quickly enters back to a wooded path that takes you back to the trailhead.

Fall Creek Falls Lake

Fall Creek Falls Lake

Difficulty (1.5 out of 5.0): Aside from a few mild climbs (one longer one just past the meadow during the home stretch to the trailhead), there’s not much difficulty on this trail. During the first two miles the trail is very well maintained, but after that you’ll encounter some higher grass on the less-traveled portion of the trail.

Tall Thistle next to Nate

Note the freakishly tall thistle to Nate’s right (above his head!)

Length: 4.4 miles

Dog Friendly Factor (5.0 out of 5.0): We didn’t have the dogs with us on this trek, but they would’ve done great on this trail. With so many spots right along the lake, there’d never be a worry about not finding enough water forthem to refresh themselves. The one note of caution (and it’s only a minor one) – there’s a lot of free roaming wildlife at FCF so we saw quite a few deer and a group of wild turkeys — if your dog’s likely to bolt after these types of critters, you’ll want to be sure to keep a good hand on the leash just in case you run into some deer!

Convenience (1.5 out of 5.0): At 100 miles+ from Nashville, plan an entire day for this outing.

Bonus Funtimes (5.0 out of 5.0): Fall Creek Falls is one of Tennessee’s most popular state parks for good reason. There’s hiking, biking, camping, swimming, fishing and a whole host of family friendly activities. We enjoyed our free night’s stay at the Inn (which is more like a conference center than a rustic lodge) and made sure to get seconds at the great buffet in the restaurant at the inn. We also hit up the lake for a little paddle boat action on our first night! Any trip to FCF will give you plenty of memories to take home!

Abrams Falls at Smoky Mountain National Park

July 25, 2012 in Tennessee Hiking Trails by amylaree

Abrams Falls Trailhead

Abrams Falls Trailhead

Abrams Falls Trail

We kicked off our trip to the Smoky Mountains with a trek along the very popular Abrams Falls Trail. Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited national park in the country and this trail certainly ranks among the most crowded that we’ve hiked. While it was crowded, this moderately difficult trail led us to the impressive Abrams Falls and swimming hole.

  1. Scenery:  3.5
  2. Difficulty:  3.0
  3. Length:  5.0 miles
  4. Dog Friendly Factor: 3.0
  5. Convenience:  1.5
  6. Bonus Funtimes: 5.0
Trail Map:

 

Abrams Creek

Abrams Creek

Scenery (3.5 out of 5.0): The Abrams Falls trailhead starts off at a bucolic setting along Abrams Creek. The creekside views are almost continual throughout the hike. As we hiked along the dirt path, the laurels were in bloom, which made it all the more scenic. The highest point along the trail provides a lovely view of the surrounding area.

While the rest of the trail provides some idyllic scenes, the main event comes with the arrival to Abrams Falls. While Abrams Fall is only 20′ tall, the volume of the falls is tremendous. The pool that forms at the base of the falls makes for a great swimming hole that was filled with people of all ages. If you can get around the crowds to the base of the falls there are some large boulders that are perfect for soaking up the sun and enjoying the roar of the falls.

Base of Abrams Falls

Gorgeous Abrams Falls

Difficulty (3.0 out of 5.0): While the pathway is well maintained and the footing is very easy, there are a couple of good climbs during this 5 mile trek – an elevation change of about 1,800 feet. There were people of all ages on this trail – lots of kids who seemed in pretty good spirits on the way to the falls, but were definitely dragging on the ascent back up the highest ridge. While the end result of the trail is a beautiful, family friendly swimming hole, flip flops and strollers are not suggested for the 2.5  hike to get there.

Abrams Falls Trail Crowds

Hikers in drove to Abrams Falls

Length: 5.0 miles

Dog Friendly Factor (0 out of 5.0): Dogs are not allowed on trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so the pups stayed at home this day.

Convenience (2.0 out of 5.0): The trailhead for the Abrams Falls is about 4 hours from Nashville and located at the far end of the drive through Cade’s Cove. It’s an easy drive and readily accessible, just a ways away from Middle Tennessee.

Bonus Funtimes (5.0 out of 5.0): Aside from the awesome swimming hole at the base of Abrams Falls, you will certainly find plenty of ways to be entertained while at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are dozens of campgrounds and seemingly hundreds of trails. If lazing on the river is your preference, there are plenty of tubing outfitters and a few kayaking spots.