Ridgetop Trail at Beaman Park

March 21, 2010 in Tennessee Hiking Trails by amylaree

Beaman Park is a quiet, but large park north of Nashville with several trails.  For our first outing at Beaman, we opted for the Ridgetop Trail (also called the Highland Trail).  As the name suggests, this route rolls along the top ridge of the park’s hills.
  1. Scenery: 2.0
  2. Difficulty: 2.5
  3. Distance: 4.2
  4. Convenience: 3.5
  5. Dog Friendliness: 3.5
  6. Bonus Funtimes: 2.0

Scenery (2.0 out of 5): Hiking along the top ridge of the park provided some nice views of the area’s valleys, but other than that, this trail didn’t provide any sights out of the ordinary.  Next time we head out to Beaman Park we’ll try the Henry Hollow Loop which promises a mix of creeks, hills and trees.

Difficulty (2.0 out of 5):  Other than a steep climb or two, this was a pretty easy trail that provided a good workout.

Distance:  4.2 miles

Convenience (3.5 out of 5):  An easy 25 minute drive from downtown Nashville.

Dog Friendliness (3.0 out of 5):  The trail was pretty dog friendly, but would have rated higher on Ezrability if there’d been some watering holes for the pup.

Bonus Funtimes (2.0 out of 5): The trek to Beaman Park makes for a nice drive.  Depending on the route you take (or the wrong route, as we discovered) you may come upon Ri’chard’s Café.  Known among local songwriters for its Writers’ Nights, Ri’chard’s is also a haven for anyone in need of Cajun food fix.  We were in the area on Super Bowl Sunday when the Saints were playing, so we figured the place would be a little too packed for a stop, but it’s on our list for the next time.


This hike and others found in 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Nashville, get your own copy now from amazon.com.

Pinnacle Trail at Hamilton Creek

March 8, 2010 in Tennessee Hiking Trails by amylaree

“The worst part of it is the continued false sense of hope,” Nate said as we entered into the second hour of the zig-zagging Pinnacle Trail, a hike that dragged out much, much longer than anticipated.  Also uttered during this hike were phrases like “I HATE THIS TRAIL,” “Is it over yet?” “Never again” and upon finally seeing the clearing for the parking lot, “HALLELUJAH!”

  1. Scenery:  1.5
  2. Difficulty:  2 (physically) or 15 (psychologically)
  3. Length:  5 – 7 miles (different sources list different distances)
  4. Dog Friendliness: 2.5
  5. Convenience:  5
  6. Bonus Funtimes: -10
scenic view

Scenic view on the trail, very representative of our feelings about this trail.

Scenery (2 out of 5):  The trail was pretty basic without any notable views.  For a good chunk of the trek, the trail meandered back and forth near the highway, which although not visible, the rumbling road noise was a serious drawback…  and eventually became a taunting soundtrack, giving us occasional false hope that we were nearing the trail’s end.  A scenic gully boosted the trail’s scenery rating from 1.5 to 2.0, but other than that there wasn’t much happening (aside from a decades-old overturned, rusted out car about 1/3 of the way into the trail).

Difficulty (2 out 5… or 15 out of 5):  While not physically demanding, this trail mentally drained us.  With what must have been 15 million switchbacks and curves, the trail seemed never ending.  The guidebook listed it at 5 miles, but at a hike time of 2.5 hours it’s likely that the trail was actually closer to 7 miles.

Length:  5 – 7 miles

ezra avoiding bridge

Dog Friendliness (2.5 out of 5):  Ezra handled this trail pretty well, despite his aversion to bridges being in full effect.  There were only two small creeks, which made keeping the pup hydrated a little more of a challenge… especially as we approached the 7th mile, when I pulled out my Camelbak to give him a few good drinks (from my hands… not the spout).

Convenience (5 out of 5):  Very easy to get to, but once the trail starts it seems like it will never end.

Bonus Funtimes (-15 out of 5):  The aforementioned sense that the trail would never end sucked any and all fun out of this trek.  If you’re into mountain biking, this might be a better trail for that, but for an average day hike, we suggest popping across the lake and trying out the Volunteer Day Loop Trail.


This hike and others found in 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Nashville, get your own copy now from amazon.com.


Montgomery Bell State Park – Northeast Loop

March 1, 2010 in Tennessee Hiking Trails by amylaree

Montgomery Bell State Park Trail Sign

Hikers & Hiking Pups Only

60 Hikes within 60 Miles took us this weekend to Montgomery Bell State Park’s Northeast Loop.  With the weather finally warming up during this last weekend of February, we opted for a longer trail distance, and the Northeast Loop was a perfect fit.

This trail makes for a good Sunday outing, but you may want to hold off if it’s been raining in previous days.  A lot of creek crossing without many good stepping stones could make for a lot of water in your shoes.  Unless you’re like Nate… and opt for Chaco sandals as hiking shoes.  Trail Rating Summary:

Creech Hollow Lake at Montgomery Bell State Park

Creech Hollow Lake – fishing friendly

  1. Scenery:  2.5
  2. Difficulty:  2.5
  3. Length:  6 miles
  4. Dog Friendliness: 5
  5. Convenience:  2
  6. Bonus Funtimes: 2

Scenery (2.5 out of 5):  This trail has plenty of pretty spots, but lacked the scenic views of many of the other spots we’ve trekked to, even in my novice experience.  While the views were limited, there were still plenty of pretty spots, especially at the beginning and end of the trail.  A brief interlude in a flatter, pine tree patch broke up the moderately hilly scenery with typical Tennessee trees & vegetation.

Difficulty (2.5 out of 5):  There were a few solid hills, but overall the trail wasn’t very difficult.  A fair number of tree roots sticking out on the path caused a few trip ups, but no major spills.  It took us about 2 hours, including a nice rest break, to finish this trail.

Length:  6 miles

Ezra at Montgomery Bell State Park

Ezra contemplating his balance beam skills

Dog Friendliness (5 out of 5):  This is a great trail for dogs.  Plenty of water sources make this an easy trail to keep the pups from overheating.  Ezra also got to play hunting dog for a few seconds before Nate was able to pull him back to the trail from chasing a mystery critter.

Convenience (2 out of 5):  The 45 minute drive time was the only drawback to the convenience of this trail.  Aside from the drive, the roads were good with easy directions to follow.

Bonus Points (2 out of 5): Aside from camping, there wasn’t a lot else going on with this trail. If you’re into fishing, this may be a nice little spot.  We saw several people casting lines at the small lake that we ran into about 4.5 miles into the hike.  This lake, Creech Hollow, made a nice spot to rest up on some tree logs towards the end of the lake.  Also in the area was a golf course that we walked next to for a few minutes, sadly without seeing any golfers in audacious pants.  The state’s site lists additional activities at Montgomery Bell State Park.

Catfish Kitchen near Montgomery Bell State Park

Catfish Kitchen. Great Hush Puppies. Awesome Signage.

But the trail gets the biggest bonus points for our post-hike lunch at the Twin Lakes Catfish Kitchen, renowned for its contribution to enormous catfish statues. We dropped by mid-afternoon so there wasn’t much of a crowd, but our waitress was immensely personable and the entire place reminded me much of the small town cafes in my grandparents’ hometowns. If you choose to drop by, bring your appetite. The Catfish Kitchen is more than generous with sides, especially homemade hush puppies.  And as an added bonus, the waitress, who couldn’t have been older than 21, said, “I’m old fashion, so this is for you,” and handed Nate the bill.





This hike and others found in 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Nashville and Hiking Tennessee, get your own copy now from amazon.com.

Volunteer Day Loop Trail at Long Hunter State Park

February 21, 2010 in Tennessee Hiking Trails by amylaree

Shady Trail at Long Hunter State Park

Shady spots along Percy Priest Lake

Our afternoon at Long Hunter State Park was well-timed with a rogue February spring day full of sunshine and 65 degree weather. The Volunteer Day Loop Trail, which skims along the shoreline of Percy Priest Lake, surprised us with plenty of scenic lake views and benches at all the right stops that invited us to sit and plot out summer picnicking and kayaking excursions. Trail Rating Summary:

  1. Scenery: 3.0
  2. Difficulty: 1.0
  3. Length: 4.0 miles
  4. Convenience: 4.0
  5. Dog Friendliness: 5.0
  6. Bonus Funtimes: 4.0


Trail Map:


Volunteer Trail at Long Hunter State Park

Volunteer Trail at Long Hunter State Park

Scenery (3 out of 5): Lakeviews dominate the scenery of this trail, so much so that we ventured off trail to walk along the shore for a good part of our hike. When on the trail, the trees provided the promise of plenty of green once spring rolls around. These leafy trees also make this a great year-round trail, plenty of shade to help keep things cool when the oppressive nature of July and August roll around.

Difficulty (1 out of 5):  This trail had a few small climbs, but nothing that made either of us break a sweat.

Length:  4 miles

Convenience (4 out of 5):  An easy drive from East Nashville, it took us about 25 minutes to reach the trail parking lot… including a speedy exit from the Mount Juliet exit on 40, an overwhelming area that Nate refers to as Consumerism Mecca.  Once out of that area, the highway makes an ideal strip for a Sunday afternoon drive.

Dog Friendliness (5 out of 5):  Plenty of watering holes and streams kept the pup well hydrated and the ease of trails made it an ideal area for him to try to drag us along.

bluff views at Long Hunter State Park

Bonus Funtimes (4 out of 5):  Perhaps the biggest surprise on this hike was discovering all the great options this area has to offer.  Whether you want an afternoon on the beach or prefer to swim in shaded coves, this trail provides easy access to both.  And if you’re into fishing, there were plenty of people casting lines.  This trail also links in with a longer trail for overnight camping and when the 4th of July rolls around, there are plenty of spots to set up a picnic and watch fireworks from Nashville Shores and the surrounding areas.  Plus, as an added bonus, once temperatures warm up, Long Hunter and Percy Priest Lake will make a great spot for me to test the waters when Nate attempts to teach me how to kayak.

(note: forgot to bring my camera on this trail, so these are pics i swiped from the webernet.)


This hike and others found in 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Nashville, get your own copy now from amazon.com.

Trail Rating Criteria

February 20, 2010 in Tips & Recommendations by amylaree

Guidebooks provide readers with pretty good overviews of the trails, but sometimes they miss a few things, so this blog is here to highlight some trail aspects that we think are worthwhile.

Ratings are based out of a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 = Lameville and 5 = Awesometown.

    1. Scenery:  Views, special features and whatnots.
    2. Difficulty:  Noting any especially difficult spots or issues.
    3. Length:  mileage

Ezra O. Avid hiker, keen human walker, master territory marker.

  1. Ezrability (the Dog Friendly Factor): As a dog owner, I’ve also found that certain trails are much more dog friendly than others, which we learned the hard way after an my 90 lb mutt, Ezra, had a solid freakout session in the middle of a suspension bridge at Fall Creek Falls.  Ezrability rates the dog friendliness of trails and highlights any notable features or problems.
  2. Convenience:  Based on distance from Nashville, TN and highlighting any issues with roads or directions.
  3. Bonus Funtimes:  Extra good times, activities & good eats that are along the way.