Climb Nashville (Article 7)
By Kyle Dickerson
Over the last few weeks we’ve taken a look at some wonderful places to get out and get active in Middle Tennessee. Opportunities abound around the mid-state area for residents to enjoy the scenic outdoors, explore their adventurous side, and stay healthy while doing so. From mountain biking to camping, hiking to Frisbee golf, there’s something for everyone, young and old.
But what happens if you head out the door, only to find the skies have clouded over and rain is just beginning to fall? Well, we have you covered...literally. There is one place near the heart of Nashville where the adrenaline never stops, come rain or shine. And if adventure is in your blood, then Climb Nashville is the place for you.
With over 12,000 square feet of climbing surface available, Climb Nashville weighs in as the largest indoor rock climbing gym in Middle Tennessee. They offer a variety of climbing options, including traditional climbing, bouldering, and lead climbing for those certified to do so. And their experienced staff takes much pride in handcrafting climbing routes that are challenging, unique, and fun.
For many people, the thought of entering such a place, where learned athletes scale the walls with honed precision, is quite intimidating. At Climb Nashville, it’s just the opposite. With athletes of every caliber, from first-timers to seasoned pros, this gym welcomes anyone and everyone looking for a good time and new experience. The friendly staff enjoys teaching new climbers, and introducing them to the sport, just as much as they do watching the veterans achieve new goals and further their talent. There is never a lack of expertise in the gym, and most climbers are willing to help out with advice and guidance if someone is in need.
Out of all the activities we’ve explored in the last few weeks, rock climbing has a higher potential for danger than most. That’s why the folks at Climb Nashville take every precaution to insure your climbing experience will be the best, and safest, you’ve ever had. All climbers must go through a simple basic safety course before hitting the walls, covering the do’s and don’ts of responsible climbing. It takes very little time away from your day in the gym, but equips you with both the tools for safe and fun climbing, as well as the confidence to use them. And don’t worry about gear. Everything you need, from a harness to shoes, is available for rent in-house.
For more information on hours, rates, and special group deals, check out the Climb Nashville website at climbnashville.com.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these last few weeks, and that you’ve been introduced to some opportunities you might not have known were waiting for you. As the warmer months roll on, we hope to see you out on the trails, in the parks, and at the gyms, enjoying what our wonderful state has to offer. Take care of each other and help protect the beauty of Tennessee for the generations behind us. And, as always, BE SAFE!
Centennial Park (Article 6)
By Kyle Dickerson
From live music to some of the best southern cooking around, there are certain things one expects to find in Music City. But one historic Nashville fixture continues to shock some over one hundred years after its construction. Resting in the heart of the city, a full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon stands as the centerpiece of Centennial Park, and offers younger generations a glimpse into the history that is MIddle Tennessee.
Originally farmland, the 132 acre park served as the site for the 1897 Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition. Most of the buildings and structures were dismantled shortly after - with exception of the Parthenon - leaving a well-landscaped area full of possibilities. Over the years, the park has seen many improvements, including multiple renovations of the still-standing Greek structure.
Some of the original features, including a manmade pond, sunken gardens, and bandshell, are still in use today. The addition of a one-mile paved walking trail, playground, dog park, and picnic areas has made this park a venue with options for all ages. Any day of the week, and especially on weekends, you’ll find children lining the pond, throwing bread to the ducks who call it home. The large open field, stretching out before the Parthenon, plays host to games of touch football and ultimate frisbee, and offers the perfect setting for a quiet afternoon on a blanket with one’s sweetheart.
From cultural to arts and crafts, Centennial park welcomes an array of festivals throughout the year, many open free of admission to the general public. Also taking advantage of the unique venue, several acting troupes use the Parthenon replica and its internal statue of Pallas Athena as the backdrop for many theatrical performances. Most widely known, Shakespeare in the Park is only one of numerous performances throughout the summer months available to residents for a fun, yet inexpensive, night out.
With any outdoor activities, safety is always an issue. However, taking those activities into a more urban environment changes the look of safety somewhat. As Centennial Park is a heavily used venue all year, sometimes the walking trail, playground, and picnic areas can become quite populated. In the grass field area, fast-paced games can sometimes slip out of their intended space, as well. And with a series of connecting roads offering vehicle access from multiple points, safety issues can come from any angle. While none of these are reasons to be overly concerned, we always urge you to remain mindful of your surroundings. Doing so will keep your experience, and that of those around you, more enjoyable and enriching.
Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to relax in the shade on your lunch break, a unique date night to impress that special someone, or a place to exercise amid the flowers and by the tranquil pond, we hope that you’ll visit Centennial Park and enjoy the beauty and fun it has to offer.
Percy Warner Park (Article 5)
By Kyle Dickerson
If you have ever spent time in a used book store then you probably understand what it means to be overwhelmed. There are volumes upon volumes of literature stacked in haphazard fashion, usually, with very little semblance of order or direction. Of course, this isn’t always the case, but for the purpose of this passage we’ll overlook those shops who take pride in organization. Then, amid the chaos and clutter, your eyes catch sight of a thin spine hiding between its peers. It’s what you’ve been looking for. It was there the whole time, but you were unaware of it amid all the confusion. It’s a wonderful feeling to find those gems in our lives, and Percy Warner Park, just 9 miles South of downtown Nashville, is one such gem worth seeking out.
Situated in the community of Belle Meade, Percy Warner Park and its adjacent counterpart, Edwin Warner Park, rest on land donated in the 20’s by the Lea Family. The parks are named for Mrs. Lea’s father, Percy, and uncle, Edwin, and have been part of the National Register of Historical Places since 1984.
One of the most memorable and striking features of Percy Warner is the entrance from Belle Meade Boulevard. A vast staircase of stone, built into the hillside and stretching up into the tree line, welcomes patrons to the park, giving them access to hiking trails, scenic overlooks, and picnic areas. A family-friendly park, Percy Warner also offers open field areas for recreation and sports. The park is equipped with equestrian trails and a steeplechase course, and plays host to the annual Iroquois Steeplechase each May. A golf course, two cross-country running areas, and plenty of paved roads for cycling round out the numerous opportunities made available by the park. And for those wishing to experience the park’s beauty in all weather conditions, the paved one-way roads are open to vehicle use and are accessible from multiple points, including Belle Meade Boulevard and Highway 100.
When participating in any physical activity, especially in the outdoors, hydration is a key factor to staying safe, promoting efficient body performance, and remaining comfortable during exercise. Many athletes believe the myth that they should only take in fluids when they feel thirsty. In order to keep your body temperature regulated, help lubricate joints, and reduce stress on your heart, fluids should be consumed throughout the duration of your exercise, whether thirst appears to be a factor or not. However, keep in mind that drinking large quantities of fluid at once is not recommended and you are urged to space out your consumption.
Whether you’re a cyclist looking for the challenge of climbing hills, a family searching for a place to picnic and enjoy time together, an equestrian rider wishing to see more of the beauty of Middle Tennessee, or someone looking for a scenic drive on a Sunday afternoon, we hope you’ll visit Percy Warner Park and enjoy all of its wonderful possibilities.
Montgomery Bell State Park
By Kyle Dickerson
Thanks for coming along with us as we are taking a few weeks to explore some of the great parks, trails, and attractions across Middle Tennessee. We’ve looked at some wonderful spots for day trips, including places that are family-friendly, as well as those catering to the more competitive athlete and trainer. We’re shifting gears this week. No, not the ones on your bike...though you could bring it along. This week we’re slowing down. In a time where our schedules demand much of us, day trips have become a more popular and feasible means of getting away. But what about those looking for something just a bit longer? An overnight trip, maybe? Well, we may have just the thing.
45 minutes West of Nashville rests Montgomery Bell State Park. Once the site for mining operations securing iron ore from the mineral-rich landscape, the area is now used year-round for fun and relaxation of many types. From swimming to biking, boating to golfing, or just relaxing in the cozy inn, people come from all around to take in what the park has to offer.
One of the most unique features of the park is its overnight hiking trail. With a total distance of nearly 12 miles, the overnight backcountry trail is open all year in all weather. The catch is that no tent camping is allowed on this trail. Then where do we stay? Well, that’s all part of the fun. Along the length of the overnight trail are three shelters constructed for use by hikers who intend to spend the night. Very primitively built, these shelters consist of wooden racks, similar to bunk beds, and remain open to the elements. You’ll need a sleeping bag, food for the night, and a camper’s stove if your food needs to be warmed or cooked. A flashlight is always useful, and rain gear is also wise to have. While your bed at home may be more comfortable, the connection with nature such an experience affords is worth the trade off.
A few things to remember while on the trails are that no plants or animals can be harvested or removed from the park, though nuts, berries, and fruits may be picked for personal consumption. Also, the park asks that anything taken in by hikers be brought back out, as well. There are springs and creeks throughout the park, but the water from these must be purified before drinking. This can be done with purification tablets or by boiling the water on your camper’s stove. And finally, remember to respect the beauty and nature of the park. Keep it that way for the next hiker to enjoy. It may be enough to change their life.
If you’re thinking of taking an overnight hike, chances are you already own a sleeping bag. If not, here are a few things to keep in mind when picking one out. Look for a bag that’s rated for a temperature under what you expect to experience on your overnight stay. If nights get warmer, you can always vent the bag to allow for circulation and comfort. Also, backpacking bags are generally smaller and weigh less, giving you less to pack in on your hike. Finally, the use of a sleeping pad between your bag and the ground will help with insulation while you sleep.
If you decide to check out the Montgomery Bell overnight trail - and we hope you will - stop by the park office to pick up a permit to stay in one of the three shelters. For directions, a more detailed list of rules, and other activities at the park, visit http://state.tn.us/environment/parks/MontgomeryBell/
As always, be safe and enjoy Middle Tennessee
Natchez Trace (Article 3)
By Kyle Dickerson
It’s our third week, here at Nashville Newzine, of taking a look at some of the wonderful outdoor experiences Middle Tennessee has to offer. In our first two installments we looked at venues that are available for a variety of activities, including cycling, running, and frisbee. And while both of those areas appeal to the senses of nature lovers and families alike, maybe it’s a more secluded escape, away from the bustle of town, that you’re seeking.
Just outside of Nashville, Natchez Trace begins its winding trail down into Mississippi. What once was a literal trail, traveled by foot and wagon, is now taken in each year by thousands motoring up and down the scenic parkway. With museums, Ranger-guided tours and activities, and even trails to accommodate those with horses, it’s hard not to find something you’ll enjoy.
One of the more widely used features is the network of hiking trails. Following along parallel with the parkway, these trails climb up through the hills and down deep into the creek bottoms. Hikers are able to see the beauty of the flowing grass fields and enjoy the solemn majesty of the hardwood forests. The trails vary in difficulty level - none in what would be considered expert - but we find these variations are mainly due to length and elevation changes. All the trails are safe for family use, and are able to be navigated by hikers of all experience levels.
A good starting point for those coming from Nashville is Burns Branch. Located in the Leiper’s Fork area, it offers paved parking, a picnic area, and paths leading out in both directions from the trailhead. A good central area, Burns Branch allows the hiker a couple of options on trail length and difficulty. Keep in mind that these trails are not loops. That means however far you hike out is how far you have to hike back...unless you can talk a friend into picking you up or dropping you off.
Before setting out for your hike, take a moment to think about your options for footwear. Many modern hikers have switched from their old above-the-ankle boots to low-top hiking shoes. With advances in tread and sole design, these shoes have been a welcomed change for those in hotter climates. However, what they offer in comfort, they lack in ankle support...an area the boot cannot be beat in. Does this mean low-top hikers shouldn’t be used? Absolutely not. It simply means you should take even greater caution when negotiating rocks, slippery surfaces, or ascending and descending steep terrain if low-tops are what you prefer. Remember to wear something with a closed toe, weather-resistant, if possible, and no slick soles. You’ll want something with a little grip to help you along the way.
For more information about Natchez Trace Parkway, visit www.nps.gov/natr. You can download maps, view schedules for structured activities, and find a list of applicable rules and laws to help provide you with an enjoyable experience while visiting the Trace. As always, we want everyone to be safe. We encourage hiking in pairs or groups, but if solo is more your thing, please alert someone as to where you’ll be and set up a time for checking back in at the end of your day. Happy hiking!
Crockett Park (Article 2)
By Kyle Dickerson
Last week we started a new series of articles focused on some of the outdoor opportunities available around Middle Tennessee. We began our journey by exploring the possibilities at Chickasaw Trace, a secluded park and riding trail outside of Columbia, TN. This week we continue our journey by visiting another site closer to Nashville. A site thousands drive by each day, but some may not know is there.
On the southern outskirts of Brentwood, TN rests a quite sizable park with a variety of fun outdoor opportunities. Crockett Park, located off the Concord Road exit on I-65, plays host to an array of possibilities so vast that there is literally something for everyone.
With over 160 acres, Crockett Park is Brentwood’s largest outdoor venue. Rolling meadows give plenty of open space for families to play, enjoy picnics, or relax under the warm Spring sun. There are multiple maintained sports fields, baseball diamonds, and tennis courts used by many local sports organizations, as well. And for those wishing to take a run, jump on their bike, strap on the rollerblades, or just enjoy an afternoon walk, Crockett Park offers a paved trail which is heavily traveled and connects with the River Park trail, ending at the Concord Road YMCA. Emergency call boxes have been established at several points along the trail, but always use caution and let someone know where you are if you’re choosing to use the trail alone.
If you’re looking for a little competition, the park holds that, as well. A full frisbee-golf course has been built to completion at Crockett Park and is open to the public for use. While it takes a small investment to get started - a couple of frisbees - the game is one many people in the area love to play. And if you’re unsure what you’re doing, just ask. The other players are always willing to lend a hand and impart some of their wisdom toward the game.
When taking to the trails, make sure you’re wearing proper foot attire. Closed-toe shoes are always recommended for both running and biking, due to the ease of injury from other footwear. When choosing a running shoe, take care in assuring the shoe is not too small for your foot. An incorrectly sized shoe can cause many problems, including blisters, numbness, and black toenails. Most experts suggest running in a shoe 1/2 size larger than you normally wear. This is to allow for foot swelling as you run.
Whether it’s a brisk run for the true trainer, a picnic with the kids, or a place to hold sports practices, Crockett Park has the amenities you seek. Home to the summer Concert in the Park Series, as well as the city’s Fourth of July celebration, this venue continues to abound with possibilities. Come visit and see what it has to offer for you.
Chickasaw Trace (Article 1)
By Kyle Dickerson
With warmer days upon us, many in Middle Tennessee are taking to the outdoors. After months of being forced inside our homes by one of the harshest winters in years, many Tennesseans are aching for the chance to stretch their legs and enjoy the natural beauty our state has to offer. The problem for some is that they have little knowledge as to what outdoor activities are available in Middle Tennessee and where they can go to enjoy them. Over the next several weeks, Nashville Newzine will be giving you a guide to Tennessee’s outdoors. With insight into local venues, suggestions for activities and sports, and helpful tips to keep you safe and efficient, we hope to bring you closer to new experiences and the chance to see Tennessee in ways you might not have thought possible.
A sport that has taken on great interest over the last several years is mountain biking. Within the state, there are multiple maintained trails for public use, as well as miles of private track built on farms and family lands. Off-road triathlons have become more popular within the MTB circuit and are offered at several of these locations across the state. One such place is Chickasaw Trace in Columbia, TN.
About a 45 minute drive south from Nashville, Chickasaw Trace is home to the Columbia Cycling Club. While they focus much of their attention on road cycling, their pride and joy is the 8+ mile single track mountain bike course that was built, and is maintained, completely by volunteer efforts. The trail winds through the woods near the Duck River, giving wonderful cliffside views of the water, and high on the hills through large fields of flowing grass. While the course is technical in some spots - meaning it takes some advanced skill to navigate - the trail as a whole is novice-friendly and negotiable by all skill levels.
There’s much to see while riding at Chickasaw. It’s not unusual to see wildlife in the trail or watching from the safety of the woods. Should that be the case, we urge you not to interact with the wildlife...other than taking pictures. Because while they may look cute and appear friendly, many times interactions are anything but. We want everyone, you and the animals, to remain safe at all times. And should you need a hand changing a tire or help finding a short cut back to your vehicle, you’re in luck. Chickasaw is a heavily used trail, especially on weekends, and is also a complete loop trail. You’ll see plenty of other riders and runners, all of whom are more than happy to lend a hand where needed.
If you would like to experience Chickasaw Trace and the beauty it has to offer, visit www.columbiacyclingclub.com for directions, trail maps, and information on upcoming events and competitions, such as the 15K Trail Run and MTB Classic being held this month. Above all, enjoy the time outside, be kind to the trail and those using it, and BE SAFE. Happy riding!