Nashville is best known as the capital of country music, but located in the Cumberland River Valley surrounded by hills of the Highland Rim, the middle Tennessee city is also home to a great variety of hiking trails. With new hikes and updated maps, trailhead directions, and photos, the new edition of 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Nashville by veteran Tennessee outdoorsman Johnny Molloy gives outdoor enthusiasts plenty of hikes to choose from. From historical hikes such as the Gordon House and Ferry Site Walk and the Confederate Earthworks Walk to great recreational trails like the Anderson Fitness Trail and the Couchville Lake Loop, hikers of all ages and fitness levels will find a trail to their liking within a short drive from home.
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About the Author
Johnny Molloy is a writer and adventurer based in Johnson City, Tennessee. He has written more than 40 books about the outdoors, including hiking, camping, and paddling guidebooks; comprehensive guidebooks about specific areas; and true outdoor adventure books set throughout the Eastern United States. Molloy writes for various magazines and websites, and he is a columnist and feature writer for his local paper, the Johnson City Press.
Read an Excerpt
OLD HICKORY LAKE NATURE TRAIL
- DISTANCE AND CONFIGURATION: 1.5-mile triple loop
- DIFFICULTY: Easy
- SCENERY: Pine and hardwood forest, willow swamp, pond
- EXPOSURE: Nearly all shady
- TRAFFIC: Some
- TRAIL SURFACE: Asphalt, pine needles, boardwalks
- HIKING TIME: 1 hour
- ACCESS: No fees or permits required
- MAPS: USGS Goodlettsville; at trailhead
- PETS: On leash only
- FACILITIES: Restrooms at nearby swim beach
- CONTACT: 615-736-7161; www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Locations/Lakes/Old HickoryLake/Recreation/Trails.aspx
- LOCATION: Old Hickory
This easy walk, suitable for young children, uses a combination of three miniloops to explore the woods near Old Hickory Lake Dam. The loops traverse pine woods and go over boardwalks, culminating in a trip to a pond with a viewing platform.
This trail is actually part of the Nashville Greenway system, though only a portion of the path is paved. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built it in the mid-1970s. The mounds you see in the area are part of the dredging material left from the erection of nearby Old Hickory Dam, which was finished in 1954. The forest has reclaimed the area, with the help of some loblolly pines planted in the 1960s.
The loblolly pine is not native to Middle Tennessee (it grows in a belt from east Texas to Florida and north to eastern Virginia) and is among the fastest-growing Southern pines. The pine’s rapid growth makes it popular for planting and cultivation for pulpwood and lumber. Even by pine standards, the loblolly has especially fragrant needles.
The manner in which nature repairs itself is called plant succession. For example, an area is cleared and then covered with fill. Later, plants that thrive in the sun, such as blackberries, begin to grow. These species provide shade for young plants and trees that can’t tolerate open sun. The trees then grow and ultimately return the forest to its former state.
Leave the parking area and soon enter Woodland Loop. Circle through loblolly pines, passing beneath a power line. A viewing blind is to your left. Quietly head over to the fence and peer through the boards, where a deer or squirrel may be stirring. Reach a long boardwalk that winds over a wetland. To protect them from drainage and development, wetlands have come under increasing protection over the years. Wetlands are natural filters for water as it seeps into the earth, and also foster wildlife and insects, especially mosquitoes.
Leave the Woodland Loop at 0.4 mile, near the main paved path. Return to the woods, now on the Willow Swamp Loop. Soon reach another boardwalk. Willow trees thrive where drainage is poor, claiming their special niche in the web of life. Sycamore trees also grow along the wetter margins. In summer, the swamp emits the pungent odor of decay.
Return to the paved part of the trail, but soon turn away on the Wildlife Loop. This trail curves beneath the tall pinesnotice the blackened trunks of trees here. Low-level, low-intensity forest fires often sweep through pine woods. To thrive and ultimately survive, a pine forest needs periodic fire. Some species of pine, such as Florida’s sand pine, need fire to open their cones.
Soon you’ll emerge at a pond, where a little viewing platform allows you to peer into the water. Life at the pond varies season to season. During winter, a time of hibernation, frogs and turtles lie buried in the soil beneath the pond, and toads, snakes, and salamanders will be under old stumps and logs. Spring, though, is much more alive. Birds are singing. Ducks may be swimming. Turtles are out, enjoying the sun atop old logs. In summer, the pond may be abuzz with dragonflies chasing mosquitoes. If you come here in the evening, crickets by the thousands will be humming in harmony, and lightning bugs will be flickering off and on. Fall is when the pond will be at its lowest. Decaying leaves will be floating on the surface, later to enhance the nutrients of the pond. And marsh plants around the pond move in as the water shallows.
Follow the paved path from the viewing platform to the main paved Nature Corridor. If you go to the right, the trail soon dead-ends, but you can circle the pond on an informal path. To the left, the paved trail leads through the woods past more wetlands. Enjoy this last relaxing stroll before reaching the trailhead.
Old Hickory Beach is open in the warm season, is a year-round boat launch, and has picnic areas and a playground. For more information, call 615-822-4846.
GPS TRAILHEAD COORDINATES
N36° 17.708' W86° 39.413'
From Exit 92 on I-65, north of downtown Nashville, take TN 45 4 miles east to Robin- son Road, which is just after the bridge crossing the Cumberland River. Turn left on Bridgeway Avenue and follow it 0.5 mile to Swinging Bridge Road. Turn left on Swing- ing Bridge Road and follow it 1.2 miles to Cinder Road. Turn right on Cinder Road and follow it 0.8 mile to reach Old Hickory Lake. Turn left at the sign for Old Hickory Lake Nature Trail, which will be on your left at 0.4 mile.
Table of Contents
60 Hikes by Category xii
1 Beits Bend Loop 14
2 Bryant Grove Trail 18
3 Couchvilte Lake Trail 21
4 Ganier Ridge Loop 24
5 Harpeth Woods Trail 27
6 Jones Mill Trail 30
7 MetroCenter Levee Greenway 33
8 Mill Creek Greenway 36
9 Mossy Ridge Trail 39
10 Old Hickory Lake Nature Trail 42
11 Peeler Park Hike 45
12 Richland Creek Greenway: McCabe Loop 49
13 Shelby Bottoms Nature Park: East Loop 53
14 Shelby Bottoms Nature Park: West Loop 57
15 South Radnor Lake Loop 61
16 Stones River Greenway of Nashville 65
17 Volunteer-Day Loop 68
18 Warner Woods Trail 71
West (including Ashland City, Clarksville, and Dickson) 74
19 Confederate Earthworks Walk 76
20 Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail 79
21 Dunbar Cave State Natural Park Loop 83
22 Fort Donelson Battlefield Loop 86
23 Henry Hollow Loop 90
24 Hidden Lake Double Loop 93
25 Johnsonville State Historic Park Loop 96
26 Montgomery Bell Northeast Loop 100
27 Montgomery Bell Southwest Loop 103
28 Narrowsof Harpeth Hike 107
29 Nathan Bedford Forrest Five-Mile Trail 110
30 Ridgetop Trail at Beaman Park 113
Southwest (including Columbia, Fairview, and Franklin) 116
31 Devil's Backbone Loop 118
32 Gordon House and Ferry Site Walk 121
33 Heritage Park/Thompson's Station Park Hike 125
34 Lakes of Bowie Loop 128
35 Meriwether Lewis Loop 132
36 Old Trace-Garrison Creek Loop 136
37 Perimeter Trail 139
Southeast (including Brentwood, Murfreesboro, and Smyrna) 142
38 Adeline Wilhoite River Trail 144
39 Brenthaven Bikeway Connector 148
40 Cheeks Bend Bluff View Trail 151
41 Flat Rock Cedar Glades and Barrens Hike 155
42 Hickory Ridge Trail 159
43 Old Mill Trail 163
44 Old Stone Fort Loop 166
45 Short Springs State Natural Area Hike 170
46 Smith Park Hike 174
47 Stones River Greenway of Murfreesboro 178
48 Stones River National Battlefield Loop 181
49 Twin Forks Trail 184
50 Wild Turkey Trail 188
East (including Gallatin, Hendersonville, Lebanon, and Mount Juliet) 192
51 Bearwaller Gap Hiking Trail 194
52 Bledsoe Creek State Park Loop 198
53 Cedar Forest Trail 201
Collins River Nature Trail 205
54 Eagle Trail 209
55 Edgar Evins State Park Hike 212
57 Hidden Springs Trail 215
58 Sellars Farm State Archaeological Area 218
59 Vesta Glade Trail 222
60 Wilderness Trail 226
Appendix A Outdoor Shops 230
Appendix B Places to Buy Maps 230
Appendix C Hiking Clubs 231
About the Author 237