5 Reasons Why Nashville is a Great City for Outdoor Recreation

5 Reasons Why Nashville is a Great City for Outdoor Recreation

According to one recent study, Nashville ranked just 29th among the 50 largest cities in the United States for recreation opportunities. While it’s no surprise that peer cities like Denver and Portland ranked ahead of Nashville, it did come as a bit of a shock that Nashville was ranked behind cities not necessarily known for their outdoor and recreation cultures, including Cleveland, Detroit and Kansas City. It should be noted that the study used certain metrics like public beaches per capita, which might put Nashville at a disadvantage (and cities like San Diego at a clear advantage), but factors like music venues per capita were also taken into consideration, which would definitely help to give Nashville a boost relative to other metro areas around the country.

While Nashville certainly has plenty of room to improve in many ways, especially when it comes to things like creating more access points to utilize the Cumberland River as a recreational asset, Davidson County continues to make great strides towards being a regionally- and nationally-recognized recreation hub. Here’s a list of our top 5 reasons why Nashville is a great city to get outdoors and be active:

1. The Greenway System

Whether you’re a walker, a runner, a cyclist, a rollerblader, or just about anything else, Nashville’s greenway system is a great resource for local outdoor recreation. If you’re not familiar with them, greenways are “linear parks and trails that connect neighborhoods to schools, shopping areas, downtown, offices, recreation areas, open spaces and other points of activity,” and are “often located along natural landscape features like streams, rivers and ridges, or along built features, such as railroad corridors and scenic highways,” according to Greenways for Nashville. With more than 65 miles of greenway trails in Davidson county, it’s no surprise that upwards of 90 percent of Nashvillians live within 2 miles of a greenway access point. The best part? They’re completely free and open year-round!

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Nashville has a TON of greenways with great natural and manmade features, including this pedestrian bridge over the Cumberland River, connecting the Stones River Greenway to the Shelby Bottoms Greenway in East Nashville. Photo cred: Greenways for Nashville.

2. Great Local Parks

Nashville is fortunate to have access to an abundance of high-quality parks. Ask anyone around town where their go-to place to get outdoors is, and you’re sure to hear a lot of the same answers. Percy Warner Park, Radnor Lake State Natural Area, and Centennial Park (and Sportsplex) are all common favorites among locals, providing space for walking, running, hiking, festivals and races, and other beloved community events. Places like Bells Bend Park and Cane Ridge Park (in addition to Warner Park) offer access to mountain biking trails, and dozens of other parks across the county feature everything from tennis courts and golf courses to baseball diamonds and basketball courts, providing recreational outlets for just about anyone. In total, Nashville has 108 parks and 19 greenways, adding up to more than 12,000 acres of accessible open space around town. Current projects like the renovation of Riverfront Park on both the east and west banks of the Cumberland continue to add park-based amenities to Nashville, with features like a dog park, river access, and a 6,500 seat amphitheater soon to be open for use.

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Centennial Park is always bustling for Nashville’s annual Earth Day Festival, one of our favorite community events to partner with every year!

3. Tons of Local Waterways

For a landlocked city, Nashville has access to a plethora of water-based recreational opportunities. If you’ve spent even one summer living here, you know that it gets HOT, so taking some time to get out on a lake or river is key to keeping cool. Whether your activity of choice is grabbing a canoe and floating one of Middle Tennessee’s scenic rivers, like the Harpeth or Caney Fork, or hopping in a boat and spending a day on Percy Priest or Center Hill Lake, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy the water in Nashville. Other opportunities include plenty of fishing and swimming, a growing stand up paddle board culture, and Nashville’s annual Dragon Boat Festival on the Cumberland River (seriously, check it out if you never have – it’s a blast! Here are some pictures from when we raced in it last year.).

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This small waterfall at the Narrows of the Harpeth is a great place to cool off on a hot summer day!

4. Our Growing Cycling Community

Did you know that Nashville is one of only 18 cities in the United States with a population of 500,000 or more to be recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a Bicycle Friendly Community? Over the last decade, Nashville has made a ton of progress in becoming a safer city for cyclists of both the commuting and recreational variety. Nashville has more than 140 miles of designated bikeways across the county, including the 26-mile long Music City Bikeway, which links Percy Warner Park on the west side of town to Percy Priest Dam on the east side. Nashville has also invested heavily in its BCycle bikeshare program, providing affordable access to bikes for both residents and tourists in the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods. The BCycle system currently features 25 stations and 225 bikes, with plans for five more stations to be installed in 2015. In the two short years since the program’s inception, more than 50,000 BCycles have been checked out!

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Check it out! We sponsor multiple BCycle stations across the county, including this one on Rolling Mill Hill just south of downtown.

5. Our Close Proximity to Nearby Recreation Opportunities

If the outdoor amenities in Nashville proper aren’t enough to keep you busy year-round, then it’s fortunate that Nashville also happens to be surrounded by incredible outdoor and recreational opportunities that are just a short day trip away! Within a 2-hour drive are plenty of world-class rock climbing destinations, including King’s Bluff in Clarksville and T-Wall and Foster Falls near Chattanooga. There’s also an endless number of nearby backpacking and hiking trails that make great weekend getaways, including the Cumberland Trail System, Savage Gulf State Natural Area, and Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Nashville is also the end point of the historic Natchez Trace Parkway, and is just a few short hours from sections of the Appalachian Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the thrilling whitewater of the Ocoee River. Seriously, there are so many recreational resources in close proximity to Middle Tennessee that there’s no way they can all be covered here, so you’ll just have to do some exploring yourself!

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King’s Bluff, one of our favorite local climbing destinations (fall 2014).

Itching to get active in Nashville? Join us for one of our upcoming trips! We’re heading to Frozen Head State Park on Saturday, January 31st for a backpacking trip, and we’ll be at Climb Nashville for Indoor Rock Climbing every Tuesday now through the end of March!

– Matt (Team Green’s Event Coordinator)

Our 20 Best Adventure Photos of 2014

Our 20 Best Adventure Photos of 2014

The end of the year always gets us feeling a little nostalgic about the last 12 months of adventures, and this year is no exception! From the slopes of Breckenridge to the rolling hills of the Smokies, and the beaches of Georgia to the banks of our own Harpeth River, 2014 has been a year of incredible trips. Even if you couldn’t make it on any of our excursions this year, we hope you’ll enjoy living vicariously through our best pictures from the last year of travels near and far! Here are a few of our favorites:

January 9th – Breckenridge is one of our most-beloved ski destinations, and this view of the valley with the ski slope in the foreground is but one reminder of how beautiful a place this really is.

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January 25th – Though it was a little chilly for an overnight backpacking trip, our group didn’t mind, catching this up-close view of one of the partially-frozen falls along the Laurel Snow trail in east Tennessee.

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April 24th – In our first season, our GoKickball team came in 2nd in the league! Definitely one of the most fun things we’ve done this year, this weekly social (read: beer) kickball league always gave us something to look forward to spring through fall. We can’t wait to get back out there next year!

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May 17th – One of our favorite annual trips, LeConte Lodge is a place that is truly unlike any other. The hike up was incredible, and the view from our cabin porch wasn’t bad either. Notice the clouds below us in the distance!

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June 21st – Ready to fly! Hang Gliding at Lookout Mountain is another of our favorite annual trips, giving us the opportunity to soar above the clouds (or through the clear, sunny sky) outside Chattanooga.

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July 2nd – Our Engage Green workshop series, in partnership with Urban Green Lab, gave us the chance to make some delicious meals like this one while focusing on sustainability. Pictured here is a vibrantly-colored gazpacho recipe prepared by local chef Shane Kelly using only seasonal ingredients from a nearby CSA.

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July 20th – It’s always a pleasure to take a day trip down the Natchez Trace to visit Bernie Ellis at Trace View Farm. His organically-grown blueberries are arguably the most delicious things ever, and at $10/pound, you can’t beat it!

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July 25th – One of four summer stand-up paddleboard sessions with Nashville Paddle Company, our sunset paddle might have been our favorite. Paddling around the coves at Percy Priest was an incredible way to wind down the work week, with some of us even deciding to add a little yoga in for good measure!

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August 9th – The low-lying fog made our summer whitewater kayaking trip along the Hiwassee River that much cooler, casting an eerie haze over much of the trip. What a great weekend on the river!

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August 26th – Butterflies love canoe floats (and cold beverages) just as much as we do! Our summer river cleanups give us a great excuse to get out on the water while doing our part to help keep our favorite adventure spots pristine. We pulled 17 tires and more than a dozen bags of trash out of the river on this float alone, one of three this summer!

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September 6th – Nashville’s Dragon Boat Festival is one of the most unique annual celebrations in Music City, featuring more than 40 teams competing in a series of races to be crowned the champion of the Cumberland. Not only do teams get to have a blast wearing costumes and being generally ridiculous, everyone gets to feel good about raising money to help protect and improve the Cumberland River, as this is the Cumberland River Compact‘s largest fundraiser of the year!

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September 27th – King’s Bluff offers tons of great climbing routes for everyone from true beginners to experts, and is made even more appealing by the fact that it’s less than an hour from Nashville! Our late-September trip, guided by the pros at Climb Nashville, allowed us to catch the beginnings of some fall colors this year!

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September 28th – What a group! Our volunteer events are some of the most rewarding experiences we have all year, and our fall build day with Habitat for Humanity of Williamson County was no different. We partnered with the Nashville Jr. Predators team to do a Day 2 build here, installing windows and doors and adding exterior insulation to this home in Franklin.

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October 3rd – The sunsets on Cumberland Island, GA are truly remarkable, casting a warm glow over the white sandy beaches and making the landscape come alive. We can’t wait to go back to the island and do this trip again, one of our longest-standing traditional trips.

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October 18th – Though the hike was dry for us, the rain we had gotten the week before this fall day trip allowed the waterfalls to be flowing at full force. The Fiery Gizzard is a challenging trail, but the natural beauty the trail has to offer along the way makes the extra effort more than worth it!

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October 25th – Hurry up! The pups are clearly ready to hike on our fall backpacking trip to Hobbs Cabin in Savage Gulf. Not only do they make great trail companions, but these furry friends are also perfect tent buddies, helping to keep you a little warmer during those cool fall nights.

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October 26th – Teamwork makes the dream work! Our semi-annual ropes course with Adventureworks is always a blast, encouraging everyone to work together to make it through a complicated series of high and low ropes challenges. The beautiful fall weather made this one that much better!

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November 9th – Speaking of fall, check out the colors on our mountain biking weekend getaway to Mulberry Gap this November! We timed this one perfectly, making the temps warm enough for an enjoyable trip while allowing us to bask in the beauty of some of the most picturesque wooded trails in the southeast.

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November 16th – We spent a day this November helping Ferrell Hollow Farm Senior Horse Sanctuary get ready for their annual fall gala, which raises money to allow them to continue to take in and care for horses that are neglected, abused or disabled. Our group took a few hours to clean the barn and prep for their fundraiser, and made a few equine friends along the way!

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December 8th – Who says your adventures can’t be luxurious? This beautiful infinity pool at one of our hotels in Costa Rica says otherwise. One of many gorgeous photos from this trip, we encourage you to check out more here!

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Thank you to everyone who took the time to participate in and share any of our adventures with us this year, helping to make 2014 Team Green’s best year yet! We’re looking forward to another great year of experiences in 2015, and we hope you’ll join us!

– Matt (Team Green’s Event Coordinator)

P.S. To get more pictures like these, you can always follow us on Instagram.

Sweat and Socialize this Summer!

Sweat and Socialize this Summer!

Oh the good old days when we had recess, and working out meant dodgeball and roller blading…sigh. We were just kids goofing off with our friends, and we still burned 500 calories. If we reminisce for the playground days, then why not spice up exercising as adults? Healthy living should not require lonely, monotonous routines, mundane treadmill runs, or checking your watch every thirty seconds until the workout is finished. Turn happy hour into healthy hour and reap the benefits of making your exercise more social.

Benefits of Group Exercise:

You Just Might Laugh– Group activities push you out of your comfort zone to try new activities alongside others who have no clue what they’re doing either. Before you know it, you’ll have new friends you can count on to be your socializing buddies at every group activity. The variety of group fitness activities keeps exercise entertaining so you no longer are drawn to your watch. An activity with people who have similar health interests is the best gift you can give yourself after a long day of computer screens and little human interaction. You will be more likely to keep up your workouts if they’re fun!

See Improvement– Instructors design their activities for maximum effectiveness. The teachers are professionally trained and have knowledge that is impossible to access on your own. The directions in a group activity provide boundaries for safety. Instructors correct your bad habits and point out what you’re doing wrong to help you achieve your personal best.

Group Classes Never Flake– Group fitness calendars may start to read like your social calendar. As relationships grow through group activities, you form accountability partners to keep you from bailing out on exercise. Group classes are consistent, while offering a variety of twists relative to traditional exercise.

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Beginner-friendly– No prior knowledge is necessary to get involved with group classes. Social fitness classes open doors to new sports and hobbies that you would never discover on your own. When you begin a new activity, groups make it easy to hang in the back until you feel comfortable with what you’re doing.

Stay Motivated– Group fitness is the best way to ease into a regular workout routine. Camaraderie among your peers provides motivation to make it to class and challenge yourself to keep up a healthy lifestyle and improve your current fitness levels. Group fitness is a great way to bring your friends and family to activities to encourage them to be more active too!

Healthier All Around– The social support in a group makes it easier to lose weight, engage in healthier behaviors, re-energize, and improve your mood, according to a study in Psychology Today.

There’s no excuse to not try out a group exercise activity. Join Team Green Adventures for group fitness events like paddle boarding, hiking, yoga in the park, mountain biking, or archery. Team Green is strongly committed to your health and wellbeing and offers a variety of ways to begin making your workouts more social! Ring in the start of summer this year by getting outdoors, trying something new, and pledging to improve your health… with us!

 – Kate (Team Green’s Summer Intern)

Commuting: A Piece of Cake (Recipe Included!)

Commuting: A Piece of Cake (Recipe Included!)

IF YOU ARE HERE FROM TEAM GREEN’S 5/11/15 eNEWSLETTER, WE MEANT TO LINK YOU TO HERE!

In the Fall of 2012 Davidson County was inducted into the League of American Cyclists “Bronze Level” award category among the nation’s Bike-Friendly communities. To many of us Nashvillians, this comes as no shock. We’ve all seen the growing greenways, bike lanes, and bike routes sprout up all over our beautiful city. In 2008, Mayor Karl Dean formed the first Nashville Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and has invested $7 million in these bike-friendly infrastructures, and it’s paying off. Our city’s most recent bike share program, Nashville B-cycle, took root in December 2012 and already has over 825 active annual members!

One thing is for sure: It’s a good thing we have these amazing bike-friendly infrastructures in place, because cycling in Tennessee is no easy task! In comparison to some of our nation’s most notorious bike-friendly communities, Middle Tennessee is inundated with hills! Fortunately, this is as much an advantage as it is a disadvantage. That is to say, Middle Tennessee cyclists get fit fast! With the beautiful farm-scapes, babbling creeks and rivers, and easy access to the 444 mile long Natchez Trace Parkway, it’s easy to lose ourselves in the ride and forget how great of a workout we’re getting.

So, in honor of Bike Month (May), we challenge all Team Greeners to get on a bike at least once!

If you haven’t been on a bike since you were 12, rent a Nashville B-cycle and go on an easy urban ride! Team Green has a Beginner Friendly Urban Bike Ride scheduled for Sunday, May 18th at the Music Row B-station!

If you have your own bike, but haven’t been on it in a while, get it tuned up and take it for a spin! Warner Park now allows mountain bikes on their trails, and Team Green has a Beginner Mountain Bike Ride on Wednesday, May 14th at Warner Park!

If you live anywhere from 1-15 miles from your office, consider commuting to work at least once this month! May 16th is Bike to Work Day. Walk Bike Nashville is organizing community rides all over Davidson County that day, and the Mayor’s office is hosting breakfast at the courthouse for all participants! You can get your whole office involved!

I personally commute 21 miles via bike to work, once each week. After quite a bit of trial-and-error, I’ve finally come up with a pretty good recipe for a successful commute. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Bike
  • Bike Helmet
  • 100 calories for every 45 minutes on your bike (1 GU= 100 calories)
  • 2 sources of hydration (2 water bottles or a hydration bag & bottle)
  • Bike Bag (multi tool, spare tube, CO2 Cartridge & inflator, tire levers)
  • Sunblock & Sunglasses
  • Change of clothes & Toiletries
  • Access to a shower (or not… it’s up to you!)
  • Friends/Family/Co-Workers who know your route plan
  • Post Ride Recovery Drink (I really like the Bolthouse Mocha Cappuccino!)

Prep Steps

  1. Consider packing a duffle bag with your change of clothes and toiletries. Drop this bag off at work the day before your commute, or get bike panniers to carry your stuff en route.
  2. Make sure you have a nutrition plan waiting for you at work (protein drink, banana, yogurt, etc). Commuting to work is no different than hitting the gym before work. You’ll need to refuel, or you’ll lose steam mid-day!
  3. Get your bike ready the night before. Inflate your tires, fill your water bottles, pick out your nutrition options for the ride, and set out your cycle clothing. Getting this out of the way the night before makes for a stress-free morning for your commute.
  4. Make sure you have your id, insurance card, some cash, and a credit/debit card with you on your ride.
  5. Make sure that a family member or co-worker knows your plan to commute. Share your route with them.

Additional Tips

  1. If this is your first time riding in to work, map your route on a website like MapMyRide or Ride with GPS, to ensure you’re using the most bike-friendly directions. On a weekend before your commute, ride the route and see how long it takes. Change your route if there’s anything you don’t like about it. Remember, the roads will be busier on your way into work!
  2. Once you know the time it’ll take you to commute into work, add an additional 5-10 minutes “just in case” you get a flat tire. Then, add another 30-60 minutes so you have time to change your clothes and shower up once you get to work.
  3. Remember that Cyclists are legally recognized as “vehicles” on the road. This means you need to ride in the same direction as traffic; stop at all stoplights/stop signs; use hand signals to communicate your turns; have visible front and rear lights on your bike.
  4. If you have a bike, but don’t know how to change out your tire or fix your chain, visit your local bike shop. They’ll show you the quick and easy “need to know” skills, and most of them will offer classes that you can attend. Team Green often posts workshops hosted by REI Brentwood.
  5. Check out Team Green’s Road Cycling and Mountain Biking checklists.
  6. Take a post-ride selfie and #BikeMonth when you tweet @TeamGreenAdvntr

Keeley BikeMonth

-Keeley Puncochar (Team Green Adventures Director)