At Lightning 100’s Team Green Adventures, we love the outdoors. We are passionate about maintaining a clean, sustainable environment for all to enjoy, and it is our goal to get the community of Middle Tennessee involved in our efforts. That’s why we incorporate as many community service events as we can to help raise awareness about environmental concerns.
Each year Team Green Adventures hosts multiple waterway cleanups to collect litter from our beautiful creeks and streams. In 2015, over 100 volunteers gathered for six different waterway cleanups; together we gathered 167 bags of trash and 118 tires!
Have you ever thought about how a trail is actually created? When I first began hiking, I was far too consumed with my natural surroundings to consider the work put in to design and construct a trail. Then I spent a Sunday morning rerouting the Fiery Gizzard Trail with Team Green Adventures, and my outlook on hiking trails was changed forever.
Hiking trails do not just appear out of thin air. They are created with in-depth forethought and are paved by nature lovers abound. Designing a trail requires proper vision with the most sustainable route in mind. Think long-term. How can we design a trail so it can be used for the next 50+ years, with the minimal amount of maintenance needed to keep it safe and functional?
So here we are, one week away from Valentine’s Weekend. If you’re like me, you probably lost track of time and have found yourself cutting it close without plans!
Don’t freak out.
It’s not too late to take advantage of some great deals for a fun-loving weekend with your sweetheart (or best friend)! This week’s Adventure Blog is a follow up to last year’s “Valentine’s Dates for Outdoors Lovers” blog (which still has some valid tips!)
If you’ve been keeping up with our blog over the last several months, then you know that we’ve got a ton of love for all that Nashville has to offer when it comes to getting outdoors. From parks and greenways to waterways and festivals, Nashville provides residents with an almost endless supply of excuses to step outside and enjoy nature. Though Middle Tennessee is a fantastic place to be for recreation lovers of all types, that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement! As a city, we’re constantly thinking about the next steps to take to continue to support active outdoor lifestyles. Here are five projects on the horizon (or closer) that are helping to make Nashville just that much better for people who love to get outdoors:
1. Davidson Street Multi-Use Path (Coming July, 2015)
Over the last several years, Nashville has made great strides toward becoming a much more bike-friendly city. In 2012, Nashville was recognized as a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community (TM) by the League of American Bicyclists, and as of last week, Nashville now has 16 Bicycle Friendly Businesses (TM), including us! If our cycling community is to continue to grow and thrive moving forward, then there certainly needs to be an increase in infrastructure to provide riders of all ability levels with safe and accessible routes across the city. Thankfully, city officials have recognized this need and acted accordingly, recently announcing a multi-use path to be installed along Davidson Street near Shelby Bottoms. The path enhances the existing Music City Bikeway by implementing a paved path for both pedestrians and cyclists that would range between 8 and 12 feet wide and include protective bollards and wide striping to increase user safety. The path will increase connectivity between Downtown, LP Field, Shelby Bottoms, and existing neighborhoods in East Nashville, and is a fantastic resource for commuting and recreational cyclists alike!
2. West Riverfront Park and Amphitheater (Coming July, 2015)
If you’ve set foot in SoBro recently, then you know how hard it is to miss all the construction going on in what is becoming one of Nashville’s fastest growing commercial districts. Sitting prominently on a long-blighted piece of prime riverfront property (this site was once the home of Nashville’s Thermal Transfer Plant), the soon-to-be-completed West Riverfront Park will provide an incredible array of amenities for Nashvillians to get outdoors. Most notably, the park features a gleaming 6,500 seat outdoor amphitheater, giving the city a much-needed mid-size concert venue. The lineup for the inaugural season at the newly-named Ascend Amphitheater was just released last week, featuring more than a dozen shows ranging from Eric Church and Grace Potter to Widespread Panic and Old Crow Medicine Show, offering a little something for every musical taste. The site will also feature a dog park, outdoor wi-fi, more than a mile of greenways and paths, basketball courts and so much more, providing SoBro with access to a ton of much-needed resources to enjoy the outdoors right in the heart of Downtown.
3. East Bank Landing (Coming Summer, 2015)
Though West Riverfront Park has been getting most of the press recently, there are big changes happening on the other side of the river as well. East Bank Landingis currently under construction adjacent to LP Field and the Bridge Building, tucked in near the eastern end of the Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge. When complete, this small park will feature increased green space and shade trees, several benches, a picnic area, and a floating dock for the General Jackson. Perhaps the best feature for local outdoors enthusiasts, the renovated space will also include direct water access for launching canoes and kayaks, providing another access point to what has been a historically under-utilized Cumberland River. East Bank Landing also acts as an addition to the existing open space in nearby Cumberland Park, making for several acres of contiguous green space along the increasingly resident-friendly eastern bank of the river.
4. oneC1TY (Ongoing, some elements now open)
Tucked into a historically nondescript lot north of Centennial Park, the oneC1TY projectis quickly becoming one of Nashville’s most talked about developments, and with good reason. Part of the larger redevelopment of Charlotte Avenue into a “healthy corridor,” oneC1TY seeks to become a hub for health and wellness both indoors and outdoors. The project will feature tons of sustainable elements, like a shipping container village (playfully named C1TYBLOX) full of health-oriented businesses, as well as highly-efficient office space for groups like the Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance. oneC1TY will also play host to several public outdoor elements, like walking paths, a lake with a picnic area, an amphitheater for music and other performances, and sand volleyball courts (which are already open). Overall, the project is aiming to be a LEED-certified sustainable neighborhood with both residential and commercial components, and its main goal is to be a center for innovation and collaboration on all things health and wellness in Nashville.
5. Centennial Park Renovation (Phase 1 due in May, 2015)
One of Nashville’s oldest and most recognizable parks, Centennial Park has long been a cherished outdoor spot for many locals. Since 1897, the park has provided Nashvillians with access to walking and running paths, abundant green space, a small pond full of wildlife, gorgeous gardens, and a full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon among other amenities, all in the heart of Midtown! Though the park has long been a staple of Nashville’s recreation culture, an increasingly vibrant and growing user base has spurred on the need for renovations. Construction began late last summer on Phase 1 of the project, which includes a permanent amphitheater for the Musician’s Corner concert series and enhanced parking and landscaping near the Parthenon, among other components. Future phases will provide park users with access to a stream flowing through the park, the renovation of existing monuments and addition of new sculptures, the installation of a playground, and so much more! The Centennial Park Master Plan outlines all of the changes happening throughout the park, and provides a snapshot into how incredible the park will be for all of Nashville when it’s complete.
All of these great projects have got us beyond excited to get outdoors as the weather heats up this summer, and we hope you’ll join us! Check out our calendar to find ways to get involved. Do you have a favorite local project going on that we missed? Feel free to add it in our comments section below!
In honor of President’s Day this Monday, there’s no better time to take a quick look back at the history of one of America’s greatest treasures, our National Park system. Though the first National Park, Yellowstone, was actually established by an act of Congress in 1872, the Oval Office has long made significant impacts on the system as a whole. While parks continued to be established throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, it wasn’t until 1916 that President Woodrow Wilson, at the height of World War I, established the National Park Service to manage and oversee the ever-expanding system of federally-protected lands. Since that time, dozens of National Parks and hundreds of National Monuments have been added to the list of conserved places, with some 401 distinct areas covering more than 84 million acres across the United States and its territories.
Here’s a quick rundown of the 10 most-visited National Parks, as well as their year of creation and the President at the time:
1. Great Smoky Mountain National Park (Tennessee, 1926, Calvin Coolidge)
2. Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona, 1919, Woodrow Wilson)
3. Yosemite National Park (California, 1890, Benjamin Harrison)
4. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, 1872, Ulysses S. Grant)
5. Olympic National Park (Washington, 1938, Franklin Roosevelt)
6. Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado, 1915, Woodrow Wilson)
7. Zion National Park (Utah, 1919, Woodrow Wilson)
8. Grand Teton National Park (Utah, 1929, Herbert Hoover)
9. Acadia National Park (Maine, 1919, Woodrow Wilson)
10. Glacier National Park (Montana, 1910, William Howard Taft)
Arguably one of the most interesting things about the National Park system is that it’s never complete. In just the last 35 years, 19 parks have been added to the list, including mainstays like Saguaro National Park in Arizona and Joshua Tree National Park in California (both were upgraded from National Monument status in 1994). In total, 18 different US Presidents have overseen the addition of National Park land to the system, spanning more than 130 years of preservation efforts.
Obviously, no discussion of conservation in the United States would be complete without mention of Teddy Roosevelt, who is widely considered to be America’s most conservation-oriented president. After taking a trip to the Badlands in 1883, Roosevelt became enamored with the beauty of the American frontier while also developing great concern for the damage being done to the land and wildlife through ever-increasing development and hunting patterns. Just over 20 years later, Roosevelt channeled his passion for the great outdoors into the passage of the 1906 American Antiquities Act, which he used to create 18 National Monuments. During the course of his Presidency, “Roosevelt used his authority to protect wildlife and public lands by creating the U.S. Forest Service and establishing 51 Federal Bird Reservations, 4 National Game Preserves, 150 National Forests, [and] 5 National Parks,” conserving some 230 million acres of American wilderness in the process (much of this land was protected under the jurisdiction of the National Forest Service, which was combined with the National Park Service in 1933 through an Executive Order by Franklin D. Roosevelt).
Even to this day, the quest for further conservation continues with President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, which aims to promote a responsible conservation and recreation agenda through the development of closer relationships between outdoors stakeholders at all levels. So on this President’s Day, take some time to appreciate the efforts of those in the White House to protect the incredible natural beauty that exists in all corners of the United States. If you can, head to your nearest National Park, National Monument, National Forest, or any other federally-protected area and enjoy the wonder of the great outdoors! Happy President’s Day, Nashville!
– Matt (Team Green’s Event Coordinator)
Update 2/19/15: President Obama just designated three new National Monuments: Pullman National Monument in Illinois, Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado, and Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii. Very cool!
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!
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.
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.).
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!
5. Our Close Proximity to Nearby Recreation Opportunities
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!
It’s that time of year again, when the weather is cooling off, the leaves are changing, and the local trails could not be more beautiful! Take some time over the next several weeks to get out and enjoy a few great hikes before winter sets in. Middle Tennessee is one of the best places in the country to enjoy a scenic day hike, so take advantage of the abundant nearby park land and hit the trails! Here are a few of our favorite day hikes that won’t require you to go far from home:
1. Radnor Lake – Ganier Ride Loop + Lake Trail (4.5 miles, Easy-Moderate)
By now, I’m sure just about everyone in Nashville has hiked Radnor Lake, or is at least familiar with this gorgeous park located just 20 minutes south of downtown. Known for its wildlife, Radnor Lake is a fantastic place to see all kinds of feathered friends, including a wide variety of songbirds, and even a handful of bald eagles in the fall/winter. The park is in the process of installing an aviary to cater to some of the larger birds of prey, which should make this local park that much more attractive in years to come. While on the Ganier Ridge Trail, take a few minutes to stop at some of the higher elevation points, as you can get a great view of downtown on a clear day. Note that the park is a state natural area, meaning you can’t bring your pup on the hike with you, but we promise the hike won’t disappoint! The peace and quiet makes this one a great solo hike anyways.
2. Warner Parks – Mossy Ridge Trail (4.5 miles, Moderate)
Surrounded by Tennessee hardwoods and located in one of the largest and urban parks in the country, the Mossy Ridge Trail is a fantastic hike to try out in the fall, as you’ll be surrounded by beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow throughout. The longest (and often least-used) trail in the Warner Parks system, Mossy Ridge makes for a convenient local training hike and is a popular trail running destination, especially given the moderate nature of the elevation changes. Along the way, you’ll pass several opportunities to stop for a picnic, and will also encounter a spring-fed waterfall that runs best after a good rain. It’s also a great place to take the dogs for a walk – just keep your furry friends on a leash! While at the park, drop by the nature center to learn a little more about the park’s history and wildlife.
3. Old Natchez Trace – Garrison Creek Loop (6.3 miles, Moderate)
Though Nashville marks the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace, it seems like the amenities provided by this historic and scenic roadway are often under-used by Nashvillians as a whole. Starting at Highway 100 in West Nashville (near Loveless Cafe – if you haven’t tried their biscuits, you’re missing out), the Trace winds 444 miles south to Natchez, Mississippi, making for one of the best interstate drives in the nation (the Trace is designated as a National Scenic Roadway and is managed by the National Park Service). 17 miles south on the Trace is where you’ll find the Garrison Creek trailhead, featuring picnic tables and restrooms. This hike makes for a great day trip, especially in the fall, as you can take in not only the vibrant colors, but travel back in time to relive some of the experiences of the original Trace travelers, as there are tons of historical markers along the way.
4. Long Hunter State Park – Volunteer Day Loop (4 miles, Moderate)
Like the Natchez Trace, Long Hunter State Park is an often under-used local outdoors amenity that deserves a little extra attention. On the east banks of Percy Priest Lake, Long Hunter has more than 20 miles of hiking trail, including the Volunteer Day Loop, a moderate, 4-mile hike. The trail runs along the lake for roughly half its length, making for great views of the water. There are minimal elevation changes and rock features on this trail, making it an accessible one for hikers of all skill levels. Feeling up for a challenge? Start on the Day Loop and stay along the lake to continue to follow the full out-and-back Volunteer Trail. You’ll find a backcountry campsite roughly 6 miles in, offering a great opportunity to try your hand at an easy overnight backpacking trip! Besides offering great, beginner-friendly hiking trails, the park also offers a host of other activities, including canoe, kayak and paddleboat rentals, sand volleyball courts, swimming, fishing, and mountain biking, making it a great place to spend a full day!
5. Short Springs State Natural Area – Multiple Trails (~5 miles, Moderate)
If it’s wildflowers you’re looking for, then search no further! Short Springs is our go-to destination for wildflowers in the spring, as the preserved green space here is home to dozens of varieties of flowering plants, reaching their peak in early-mid April, depending on the weather. Though a little further from Nashville than the other four hikes mentioned here, this one is most definitely worth it! The park not only features a ton of gorgeous flowering plants, but also plays host to multiple waterfalls (spring is also a great time to catch these flowing strongly). Roughly five miles of moderate hiking takes you past abundant wildflowers, Machine Falls, and Upper and Lower Busby Falls, making for a great place to spend a leisurely spring day taking in some of the best scenery in Middle Tennessee!
Ready to get out and do some hiking? Join us next Saturday, November 1st for our New Faces Day Hike at Radnor Lake, and keep your eyes on the calendar as we post more hikes in the coming weeks!