Clear the Way- Trail Building 101

Clear the Way- Trail Building 101

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?

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We Are (Still) Nashville

We Are (Still) Nashville

During the spring and summer, Nashville is blooming with community service opportunities. The enthusiasm and pride that our city takes in improving one another’s quality of life is without a doubt one of the reasons we became the “It City.” The big question is, how do you choose which service projects to commit your time to? Team Green Adventures is no stranger to the world of Nashville non-profits. We work closely with nearly every non-profit that puts an emphasis on improving our environment, feeding the hungry, and building lifetime skills for both volunteers and beneficiaries. This week’s blog spotlights some of our favorite non-profits and community projects we’ll team up on throughout the year!

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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!

Greenways
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.

Earth Day
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.).

Harpeth waterfall
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!

bcycle
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!

kings bluff
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)

15 Great Stocking Stuffers for the Adventurer in Your Life

15 Great Stocking Stuffers for the Adventurer in Your Life

We all know the holidays can be a stressful time of year, especially when you have no idea what to get your loved ones. In need of some last-minute gift ideas for that adventurous person in your life? Look no further! Here are a few of our favorite stocking-sized (and priced) pieces of outdoor gear that we never leave home without:

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5 Great Day Hikes in Middle Tennessee

5 Great Day Hikes in Middle Tennessee

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.

Radnor Fall
Radnor Lake from the Lake Trail

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!

LongHunterMap
The Volunteer Day Loop offers consistently great views of Percy Priest Lake.

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!

short springs_full
Machine Falls at Short Springs State Natural Area

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!

– Matt (Team Green’s Events Coordinator)

Don’t Leave Home Without These Essential Adventure Apps!

Don’t Leave Home Without These Essential Adventure Apps!

Life requires us to constantly be on the go. While many times our phones can distract us and waste our time, mobile apps can act as useful tools that make it easier to save time and access the outdoors from wherever we’re located. It’s our passion to connect you with the best trails, waterways and natural areas in Middle Tennessee and beyond, but when we can’t be there to do the trip with you, these mobile apps provide everything you need to work on getting outside on your own!

Local Outdoors

Record a walk, run or bike ride with NashVitality (free) to track your time, distance, pace and calories burned. NashVitality will guide you to all of Nashville’s greenways, trails and waterways. With the “Explore Near Me” and “News & Events” buttons, you can always be plugged in to the active outdoors community in Nashville.

Metro Parks (free) is a complete mobile guide to Percy and Edwin Warner Parks. Find immediate access to the natural history of the parks, an interactive map, news and events, and a photo gallery. Next time you head to Warner Parks, download this app to look out for specific plant species or find the perfect picnic table mid-hike.

With the B-Cycle (free) app, you will have no trouble finding the nearest B-Cycle station. Plan your bike ride ahead of time by checking the map for all of Nashville’s stations. The biggest advantage to having this app is that you will always know exactly how many available bikes and docks are at each B-Cycle station, meaning you’ll never end up bikeless or without a place to dock the bike you’re already riding!

National Adventure

All Trails (free) is like Yelp for hiking. All Trails has information on more than 50,000 trails across the country, so you will always be able to find the perfect route near you. Each trail has personal recommendations, reviews and photos. This app helps you create a wish list of trails and keep track of trails you have completed. All Trails also keeps you up to date on local hiking events.

Take part in protecting our wildlife with Project Noah (free), which helps you create a “mission” that others nearby can join. Each mission documents spotted wildlife and plant species. Discover innumerable organisms around the world and be on the lookout for endangered species in your area to photograph as part of this citizen-scientist project.

MotionX GPS ($1.99) will identify your location anywhere in the world on topographic and road maps. With a choice of nine maps, you are sure to find the graphic that matches your terrain. This app is worth the money because you can record your tracks for whatever sport, such as mountain biking or skiing, and replay your track in real-time. Check altitude, ascent, and descent. Mark waypoints and snap a photo to keep on your map. Some other impressive features include a compass, social media tools, and a personal tour guide via Wikipedia.

Map My Hike (free), which is much like the popular “Map My Run,” will track the pace, highest speed, split times, distance and calories burned on all of your hikes. A graph shows your pace at each elevation as well. The app features a nutrition calculator to count your calories consumed and burned, and how much water you need to stay hydrated through the end of your hike.

Chimani National Parks (free) is your mobile passport to the National Parks. This app will keep you from missing important monuments, memorials and historical sites. With a map and current news, this app is everything you need for traveling to these wonders of the world!

Feeling spontaneous? Reserve America Camping (free) is a helpful tool for finding camping grounds whether you need one in a month or tonight. Search sites in state, federal and private grounds across the U.S. and find photos and details on each site using this mobile app.

Eddie Bauer Adventure (free) is a well-rounded app every outdoors enthusiast needs. Choose the activity you want to do and the level of difficulty you desire, and then narrow your options down by time of day, distance from you, and whether you are bringing kids or a dog. The app will give you detailed guides with clear photos of the places that fit your description to help you discover your next adventure.

Outdoor Utilities

Coleman’s Camping Cookbook (free) has you covered for meal planning in the woods. With everything from breakfast burritos to s’mores, this cookbook makes it easy to amplify your camping meals so you won’t go hungry!

Sky View (free) is a simple app that allows you to point your phone at the sky to point out stars, constellations, satellites, and planets. We all know identifying celestial objects can be tough, so downloading this app means you’ll never be left stargazing again unsure of what exactly you’re looking at!

SAS Survival ($5.99) has been the go-to book for survival, but now the full text can be found in mobile form. This helpful app provides videos, photos of animal tracks, knots, poisonous and edible plants, a Morse Code signaling device, checklists, and a First Aid guide. While we still advise preparing for any extreme trek thoroughly beforehand, this app can be trusted to help protect you on your next excursion.

There is an overwhelming amount of weather apps out there, but Accu Weather (free) is a reliable source for minute-by-minute forecasts, animated radar, and more details than you could possibly need on the conditions in your location. Never get caught in the rain again!

You never know when you may need First Aid skills. If you are not First Aid certified, American Red Cross First Aid (free) will help you in case of an emergency. Videos, quizzes, and step-by-step guides will help give you a basic understanding of how to handle those backwoods medical emergencies.

Connect with Others

We know people who love the outdoors are the best kind of people. Yonder (free) connects you with people worldwide who share the same passion for an active outdoor lifestyle. Yonder is basically a fusion of Instagram with Google Maps that allows you to share your adventurous pics, get feedback, and look at other explorers’ photos before you head off to a new destination.

Suited to Your Activity

Bike Maps ($0.99) provides trails for city commuting or mountain biking. Never ride down a bad path again!

iTrail Map (free) keeps all of your mountain trail maps in one convenient place. Even better, now you can read trail maps paper-free.

Anyone who loves skiing needs Ski Tracks ($0.99). This app tells you everything about your runs, such as max speed, distance skied, your ascent and descent, max altitude, number of runs, temperatures and duration. Ski Tracks places these stats on a graph, as well as on a ski map so you can see how much of the mountain you covered.

Ski & Snow Report (free) is a clear guide to prepare you each morning before you hit the slopes. Check the number of lifts open, runs groomed, and amount of snowfall overnight to make the most of your time on the slopes.

Stay safe and catch the best waves with Surfline (free), which provides the latest conditions and forecasts across the globe.

Download the apps that fit your lifestyle and let us know how they worked out for you! If you need a little inspiration or a place to upload some fantastic pics to your new Yonder profile, join Team Green this Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. for a moderate hike at Radnor Lake. For more details, see our event page.

– Kate (Team Green’s Summer Intern)

Book Review: Natural Nashville

Book Review: Natural Nashville

Summer entails outdoor adventures, traveling to new places and trying new activities, but we can’t forget to rest, relax and re-charge. This summer, as you spend some time by a pool or lake, pick up Robert Brandt’s Natural Nashville: A Guide to the Greenways and Nature Parks.

If you call Nashville home, then you’ve probably found your favorite trails to escape the city. Whether you are looking for more secluded places, or you want to expand your knowledge of your cherished parks, Natural Nashville has everything you need to know about outdoor adventure in Nashville, all in one convenient place!

Brandt’s fifth book on the Tennessee outdoors is an extensive guide highlighting everything you can expect to see and experience at each park or Greenway in Nashville. At the end of each section is a personal testimony from a local hiker, giving you a more intimate account of the treasures Nashville has to offer.

Natural Nashville was written in memory of Bob Brown, the founder of Tennessee Trails Association. Brown was also a leader in establishing the Cumberland Trail, the greenways program, Shelby Bottoms, Beaman Park, and Bells Bend Park. Brown passed away in 2007, but Brandt’s book is a place for recognizing and appreciating Brown’s hard work in preserving the natural environment in Tennessee.

In an interview with The Tennessean, Brandt shares his five favorite outdoor activities in Nashville:

  1. Biking the Natchez Trace Parkway
  2. Floating along the Harpeth
  3. Riding the Music City Bikeway
  4. Looping the Warner Park Trails
  5. Hiking Beaman Park

If you love Nashville and understand the joy of spending a long time roaming natural parks and trails, then you’ll be glad you opened Brandt’s Natural Nashville. Not only will this guide teach you more about Nashville’s natural environment, but it will also inspire you to continue exploring and spending time in the great outdoors.

Natural Nashville: A Guide to the Greenways and Nature Parks is $14.95 and can be purchased at BookMan BookWoman, Parnassus Books and Amazon.com. All proceeds go toward future Greenways for Nashville projects. Greenways for Nashville is a nonprofit coalition of individuals, groups and businesses that support Metro Parks greenways program, which preserves natural, scenic and cultural areas around Nashville with the help of volunteers.

ImageNo plans next weekend? You might want to check out the guided hike being led by Robert Brandt being held at Warner Parks. This event will be a great way to learn more about the book firsthand from the author, while also giving you the opportunity to snag a copy if you want one!

– Kate (Team Green’s Summer Intern)