Oh, my. Where to start.
I hated this trail.
I came across this trail years ago in a book called 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Nashville, by Johnny Molloy. (There’s also one for Denver and Boulder sitting on my shelf; you can find them for several other cities and areas.) I didn’t hike it at the time, and a week ago I decided it was time to check it out.
There have been very few times in my life that I regretted taking a walk in the woods. This was one of them.
There were only two good things about this trail: the parking lot was easy to find, and the trail was mercifully short, only 1.4 m/2.25 km. That’s where the good things end.
Once you park, the trail head itself isn’t marked. There’s no sign, no little wooden pergola, no cairn. Nothing. You can’t ask somebody to point you in the right direction, because the parking lot is eerily empty except for a truck with a horse trailer and a few vehicles with boat trailers using the lake ramp at the end of the lot. I studied a grainy, poorly-marked PDF on my phone, and took a guess at a section of grass that looked decently trampled. (For the record, the trail head is located to the left of where the parking lot splits.) When I assumed I was at the trail head, I turned right, deciding to go counter-clockwise.
Since this is a short loop trail, I didn’t expect there to be several blazes or other trail markings, but I was surprised to find ZERO trail markings as I went. Just a little ways into the loop the trail split, with no marker or sign pointing which way to go. I figured since it was a loop, I’d just continue to turn left, left, left and make this as exciting as NASCAR.
I continued along the trail slowly. I had, in my ignorance, figured this would take around 15 minutes to trail run, since it was so flat. WRONG. The trail, in addition to being unmarked, was terribly overgrown. Shrubs, tall weeds, and tree limbs brushed at my legs and arms most of the way. Horses use this trail as well – lots of manure makes that abundantly clear – so the parts that are wide enough to escape the weeds are muddy and often retain water. This, and it’s proximity to the lake, is an open invitation to gnats and mosquitoes.
I gave up on running the trail because I kept breaking through spiderwebs and they were covering me; I picked multiple spiders off of my face, chest, and arms. I went to my old fail-safe and found a 3-foot stick and waved it like a sorcerer in front of me to gather the spiderwebs as I hiked.
Why were there so many webs? Because NO ONE ELSE HIKES HERE. I never saw another human, in the parking lot or on the trail. I did stumble across a creepy makeshift camp of a big black tarp tent set back in the woods and surrounded by garbage. I kept my guard up after that.
One of the surprises was that the trail was covered in trash! How does that happen when there’s obviously no one around? I normally follow Leave No Trace principles and try to pick up other people’s trash as I go. I didn’t have a pack or bag on me (because of the aforementioned short time to trail run), and I eventually gave up as there was just way too much trash to carry.
As I wound my way around this lakeside (not really, because you don’t see the lake for most of it) loop, I came across an area of desiccated picnic tables that had been taken over by years of weeds. There was a pavilion in the distance that looked sturdy enough. I think perhaps this was where I took the wrong turn.
Since the trail isn’t marked, once you get to the area with the picnic tables, the trail seems to only go right; there’s a footpath in the grass on the left to the old pavilion, but it doesn’t look like the trail. I walked up to the pavilion because the path ended there. I turned around and followed the natural trail to the right and ended up on a service road. It was a quick (maybe .25 mile?) walk back to the parking lot, since the service road came out close to the entrance sign of the lot. I would like to say I went back to the trail head, turned left, and tried to see where I went the wrong way, but I was sweaty, covered in spiderwebs, and had mud-covered trail runners that smelled like a stall. I got in my truck and got the heck out of Dodge.
The sad thing is that this trail does have a lot of potential. It’s near a popular lake. The parking lot is easy to find. It’s flat and short, so it would be an easy family hike. I think a bush hog, a few tons of mulch, some painted blazes, banning horses from this one small section, and a trash clean-up crew would really help bring this trail to life. Anyone know an Eagle Scout in Middle Tennessee that needs a service project?