As Spring turns into Summer, it is time to get out of the house and see some of the beauty and history of Middle Tennessee. The Tennessee Department of Tourism has created a number of driving tours around the state. While created for those visiting from outside the borders of Tennessee, these excursions the Tourism Department have devised are also great for those wanting to explore areas in their home state. One of those tours is called the Screaming Eagle Trail, which is named after the 101st Airborne Air Assault Division that is stationed at Fort Campbell where the tour ends.
Beginning in Nashville and initially heading west, the journey explores history, cuisine and of course music. It also explores lots of natural beauty, which is a great thing to explore in the nice weather.
Moving out of Nashville, a large number of stops on the trail are located in Cheatham, Dickson and Humphries Counties. Many of these stops are a chance to enjoy some natural adventures.
Adventureworks is a good place to start. Zip on a steel cable under a canopy of trees far above the woods at Fontanel, Barbara Mandrell’s former home, in White’s Creek, Tennessee. While the home was once open for tours, all that is currently available to explore is Adventureworks and a system of trails along the conservation greenway.
According to ShowbizCheatSheet.com, the mansion was sold to new owners in 2019 and closed down. Before the pandemic hit, the new owners had planned to “bring the property “back to life.” They want to turn it into a “makers village” that would welcome local artists and craftspeople. They also want to add a lagoon and beach and take down the amphitheater, which has been a source of loud noise complaints for years. The plans also include building 150 one-bedroom cabins, bungalows, and yurts throughout the property. While turning the winery and tasting room into a community fitness center.”
Canoeing or kayaking on the Harpeth River is another great time out in nature. There are three businesses in Kingston Springs that rent all the necessary equipment to have a fun day of floating on the Harpeth River. Each of these companies – Tip-A-Canoe, Foggy Bottom and Canoe Music City — take you to the drop off point, put your transport into the water, and pick you up at the end. There is plenty of time to swim, sun bathe, paddle and share a picnic with friends before arriving at the pick-up point.
Harpeth River State Park offers lots of natural beauty as well as historical and archeological sites. There is a full calendar of events at the park on their website. Rangers offer a wide number of guided hikes with discussions of the rich history along the river including visiting sites related to the Mississippian People who lived in the area between 800 A. D. and 1600 A.D. Those who have more interest in the rich wildlife in the area may prefer the hike to Hidden Lake.
Other parks along the trail include Montgomery Bell State Park. The 3850-acre park includes three natural lakes. The newly remodeled 117-room Lodge sits on the banks of Lake Acorn, “and provides guests with the opportunity to escape to peace and quiet.”
The updated lodge features a new full-service restaurant, bar offering craft beers, and an outdoor pool. Eight cabins are also for rent, as well as a campground that accommodates campers up to 60-feet in length.
Those tired of kayaking and hiking can stop by Mud Puddle Pottery. It offers a gallery of jewelry, glassworks, paintings, pottery, metal sculpture, fiber arts, and artisan crafts like soap. They also have classes in clay, coppersmithing, jewelry and painting. Classes are also available at Three Creeks Farm, including blacksmithing, spinning, and felting.
Drive a little farther on the tour to partake of a rush of adrenalin at Music City Sky Diving in Waverly, Tennessee. See Middle Tennessee’s natural beauty from 14,000 feet in the air on a tandem jump. The jump begins with a one-minute free fall, followed by a float to the ground in about five to 10 minutes with a (usually) gentle landing.
Then there is Historic Downtown Dickson and Charlotte’s Square to visit once you are back on the ground.
At the end of the more than 300-mile, multi-day tour is Clarksville. Clarksville is home to the 101st Airborne Air Assault Division, which was activated at one minute after midnight on August 16, 1942. The Division is recognized for its ability to execute any combat or contingency mission anywhere in the world.
In Clarksville, the Wade Bourne Nature Center at Rotary Park serves to promote conservation and nature education for all ages while connecting visitors with the environment. It is a great place to end this natural tour of Middle Tennessee. In August, they will host their annual Nature Festival.