Last night, after enjoying the beautiful upper-60s temps on a patio outside, gorging on hamburgers, fries, and tots at The Pharmacy, I got inspired for our family to spend today outside hiking--both to enjoy the beautiful weather and hopefully burn off some of those calories. For the past eight years, we've pretty much constantly had a baby or toddler in tow, so we really never felt like we could have a successful hiking excursion. I thought now was a good time to try--our youngest is three (old enough to know how to listen) and our oldest is eight (if we wait too much longer we'll miss that window of interest from him).
One of the things that has kept us from taking a hiking trip yet has simply been not knowing where to go. One of my favorite trails is the Stone Door, but with bluffs like the one pictured below, there's no chance we are taking Hayes yet.
So, I downloaded 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Nashville to my iPad last night, and this morning Todd and I scrolled through the book to figure out which one we wanted to try today. We picked the Old Stone Fort Archeological Park in Manchester, TN. We liked the idea that this trail had waterfalls, an easy and forested trail, and was short (only 1.4 miles).
We had a bit of stress on the middle part as the trail goes along the edge of a bluff probably 200-300 feet high. The view down was gorgeous, but Hayes was so excited that we were a little anxious he would tumble off the edge.
(This is a pretty steep drop off here.)
For the last section, we stayed down low and walked along the river. There were three waterfalls (two were overlooks and one we could get down close to the water). At one point we found the stone ruins of an old building and the kids enjoyed imagining what it must have once been.
We sat on a log at the end and had a snack before going back up to the "museum" at the beginning and end of the trail.
The guides were very nice and helpful, told us a bit of the history of the area--an Indian tribe once lived on the grassy flat area up above the middle of the curve of the river. They built a wall there two thousand years ago (when Jesus walked the earth, people!), and we enjoyed imagining their life on this field, trying to keep little ones from tumbling over the cliffs, finding food, building shelter, etc. As we were leaving, one of the guides was heading up to the roof of the museum (it was built into the side of a hill overlooking the river) to do storytelling about the ancient Indian tribes.
We'll definitely plan to go back here some day, and I'd highly recommend it for your kids. The trip took us about an hour from Franklin to get there. One tip: avoid traveling Hwy 96 to Murfreesboro in May. We got stuck in the Tennessee Renaissance Festival traffic and it was a bear on the way back.