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Highland Rim Trail
By Josh Guin
In my travels across Tennessee I’ve enjoyed riding some of the most beautiful trails you’ll find in the Southeast. From the fields of West Tennessee to the mountains of East Tennessee and everything in between, there’s a lot to experience in “Rocky Top.”
Recently, I rode the entirety of the Highland Rim Trail on the Natchez Trace Parkway, and there was something so special about this trail. Actually, there were five things!
Here are five reasons why the Highland Rim Trail is one of my favorite trails and why you should consider riding it yourself.
1. History– Thisplace is seriously rich with American history. Historians believe that the original trail was formed by herds of bison traveling from the Mississippi river to Nashville salt licks. Some of the first people to travel the trace were Native Americans and then Europeans. From the Garrison Creek trailhead named after a nearby 1800s army garrison to riding in the eroded path of the original Natchez Trace, you’ll feel the special connection to those who traveled there long ago: people like Andrew Jackson, who led his troops down the path during the War of 1812 to Meriwether Lewis, who explored much of America.
2. Location – Thetrail is located on the Natchez Trace Parkway, south of Nashville in middle Tennessee. The roads leading to the parkway are mostly rural and the parkway itself is perfect for hauling horses with light traffic and a low speed limit. The trail conveniently parallels the Trace and is easily accessible by vehicle in case of emergency.
3. Length– This 25 mile trail runs north and southfrom the most northern trailhead in Leiper’s Fork (Garrison Creek Trailhead) down through Fly, Tennessee (Hwy 7 Trailhead) to the most Southern trailhead in Shady Grove, Tennessee (Hwy 50 Trailhead). Primitive camping is allowed by permit along the trail, or you can ride from trailhead to trailhead with someone to drop you off and pick you up along the way. Try to ride the entire trail, whether in one trip or several. Although I had ridden portions of the trail in the past, there really was something different about completing the entirety of the trail. It was a sense that I truly had the full experience.
4. Terrain– The “rideability” of this trail is enjoyable with a wide variety of terrains,from hill-country hardwoods to fields and meadows with pine groves growing alongside. The trails are well marked and maintained. The footing may require hoof boots or shoes for some horses, but is what I considered safe for myself and my horse. The landscape lends itself to leisurely walks under the canopy of tall oaks, trotting along a babbling stream, and there is plenty of opportunity to stretch your horse’s legs and canter through open fields.
5. Local Culture– Leipers Fork has true southern charm.It has a lot to offer, from country diners to fuel for your trip. My family and I enjoy making special trips there when we’re not hauling horses so that we can spend time visiting the local shops and eating at one of the diners.
The Highland Rim Trail offers you the opportunity to ride the same path, in much the same way that so many great people did who built this nation. Simply put, if you have not tried this wonderful trail, you should consider adding it to your list. I am sure glad I did.
For more information on the Highland Rim Trail and many other great riding destinations, please follow Josh Guin on YouTube or visit his website: www.nashvillehorselessons.com.
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