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Williamsport Lakes WMA
Williamsport Lakes Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is a day ride facility located just west of Columbia, Tennessee in Maury County. The WMA totals 1,800 acres and is comprised of several fishing lakes and wetlands. Most notable is that it offers equestrians over 15 miles of horse trails. The property was transferred to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency from Occidental Chemical Corporation in 1997. This day-use facility is open from sunrise to sunset and offers a simple pull through day use parking area.
There is a store on site with seasonal hours that offers daily meals, ice, and snacks. Be sure to pick up a map as there is limited official trail signage. The store also sells the WMA High Impact Permit necessary for riding all trails managed by Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).
Bring water for your horses as there is no official water source for horses. I don’t recommend watering your horses from the lakes. Occidental Chemical Corporation once mined phosphorus from the surrounding land and used the lakes as settling ponds for the mud they washed off the phosphorus rocks. I tried watering in the lake and, due to the extremely deep mud in the shallows, my horse sunk up to her knees.
If you’ve read my past articles, you know how much I love seeing the history of the land I ride, and Williamsport doesn’t disappoint with recent history. The retired mining operation is still visible along the trails today in the form of old pipelines, concrete building foundations, forest roads, and hillside cut outs. Be sure to keep an eye out for the old army truck sitting alongside the trail. Though it now gives way to vines and saplings, it tells a story of hard work and heavy loads back when the mine was in operation.
The 15 miles of equestrian trails vary from wooded hillside and flatland paths to fields and management area roads. I recommend that you be an experienced rider on parts of this trail, simply because there are sections that can be hard to navigate due to vegetation and downed trees on steeper hillside trails. Most any skill level should be safe if you avoid these sections and ride the lowland trails, fields, and roads. The footing is rocky and should be ridden with a horse that’s shod or wearing hoof boots.
There are several things that I enjoy about this trail, but my favorites are the old mining relics you’ll find in the woods. Other interesting sights are the steel pipes that are now homes for local wildlife and, of course, the beautiful streams flowing downhill to feed the series of lakes on site. You can really imagine what the mining operation must have looked like, based on the footprints left behind. But Mother Nature never ceases to amaze me by how she will quickly reclaim even the biggest disturbances. She’ll hide them within her green cloak of forested ground cover, making things beautiful again and leaving just enough behind to spark our imagination of days gone by. Thank you to TWRA for making this land available to us trail riders and to the volunteers who help maintain it. For more information about Williamsport Lakes WMA please visit www.tnhorsetrails.com.
Editor’s Note: Also find information about Williamsport Lakes WMA at: https://www.tn.gov/twra/wildlife-management-areas/middle-tennessee-r2/williamsport-wma.html
Find Josh Guin at Crossroads Natural Horsemanship, 1875 Burke Hollow Rd., Nolensville, TN 37135
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