The stylish outpost of Nashville is one of our favorite southern stomping grounds. Music is certainly the heartbeat, but we also love the Tennessee capitol for its soulful sense of place – from meat-and-three lunch spots (watch out for their fire-hot fried chicken) to a tight-knit community of makers and entrepreneurs – right in middle of the soft, leafy rolling hills of the Highland Rim. For this month’s Everyday Adventures post, we sat down with Jason Thienel, owner of local adventure hub Cumberland Transit, for his ideas on getting outside this fall in Nashville and beyond.
IN THE CITY
When you’re staying in Nashville, hit Percy Warner Park for mountain and road biking, hiking and trail running. The park is one-half of a 2,700-acre treasure found only 20 minutes up Highway 100 from downtown Nashville. And just ten miles west, enjoy the beloved country kitchen, The Loveless Café, for heavenly biscuits and more.
Even in September, take full advantage of central Tennessee’s font of waterfalls and swimming holes. Due east of Nashville on I-40, the Sparta-Cookeville area has at least three splashy hikes worth an afternoon. The trails to Burgess Falls, Virgin Falls (gorgeous photo spot after a rain) and Cummins Falls wind through similar sheet rock formations to columns of rushing water that end in dreamy, blue-green swimming holes. Cummins makes for the most epic swimming.
The greenest half a million acres in America, Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers an incredible exploration into lush Deep South flora and the most Instagrammable overlooks you’ll find this side of the Rockies. Clingman’s Dome is a favorite. And September is awesome: summer temps are down and the fall color is just beginning to show. Whenever you go, start planning now for a trek to Mount LeConte, where you’ll discover one of America’s greatest hidden gems – a rustic logger’s retreat that predates FDR’s founding of the park. The best part? The only way to reach LeConte Lodge is by foot. Registered guests hike the five-plus miles of rhododendron and laurel up Alum Gap Cave Trail, and arrive just in time for front porch rocking chairs (or BYO Kammok) and homemade family supper. LeConte is a throwback in all the best ways.