In the heat of summer, when it’s too stuffy to stay inside, lots of people like to take advantage of the sunshine and participate in outdoor recreational activities. In addition to being one of the safest ways to enjoy time with your family and friends while still maintaining good social distancing, there are many health benefits to regular exercise and outdoor recreation. One of the quickest and most accessible ways to start up a new outdoor activity is to walk on one of Nashville’s extensive network of greenways.

According to Greenways for Nashville, Greenways are “linear parks and trails that connect neighborhoods to schools, parks, transportation, shopping and work. Often located along natural landscape features like streams, rivers, and ridges, or along built features, such as railroad corridors and scenic highways, greenways provide valuable greenspace for conservation, recreation and alternative transportation.”  states that are over 300 miles of trails as of December 2019, and new trails continue to be developed. There are specialty trails for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and Blueway trails for paddling, as well as 99 miles of paved walking and biking trails. All these trails are free and open to the public. Find the trailhead closest to you by viewing the map available on Greenways for Nashville, and then grab your favorite pair of walking shoes and hit the trails. I like to sometimes bring an audiobook or my favorite music to listen to when I go walking, and many people also like to bring their dogs. It’s always more fun walking with a friend, and FiftyForward centers often have walking clubs that visit area parks and greenways. Check out our calendars to keep up with all of the activities at our centers.

There are rules one should be aware of when traversing the greenways, especially as a walking pedestrian sharing the space with bikers and runners. Keep to the right side of the trail, and pass people on the left. Keep pets on leashes no longer than six feet. Give an audible signal when passing someone, such as saying “on your left!” Stay on the designated trails, and please remember to keep all trash either with you or in designated trash receptacles. Some of the safety tips Greenways for Nashville recommends are to go with a friend, to leave your valuables at home or hidden out of sight in your car but keep your car keys with you, and to watch for unexpected slippery or uneven trails or bridges. Some sections of the greenways are in areas prone to flash flooding, and it is advised to keep an eye on the weather before heading out and to exit the trail immediately during heavy rains.

When biking the trails, make sure to always yield to pedestrians, and signal when passing. Pass on the left just as you would if you were walking or jogging. Slow down around curves and down hills to maintain a safe speed throughout. Always be cautious in places in where the trail crosses a road, and never forget your helmet and other safety and visibility gear. Before you leave, check your bike to make sure everything is in good working condition, and bring a patch kit in case of a sudden flat tire.

No matter your favorite way of enjoying the greenways, with these tips you can have a safe and enjoyable time and come back again and again for new adventures.