With a more limited selection of entertainment options these days, there’s literally never been a better time to enjoy the great outdoors — and in that department, Franklin has all you could ask for.
Just beyond its borders, you’ll find lush, tree-covered hills, the meandering Harpeth and Little Harpeth Rivers, and picturesque countryside, making Williamson County one of the most scenic spots in all the South.
Here are some of our favorite ways to make the most of Franklin’s natural beauty.
As someone who’s hiked nearly every trail in Middle Tennessee, I can tell you with confidence the hiking trails around Franklin are some of the best you’ll find in the region.
We’re big fans of the trails at Franklin’s Timberland Park off the Natchez Trace Parkway, Owl’s Hill Nature Sanctuary, Fairview’s Bowie Park and Nature Center, Brentwood’s lovely Marcella Vivrette Smith Park, and Preservation Park in Thompson’s Station. For more on each of these trails, I took a deeper look here.
Franklin Fly Fishing
Just outside Franklin, the Harpeth River is a favorite spot for catching smallmouth and largemouth bass and now, even novices can get in on the fun. Franklin Fly Fishing Co. offers guided fly fishing expeditions year-round and provides the boat and all the equipment you and your companions need for an afternoon of fun. Want to simply relax and enjoy the river? No problem – Franklin Fly Fishing Co. also offers pleasure cruises.
Paddle Dog Adventures
You’ll often see folks enjoying kayaks and stand-up paddleboards on the lake in front of Franklin’s Westhaven community, but you might not have known that the lakeside boathouse renting those kayaks also offers floats down the Harpeth River.
Paddle Dog Adventures will shuttle you to the put-in, pick you up downstream, and provide all the gear you need for a two-hour river adventure. If you love kayaking, this is a fantastic option — As most locals can tell you, the larger kayak/canoe renters offering runs closer to Nashville tend to draw thousands on the weekends, making peace, quiet, and social distancing on the water all but impossible.
Paddle Dog Adventures offers floats on Saturdays and Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. You’ll need to schedule your trip at least seven days in advance.
Brentwood Trail System
If you enjoy walking, jogging, rollerblading, or riding a bike, prepare to fall in love with Brentwood’s paved trail system. It includes eight interconnected trails that wind through forests, fields, and neighborhoods and connect you to city parks, the library, the Williamson County Recreation Center, the YMCA, and more.
We particularly love this trail system in the summertime for its flat, shady paths and proximity to the very shallow Little Harpeth River, which is a great water play spot for kids. Check out the trail system map to help plan your next adventure.
Pedego Electric Bike Rentals
If you’re anything like me, you love bike riding until it comes to the hills — and in Tennessee, there are lots of them! You can stick with the mercifully flat Brentwood Trail System or you can rent electric bikes from Pedego Electric Bikes in Franklin.
For just $14 an hour or $50 a day, ride a bicycle that gives you electric assistance only when you need it. Sounds like the perfect solution to me! Pedego bikes are perfect for longer bike trips on the scenic roads around Franklin. You can also schedule a guided Pedego bike tour of historic Franklin or a leisurely ride to nearby Leiper’s Fork.
Want more ideas on where to ride bikes in and around Franklin? We’ve got you covered here.
Whether you prefer a paved trail or more rugged terrain, you’ll find it in Franklin. The Park at Harlinsdale Farm is a popular option with runners – It has several miles of mostly-flat trails perfect for casual joggers and exercise buffs.
The Brentwood Trail System, mentioned above, offers miles of paved trails tailor-made for runners. Trail runners will love Fairview’s massive Bowie Park, which has miles of trails. The park’s 4.7-mile Perimeter Trail, in particular, is very popular with runners and is often used for cross-country practices. Need more options? Find out why running is just better in Franklin here.
The Natchez Trace Parkway
One of the easiest ways to enjoy scenic views and sweet, sweet nature is by taking a drive (or for the more athletically inclined, a bike ride) down the federally protected Natchez Trace Parkway.
Some of the parkway’s most popular stops are right here in Franklin, including the iconic Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge and several pull-offs offering overlooks that will take your breath away. Download a map of the parkway and all its features here, and enjoy the views.
Pick Up Your Gear in Franklin
Outdoor enthusiasts won’t want to leave Franklin without stopping by Bink’s Lodge to stock up on supplies. The store on Columbia Avenue is the place to go in Franklin for fishing and hunting equipment and cool outdoorsy gear and accessories from brands like Orvis and YETI. Bink’s knowledgeable employees will help make sure you get exactly what you need no matter your skill level.
If you’re looking for hiking or camping gear, check out Mountain High Outfitters in Cool Springs for hiking boots, packs, sleeping bags, and more.