Bring your moxie, bring two water bottles, bring your granny gear, this ride is for those who love challenging climbs. Of course, the downhills are the reward, though somehow they never last as long. This is a glorious loop through the treasured and stately Percy Warner Park in the posh neighborhood of Belle Meade. It is 11.2 winding, roller-coaster miles on paved road, but can be shortened with a left-hand turn at 3.4 miles to make it a 6-mile loop (follow sign that points left for Belle Meade Entrance). The steepest sections are the 200-foot, ½-mile climb at mile 3, and a 220-foot, 0.6-mile climb at “9-Mile Hill.”
What Makes It Great
This loop provides a suburban oasis where cyclists breathe in the fresh air of the forest. While the route is demanding, it is pleasantly devoid of much car traffic, and the road is surrounded by trees that offer cyclists decent protection from wind, rain, and beating sun. There is a friendly neighborhood feel, with dog-owners walking their pooches, clusters of hikers, and plenty of cyclists. Neighbors help neighbors here, so if you have a flat, you can rest assured that someone will stop to help. Still, you’re on your own to power up those relentless hills. The ride is enjoyable in all seasons – blooming in spring, protected in hot summers, beautiful awash in fall colors, and offering views of the city during barren winters. Be on the lookout for wild turkeys, owls, deer, and other wildlife. Also, take a moment to look out over the steeplechase, a pristine horseracing course at the turning point of the larger loop.
There is no other bike route in Nashville that provides the challenges, the trees, and the vistas that this loop has in spades. Local cyclists flock here mornings, afternoons, and weekends, as a respite from the traffic. While very convenient to bustling Green Hills, Belle Meade, West Meade and Bellevue, it is a world apart.
Who is Going to Love It
The Percy Warner loop is perfect for road bike warriors who like an uphill climb. Local cyclists seeking an in-town ride removed from traffic can often been seen chasing workout friends up the hills. While riders in the street must ride single file, here cyclists are allowed to ride side-by-side. Riders who enjoy a speedy clip, rather than the 15 mph limit set on greenways, or the stop-and-start of city riding, certainly appreciate this route. Those with little climbing experience can shift to the lowest gear and build their strength and stamina as they attempt an attack on the hills. The difficulty of the ride weeds out families with kids, so parents needing time away from little ones enjoy this adult playground.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
A lightweight road bike is recommended to ease the burden on the climbs. The route is one-way, starting to the right. Follow signs for Running Route. The park is open from sunrise to 11pm. Use caution after weather events as forest debris is carried into the roadway.
Curbside parking is available at the entrance to the park. An overflow lot across from the entrance, on Page Road, is used on busy days. If you pedal to the park, be aware that you must ride single file on streets in Belle Meade.