Tucked away just south of Nashville's downtown, Fort Negley offers million-dollar views for only a little effort. The almost-flat paved route around the outside of the fort is short and sweet. You can ascend a mixture of paved and gravel trails to the interior of the fortifications at the top of the hill. Boardwalks and grass allow you to run around between impressive 360-degree views of the city.
What Makes It Great
Fort Negley has a rich and dense history, and informational boards around the loop trail educate the visitor about the site and its importance in Nashvillian and U.S. history. You might as well learn something while taking a water break or stretching your legs, right? The fort is a unique and evocative place, and the views from the top are stunning. During the Civil War, the fort was built as the largest stone fortification existing inland. Nashville became fortified in 1862, after surrendering to the Union Army in the Civil War.
The fort's ruins were reconstructed by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, and the present-day park is an invigorating short run that is steeped in Nashville history. The Fort Negley Visitors Center, just by the gates to the park, provides historical context and more detailed information regarding the fort. This is a great park because it's near downtown, just to the southwest of Nashville's iconic skyline. Yet, it's not usually over-crowded.
Who is Going to Love It
Fort Negley is a great escape for a quick run, and leashed dogs are welcome to run with you around the park. Personally, I love running in historical places for the context and the interesting perspective on a modern city. The loop trail is shaded by trees, and this is a great trail for those who are new to running and looking to build the mileage that they are capable of covering. The circuit could be used for easy training at higher mileages. Fort Negley is a good location for visitors and locals alike to squeeze in some running time without leaving the city. The main outer trail is wheelchair-accessible and offers diverse scenery as you travel around the base of the fort.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Fort Negley is just a short distance from downtown Nashville. Take 8th Avenue South to the intersection with Chestnut Street. Take a left onto Chestnut Street, then left again onto Fort Negley Blvd. There is plentiful off-road parking at the visitor center - hours vary according to the season. The center is open Tuesday through Saturday throughout the year, and closes at 4:00 p.m. most days. Restrooms are available in the visitors center during opening hours. The park is open year-round during daylight hours.