Easy, rolling hills and a wide, paved path almost completely separated from vehicle traffic make the River Park to Ravenwood High School out and back course feel like a haven from typical road running. The course is scenic — the majority of the run is free of direct sun and sandwiched between twisted woods or following the course of the Little Harpeth River. With five emergency call boxes along the eight mile course and the occasional company of other walkers, runners, and cyclists, this trail feels safe without also feeling crowded.
What Makes It Great
This mostly traffic-free course is all about access, freedom from road hazards and runner amenities. It is an ideal place to log eight miles, with the easy possibility of adding more or docking a few. Toss in a few rolling climbs — a total of 240 feet over the course — and this path has it all. A part of the City of Brentwood’s extensive trail system, the course uses the entirety of the city’s red trail and a portion of the yellow trail. It’s simple to find and dotted with benches, bathrooms, a water fountain, and emergency call boxes.
Heading out from the picnic shelter at River Park, follow the paved trail left across the foot bridge, past the YMCA’s soccer fields and into the woods where your only company for about the next 1.5 miles will be other trail users. The course offers paved links with several housing developments and parking areas, but don’t be tempted to follow them— the only time you’ll make a turn onto a different path on this run is when you take a right at the sign to follow the trail to Ravenwood High, about 1.5 miles into the course.
After about a half mile on the trail as it borders Wilson Pike, the only time you’ll experience traffic, you will dive back onto the secluded path, across a stream and up a short switchback. A bathroom and water fountain sit at the top. For the next two miles you’ll run past a restored 1830's one room school house, through more woods, past farmland and onto a little used road bordering the railroad tracks. A sharp left turn through a tunnel at the end of the road dumps you out just shy of the four mile mark. Take a left, enjoy a short climb and you’ve reached your turnaround point — Ravenwood High School.
Who is Going to Love It
Runners who are looking for a scenic trail with a few rolling hills and little car traffic will love this course for its seclusion. If you’re running with a jogging stroller the path offers a smooth ride free of hazards. And although not completely shaded, the path has enough foliage to break the beating sun or provide great wind break from those cold middle Tennessee winter gusts. The presence of a bathroom and water fountain on the course as well as at the start point make this a great trail to incorporate into a longer training run.
Runners looking for a fast course will also find this one welcoming. Although the trail is not flat, the climbs are moderate and offer a great place to do some challenging fartleks or other speed work.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
This course starts just across the street from the Brentwood Public Library. Ample, free parking is available both there and in the lot adjacent to the picnic shelter and playground at the trail head. Clean, well maintained bathrooms can be found both in the library during open hours and unlocked near the shelter from dawn to dusk.
Walkers and runners on the course are asked to stay to the right unless passing another user, and cyclists are asked to ride slowly. Users with dogs are asked to keep them on a short leash.