Thanks to a private/public partnership which began in 2010 between the Harris family, Friends of Radnor Lake and the State of Tennessee, this 6-year, 89-acre, $4 million expansion is nearing completion.
FINAL TRACT LAND ACQUISITION: FRANKLIN ROAD ACCESS
Click on this link to print a Harris Ridge Trail Project pledge form to mail a check: Printable Pledge Form
Public Lands Day lets Radnor shine
by Mary Hance, firstname.lastname@example.org 8:02 a.m. CDT September 16, 2016 (Photo: Robin Conover)
I know that with a million annual visitors, beloved Radnor Lake State Natural Area does not need any more publicity or any more hikers on its crowded trails.
But ever since I read about the latest phase of land that was recently added to this pristine urban state park, I have wanted to get out there and see the new digs.
Ms. Cheap hugs an enormous Tulip Poplar during a hike on the new property at Radnor Lake. (Photo: Robin Conover)
I love Radnor’s trails and walk the main 2.4 mile Lake Trail fairly often, but I was lucky enough last week to get a preview hike on some of the newly added property, with park manager Steve Ward, who will be leading more than 30 interpretive hikes there throughout the fall, including a special Public Lands Day kickoff hike on Friday
The 18-acre land Radnor acquisition that our hike explored is Phase II of a six year, 89-acre $4 million expansion of the park, which was made possible through a creative partnership between the state of Tennessee, Friends of Radnor Lake and the Harris family that owned the land and agreed to sell it below market value in order to preserve it for future generations.
It is a wonderful and generous partnership and the land is beautiful. And rugged. And yes, you need a ranger to lead the way because not only is it super steep, but there is no path, no trail, just raw beautiful woods.
The Phase II and Phase III Harris land, which can be seen from Interstate 65 and from an observation area on the north side of the lake along the Lake Trail, is not yet open to the public (except for special hikes like this one) but with its Franklin Road footage and incredible overlooks, it is sure to be a well traveled treasure for nature lovers once trails are added.
There is no firm date for its opening to everyday walkers/hikers, but meanwhile look for opportunities like these ranger led outings that you sign up for at the Radnor park office.
Friday afternoon’s pre-Public Lands Day Land Acquisition Day Hike is a two hour “strenuous” excursion through the “new” land. It will be co-led by Ranger Ward, Dr. Robert Loeb of Penn State and Dr. Doug Heffington of MTSU, both of whom are conducting research on the property.
If you go, you will get to see the view from the ridgetop, and learn about the watershed, past land uses of the property, and some of the wildlife and natural features of this chunk of land. You will also get to hug a massive Tulip Poplar that is 154 inches around. (The tree tied for the Davidson County Big Tree award in the Tulip Poplar category)
Be forewarned that Ranger Ward will announce at the beginning of the hike that rattlesnakes (plural) have been spotted on the land and he will advise you to conduct a thorough body check for ticks after you get home.
Mercifully, I did not encounter any rattlesnakes on my visit but I did delicately remove three tiny ticks once I got home. Phew!
Even so, I was thrilled to get a chance to walk (climb is more like it) this new land.
The Harris property brings the total Radnor acreage to 1,400 acres, and the long range plan is to build a 2- to 3-mile Harris Ridge Trail, that will be similar to the Ganier Ridge hike and will include a bridge over Lakemont Drive, to connect the Franklin Pike tracts to the existing Otter Creek Road property. Radnor officials are also (desperately) hoping that a new 100 car parking area will be added, with Franklin Road access.
“With a million new people expected to come into the area, we want to be ready to offer a unique hiking experience and wildlife observation opportunities,” Ward said.
The Friday hike (and others on the Radnor fall calendar) is free but registration is required and they can only take 20 people. To reserve a spot, call 615-373-3467. Details: see radnorlake.org or tnstateparks.com/parks/events/radnor-lake.
As Ward says about the new park property: “It is the bomb — It’s the land that’s important. Land is forever.”
Reach Ms. Cheap at 615-259-8282. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/mscheap, and at Tennessean.com/mscheap, and on Twitter @Ms_Cheap, and catch her every Thursday at 11 a.m. on WTVF-Channel 5’s “Talk of the Town.”
Radnor Lake State Natural Area, 1160 Otter Creek Road in Nashville, just eight miles from downtown. 615-373-3467. The L&N Railroad created the lake in 1914 to provide water for its steam engines. It became the first state designated “natural area” when bolstered by strong public support, the original 747 acres were purchased by the state in 1973. Today, it is a day use only park, consisting of 1,400 acres (including the new Harris land) and six miles of trails, as well as the Barbara J. Mapp Aviary Education Center that opened in 2015 and houses several birds of prey ranging from great horned owls to bald eagles. First time visitors are encouraged to explore the Walter Criley Visitor Center to see interpretive exhibits on the park’s history, as well as cultural/historical artifacts, wildlife displays, and a wall size map of the trail system. You can also watch an 18 minute film on how the natural area was saved in the early 1970s.
What is Public Lands Day?
National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. It is celebrated annually on the last Saturday in September. Many parks have trail building and park maintenance projects for volunteers to work on and some have hikes and other activities. All of the Tennessee State Parks have events. www.nationaldaycalendar.com/national-public-lands-day-last-saturday-in-september.
“A study published in the “Journal of Environmental Psychology” found that simply by being exposed to nature improves not only your mood but your behavior as well.” — “Real Simple” magazine.
National Trails Day activities on Saturday in Tennessee State Parks
There is a two mile easy Stone Door Hike at South Cumberland State Park. The Great Stone Door was used for centuries by the Indians as a passage way from the top of the plateau into the gorges below. Like a giant door left ajar, the crack is 10 feet wide and 100 feet deep! The surrounding cliffs offer spectacular views across the Savage Gulf State Natural Area. 931-924-2980
Celebrate Public Lands Day and Tennessee Statehood Day and Early Nashville History day with a hike at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Join a park ranger at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. for a mile long walk around the State Capitol Building and learn about how the state of Tennessee was formed and how Nashville grew to become its capitol. This walk will begin at the Bicentennial Mall Visitor Center underneath the railroad trestle and will also encompass the State Capitol Building and grounds, 615-741-5280
Montgomery Bell State Park has two “Ride with a Ranger” bike rides, including a challenging 3-mile mountain bike ride on the mountain bike trails at 11 a.m. and a 1 mile “easy” bike ride in the park at 1 p.m. Contact Ranger Eric at 615-797-9052, Ext. 16.
There is National Public Lands Day Boat Float on Kelly Lake in Standing Stone State Park from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. where you can try out paddle boards, kayaks and canoes at no charge with ranger supervision. 800-713-5157
In addition to the Public Lands Day kickoff hike on Friday, Radnor has a Sept. 24 Aviary afternoon from 1 p.m. – sunset where you can tour the aviary, enjoy a bird of prey program and view the four birds of prey that live at Radnor. And there is a 1 p.m. hike of the trails in Radnor with Dr. Robert Loeb of Penn State who will talk about his scientific research at Radnor. Reserve a spot by stopping by the Visitor Center or calling 615-373-3467.
All of these are free. For more hikes or project work for volunteers, see tnstateparks.com