Friday, October 31, 2014

Trail Review: Perimeter Trail; Bowie Nature Park

Bowie Nature Park in Fairview, TN

Bowie Nature Park trail map in Fairview, TN
Click map for larger image.
Trail: Perimeter Loop
Location: Bowie Nature Park; Fairview, TN
Trail Length: 4.7 Miles
Difficulty: Easy
Solitude: Moderate weekend crowds, good solitude during week

Before my recent visit, I hadn't been to Bowie Nature Park for more than fifteen years. Back then, the park was just developed (and didn't have an official name to my knowledge), was a bit difficult to find, and was used primarily for mountain bike trails. Now, however, the park is all grown up. Bowie appears to be exceptionally well-managed with picnic shelters, public restrooms, small lakes full of waterfowl, and trail maps at numerous kiosks. The trails themselves are very well-marked and maintained. My visit was on an unusually warm Sunday afternoon in late October. The park was beautiful as the fall colors were close to their peak. The parking lot was so crowded, I considered coming back on a more mellow day. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the trails were very secluded, and I only ran into a few other groups on my almost five mile hike. Be warned, however, that most of the trails are shared with horses and mountain bikers. A couple of the parties I encountered were on horseback, but I didn't run into any bikers, surprisingly (these trails look smooth, fast, and fun for easy biking.) Let's get into a brief overview of the hike itself…

Bowie Nature Park woods with fall colors

The Perimeter Trail at Bowie Nature Park is a simple but pleasing stroll through very gently rolling woods that border local farmland. As the name suggests, this trek mostly traces the outer border of the park. Several side trails allow for custom loops that offer more milage and access to small lakes (see the map above), but this review only pertains to the Perimeter Trail. The hike involves a couple of creek crossing, but I had no problem staying dry during my visit. I chose to take the hike counter-clockwise starting at the eastern edge of the park. The Perimeter Trail is bookended at each end by a service trail to access TVA power lines. After tracing the power lines for about a half-mile, you will take a quick turn westward into the density of the woods. The trail meanders along the northern edge, and while the map shows a crossing of Hickman Branch creek, it was dry during my visit. My favorite part of the trail came once I hit the southward turn upon reaching the western edge of the park. This section dips a bit in elevation and quick takes you to a crossing of Little Turnbull Creek. It also runs past a small cemetery that inhabits Confederate soldiers (the signage for this cemetery was a bit awkwardly "modern," in the syle of a metal highway road sign, in an otherwise rustic area.) Soon enough, you will catch back up with the southwest section of the TVA service road and will again hike along power lines for a short distance. Soon after, you will dip back into the woods again for another creek crossing, this time with a small foot bridge. After winding again through these gentle hills, you'll soon be back to the parking lot where you can enjoy the scenery of the park's central Lake Van.

Creek crossing at Bowie Nature Park
Little Turnbull Creek
Overall, this is a very easy, straightforward hike. These trails would be great for mountain-bikers looking for an easy, satisfying ride. Note, however, that the park requires a modest $2 fee for bikers and  horse-riders. The fee is self-service, so bring cash and correct change.

Bowie Nature Park central lake with fall colors reflected
The parks central lake makes for a nice area to hang out before and after the Perimeter hike.
  • Park Website
  • Phone: 615.799.5544
  • Address: 7211 Bowie Lake Road; Fairview, TN 37062

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