Great Runs in Nashville
From its very beginnings, Nashville grew from a foundation built on music and earned it’s nickname as the Music City. It is located on the Cumberland River in the north-central part of Tennessee. The city is a center for the music, healthcare, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home to numerous colleges and universities. Running highlights include almost 80 miles of greenway trails along the Cumberland River and connecting city parks. There are lots of efforts to expand the greenway system in this fast-growing city. A big thank you to Fleet Feet Nashville for their help with this guide!
Nashville has fairly mild winters with occasional cold snaps, and hot, humid summers. Snow is rare. Rainfall is evenly spread throughout the year but is thunderstorm-y in spring and summer. Overall, a good running climate except for oppressive heat in summer.
Some of our favorite Nashville runs are accessible from downtown, but anything outside the city center generally requires a car as the transportation system is not extensive. There is a good bus and trolley system but no rail or metro. The airport is only 15–20 minutes from downtown.
- Metro Center Greenways
- Centennial Park
- Music Row
- Shelby Bottoms Greenway
- Richmond Creek Greenway
Metro Center Greenways/Nashville Tour
Right in the heart of downtown, this route explores the major landmarks of Nashville and Country Music. It’s part dedicated path and part road. Starting at the Nashville Public Library, this route heads North around the state capitol to Bicentennial Capitol Mall in order to enjoy several beautiful fountains. From the Capitol Mall, take a left to join the Cumberland River Greenway. This path runs along the river and passes Fort Nashboro, a historic log stockade dating back to 1779. Take a Right onto Broadway and a quick Left on 3rd Ave S to pass the Johnny Cash Museum. If choosing longer route, use the John Seigenthaler pedestrian bridge to cross the Cumberland River. Loop around Nissan Stadium, home to the Tennessee Titans, and join the East Bank Greenway. After you wind through Cumberland Park, retrace the route back over the pedestrian bridge. Once across the river stay straight on Symphony Pl. until you see the Nashville Music Garden and Music City Walk of Fame. After you pass the Country Music Hall of Fame, take a Right onto 7th Ave S to return to the Nashville Public Library. This route is accessible to all downtown hotels and can be shortened to accommodate all levels. The shorter version of our route does not include the jaunt over to Nissan Stadium or the East Bank Greenway.
3.6 mile RT. Start: Owen Bradley Park MAP
Nice add-on: campus of Vanderbilt University
Music Row is the heart of Nashville’s entertainment industry. This area is home to numerous record labels, publishing houses, music licensing firms, recording studios, video production houses, as well as radio stations and MusicRow Magazine. Many out-of-towners often assume that the country music that Nashville is famous for comes from downtown on Broadway, but in reality, Music Row is where you want to be. This route begins at Owen Bradley Park, which features a life-size statue of Bradley, a notable songwriter, performer and publisher, behind a piano. Continue away from the roundabout down 16th Ave S (also known as Music Square East) until you hit Wedgewood Ave. Take a Left on Wedgewood Ave then a quick Right on Belmont Circle to pass the Belmont Mansion. Take a right to follow 21st Ave S. until you see the beautiful Wyatt Center (pictured on left above) on Vanderbilt’s campus. Run through the Esplanade and take a Right onto Edgehill Ave. Rejoin Music Row by taking a Left on 17th Ave S (Music Square West). If you staying in this neighborhood, this route is in your backyard. To add on to this run, the campus of Vanderbilt University is very pleasant.
Centennial Park/Vanderbilt University
2.5 mile RT. Start/End The Parthenon in Centennial Park. MAP
Centennial Park, located in midtown Nashville, is home to Nashville’s Parthenon — a replica of the Athenian Parthenon and featuring American art galleries. This park is also a scene for local musicians, food trucks and hipster locals. Our route starts by circling the lake right next to the Parthenon then continues on to tour the lovely campus of Vanderbilt University. This route is 2 miles from downtown with plenty of street parking nearby.
Shelby Bottoms Greenway
7.8 miles out-and-back. Start: Shelby Park Nature Center MAP
Shelby Bottoms Greenway is a beautiful, paved trail with impressive views of the Cumberland River. As you run along the river, keep your eye out for Spot Opryland’s General Jackson Riverboat. The trail is nearly 4 miles one-way, with quarter-mile markers. It’s a good bet in hot weather due to nice shade. The Nature Center is a 15 minute drive East of the city, with plenty of parking. The northern terminus of the trail is just south of Opryland. Across the river is also Wave Country Water Park and a public golf course.
Richland Creek Greenway
2.8 miles RT Start: McCabe Golf Course Clubhouse MAP
Richland Creek Greenway is one of many of Nashville’s evolving system of greenways. It is located about 15 minutes West of downtown and is also accessible by Bus route 50. Parking in available at the McCabe Trailhead (adjacent to the Golf Course Clubhouse). This greenway features a multi-use trail that loops around McCabe Park, a 1-mile portion that follows Richland Creek as well as a 1-mile portion that follows the railroad tracks between White Bridge Pike and Cherokee Road. Rail history buffs will want to stop at the White Bridge Road trailhead, where there is a historical marker for Dutchman’s Curve, the site of the Great Train Wreck of 1918, one of the worst rail accidents in the county’s history. If you are looking for a longer route, with all the connector spurs you add 1.25 miles each way for a total distance of 5.25 miles (see MAP).
- Warner Parks
- Stones Rivers Greenway
- River Park
Percy Warner and Edwin Warner Park are collectively known as Warner Parks. They are located 30 minutes south of downtown. The Warner Parks are the largest municipally administered parks in Tennessee and together span 2684 acres of forest and field. The historic entrance is marked by “The Allee”, an impressive set of stone steps. No matter what distance you’re looking to accomplish, this park has a route for you. However, be prepared, these parks are known for their hills. If you’re up for a challenge, head up to the top of the hill in Percy Warner Park and enjoy views of the Nashville skyline.
Stones River Greenway
8.0 miles one-way MAP
Stones River Greenway is one of Nashville’s evolving system of greenways throughout the city. The Stones River Greenway is a multi-use trail that gets its name by running parallel to the Stones River for much of its length. This trail is 12 miles east of downtown and 5 miles south of the airport, and connects to the Shelby Bottoms Greenway, mentioned above, at the Cumberland River by the dam. Parking is available at the J. Percy Priest Dam (3734 Bell Road), Heartland Park trailhead (3135 Heartland Drive), YMCA trailhead (3001 Lebanon Road), Two Rivers Park, and Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge (3114 McGavock Pike).
5.3 mile RT. Start: In the Park. MAP
River Park is part of the City of Brentwood’s extensive multi-use trail system. This route features easy, rolling hills and a wide, paved path dotted with benches, bathrooms, water fountains, and emergency call boxes. Starting at the picnic shelter in River Park, follow the trail south along the Little Harpeth River. Just after your first mile, there is a fork in the trail. Bear left to loop through Crockett Park. Exit the Park along Volunteer Pkwy take a right onto Crockett Rd and then a quick left onto Wilson Pike. Rejoin the multi-use trail on the right hand side of Wilson Pike and head north to return to your starting point. There is ample, free parking available in the lot adjacent to the picnic shelter and playground.
Nashville hotels are focused primarily in downtown and Music Row. If staying downtown, there’s good access to the Metro Center Greenways, Music Row, and Centennial Park routes. Closer to Opryland/Music Valley, the Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Stones Rover Greenway are good bets. The Stones River Greenway is also the best running option near the airport. The Convention Center is in the heart of downtown.
There are three main running stores in Nashville as well as a few factory stores and national retailers. No specialty running stores are located directly downtown but there are multiple stores just a few miles in any direction. See the Running Overview map for store locations. A big thank you to Fleet Feet Nashville for helping with this guide!
Fleet Feet Sports Locations in Green Hills and Brentwood Locations.
Nashville Running Company Locations in Westgate Center and Five Points.
Team Nashville Owned and operated by two local runners. Located in Midtown/Vanderbilt neighborhood.
Gulch Running Club Meet at Nashville Chiropractic (1200 Division St.) at 6:30 PM for an easy 4 mile run through the Gulch and surrounding neighborhoods followed by pizza and craft beer at Hops n Crafts on 12th.
Nashville Running Company Westgate Center. Hosts group runs Tuesday evenings in Percy Warner Park and Thursday mornings from the West side store. All levels are welcome.
Nashville Striders Group meets varies places on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. See website for details and run coordinator contacts.
Nashville Running Company Five Points. Hosts 3–5 mile group run Friday mornings from the East side store. All levels are welcome
East Nasty Running Club This Running group meets every Wednesday at 6am and 6pm at the corner of 11th and Holly. Routes are between 3–6 miles. More than 150 runners take on the evening run
South of the City
Green Hills Run Club 3–5 mile run or walk Mondays starting from Green Hills Fleet Feet.
Tin Roof 2 Runnin’ Crew Meets every Monday at 6pm for a Cool Springs Pub Run.
South Side Runner Thursday nights at 6:15 this group meets in front of Blue Coast Burrito (6900 Lenox Village Dr.) for a fun run and social hour.
Brentwood Breakfast Club Run/walk followed by breakfast on Thursday mornings at 6am. Routes range from 4–6 miles.
Nolensville Running Club Meets at Nolensville Town Hall (7218 Nolensville Road) at 6:15 every Wednesday for a 3–6 mile run/walk. Runners of all levels are welcome.
Some of the major events are:
St. Jude Rock N’ Roll Marathon April. Also a half marathon and 5K.
Tom King Classic March. Half Marathon and 5K.
Andrews Cadillac Firecracker 5K/10K July 4th.
Purity Moosic City Dairy Dash April. 5K/10K/15K
Girls on the Run 5K May.
The Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon November. Featured in Marathon & Beyond and in Runners’ World magazines. Very Hilly.
12 South Winter WarmUp December. 6K and 12K
Harvest Half Marathon October.