Opt outside this summer

Lower School Naturalist Teacher Lauren Hagan offers families options for enjoying the outdoors while away from 2000 Edgehill for June, July, and early-August.
By Lauren Hagan, LS Naturalist Teacher

In “Last Child in the Woods” Richard Louv writes, “Time in nature is not leisure time; it’s an essential investment in our children’s health (and also, by the way, in our own).” 

I’ve begged and pleaded with our Lower School naturalists to get outside as much as possible this summer, and with this list, I invite all in the University School of Nashville community to do the same:
 
Less than an hour from Nashville, the park has two lakes, a network of trails (even some constructed by our own Utility Technician Jason Meadows), and a beautiful campground. Book a creekside campsite and explore this stunning park. 

Located in Fairview, this park is great for exploring and watching wildlife. Look for geese, deer, ducks, woodpeckers, late-summer wildflowers, snakes, frogs, fungi, and more. 

Navigate the Tree Trail
Pick up a map at the Wilderness Station at Barfield Crescent Park in Murfreesboro and put your navigational skills to the test as you journey along the Tree Trail. As you walk, you’ll encounter twelve different species of trees — identify as many as you can and make time to learn more about unknown species too. 

Did you know that the Duck is one of the most biologically diverse rivers in North America? With class one rapids, this is a gentle float, and you can look for waterfowl or any of the sixty-five species of freshwater mussels that live there. 

Great for both bike rides and walks, this paved path is perfect for peaceful pedaling. Be on the lookout for great blue herons, kingfishers, turtles, and other native wildlife. 

Located in Ashland City on the very edge of the Western Highland Rim, this park is great because it’s less crowded than some of the other parks in Nashville. There are many trails to choose from and Henry’s Creek is a great place to explore and dip your toes in the refreshing water. 

Roll the windows down and cruise. Dawn and twilight are ideal times on the Trace. As you head down the road, look for owls, hawks, vultures, deer, groundhogs, bats, and late-summer wildflowers. Just be sure to check for alerts and road closures before you go.

Chase waterfalls
Ignore TLC, get outside and go find some of Tennessee’s incredible waterfalls. Did you know our state is home to more than 800? Some of my favorites are Burgess Falls, which you can kayak to the base of, Jackson Falls on the Natchez Trace, Machine Falls, Greeter Falls, Virgin Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. And, if you’re near the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains, check out Midnight Hole; your fearless naturalist teacher even jumped off this one. 

Explore the Appalachian Trail
Do I even have to mention it? Everyone knows I love the AT. One of my favorite backpacking trips is to hike from Carver’s Gap to 19E near Roan Mountain, Tenn. This one is further away, but well worth the trip. Mountain Harbor Hostel will provide shuttle services if needed. 

Find more activities and resources here. I can’t wait to hear all about your summer adventures. Stay curious beyond Edgehill and have a safe, magical summer. 
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    • Lower School Naturalist Teacher Lauren Hagan jumps off a rock at Midnight Hole.

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