Soldiers and Families looking to get some exercise and fresh air have a network of trails available to them on the installation.
In addition to the post’s trails, there also are opportunities to explore nature in nearby communities.
From the restored prairie landscapes at Dunbar Cave State Park in Clarksville to the variety of wildlife at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in Kentucky, below is a look at the many different trails worth hiking.
Soldier and Family
The Soldier and Family Fitness Network provides Fort Campbell with a dedicated place to walk, run or bike across the installation with an ever-growing trail system just minutes from on-post housing.
“When you look at the installation, there’s just not a whole lot of connectivity for walking, bicycling and that type of activity,” said Ross Romero, community planner, Fort Campbell Directorate of Public Works, Master Planning Division. “The main goal is to start that connectivity, create loops and connect people from housing to social areas.”
The network extends from the Harper Village, Werner Park and Pierce Village housing areas to just inside the front gates and connects to locations including Memorial Row on Kentucky Avenue, where each brigade has sites dedicated to their fallen Soldiers.
“If you go from T.C. Freeman Gate to Gate 7, there’s pine trees that line the perimeter fence area, and we ran that trail straight through the middle of it so you’ve got some shade there,” Romero said. “People can walk it at all times of the day and it’s nice and comfortable. It’s beautiful, it’s a long stretch and people who are in those housing areas are using it quite a bit.”
Soldiers and Families also can explore the Gravel Gertie trail for approximately 4-5 miles at Clarksville Base, and Romero said DPW aims to eventually expand it into a complete loop.
“All around the rest of the installation with fitness trails, you’ve probably got another 6-7 miles available so far,” he said. “This year we’re doing an entire 1st BCT footprint paving project, and we’re going to continue the sidewalks all the way from Glider Avenue down to basically Division Headquarters, so that’ll be huge.”
DPW also is working on a project to extend an existing sidewalk from Harper Village out to Division Headquarters, which Romero said will form a north-south extension across the installation.
“From there, we want to have connections and laterals from all the brigade footprints and units to the installation’s social areas,” he said. “We’ve been in conflicts for the past 20 years, and it’s been stressful on Soldiers and Families, so anything we can do to get them out onto the trails and doing physical fitness is a huge benefit for morale.”
In the meantime, the community is welcome to enjoy the trail’s completed portions. Features include picnic tables, signs identifying local wildlife and pet clean-up stations so dogs can join in on the fun.
To report a trail area in need of repair, call DPW at 270-798-1200. A map of the trail is available online at https://home.army.mil/campbell/index.php/my-fort/all-services/recreation/soldier-family-fitness-network.
Oak Grove War
Memorial Walking Trail
The War Memorial Walking Trail at 101 Walter Garrett Lane in Oak Grove pays tribute to veterans from all U.S. wars and conflicts with a series of markers along the wooded route, which runs just under 1-mile long.
The trail includes a special monument to the Vietnam War and a poem dedicated to all Soldiers who served the country throughout history.
“It’s good for the mind and body to get some fresh air and see green trees by walking the trails and relaxing,” said Britnee Ohman, administrative assistant, Oak Grove Tourism Commission.
“It’s also a good history lesson to bring kids out here and teach them some things about the Soldiers,” she said.
While visiting War Memorial Park, Families also can enjoy a game of disc golf, spend some time at the playground, attend free events throughout the summer and check out the Viceroy Butterfly Garden.
“The garden’s covered in butterflies, squirrels and bunnies,” Ohman said. “All kinds of animals love to hang out there, and it’s really popular for photo sessions.”
Hand sanitizing stations are available at the park as a precaution against COVID-19, but all restrictions and mandates have been lifted, Ohman said. The park is open daily from dawn until dusk, and there are no fees associated with any activities.
Part of a nationwide effort to convert scenic abandoned railroads into walking and biking trails, the Greenway runs approximately 9 miles through North Clarksville along the Red River and West Fork Creek.
Native species of plants and animals can be spotted throughout the trail, and the 600-foot Raymond C. Hand Pass Bridge provides a popular backdrop for photos.
“Over the last year, outdoor recreation definitely became essential and I think people realized its importance,” said Ryan Sample, marketing coordinator, Clarksville Parks and Recreation. “Our parks and trails, especially the Greenway, offer really safe, scenic and beautiful environments for people to be able to bike, walk or run.”
The main trail head is located at 1101 Pollard Road, but Families also can access it through Mary’s Oak Drive or Heritage Park. Those looking to ride along the path can bring their own bicycles or rent one through the city’s BCycle program.
“You can rent a bike for 24 hours for $3 and return it to any BCycle station,” Sample said. “We have a few of them around town, and there’s a station at the Greenway. There is signage asking people not to ride past a certain point because of the hills and terrain.”
The Greenway is open from dawn to dusk and does not currently have COVID-19 restrictions.
“A lot of people who walk the Greenway like to walk up to the bridge, but as far as the other features it’s very scenic,” Sample said. “There’s lots of trees and shade, and it has a lot of good views because it was an old railroad. It’s just a family-friendly place to go.”
For more information and a map of the Greenway trail system, visit https://www.cityofclarksville.com/463/Clarksville-Greenway.
Dunbar Cave State Park
Dunbar Cave State Park at 401 Old Dunbar Cave Road in Clarksville is home to four hiking trails, along with prehistoric Mississippian Native American cave art dating back thousands of years.
Forest, prairie and wetland landscapes are all part of the scenery across the park, which means a chance to see a variety of wildlife.
“Green space is getting harder and harder to find, and Dunbar Cave is kind of a jewel in the center of Clarksville,” said Adam Neblett, park ranger. “It’s a wilderness right inside the city limits, and outside of the purely recreational aspect it’s the only place in the entire world where the public can see cave art from native Mississippian culture. It can only be found in the southeast in caves ... but Dunbar Cave is the only one open and accessible to the general public.”
Trail options include the Lake Trail (approximately 0.45 miles long), Short Loop (0.65 miles), Recovery Trail (1.45 miles) and Grassland Trail (0.75 miles).
“They connect to each other, so most people walk the whole thing, and if you do it’s roughly 3 miles,” Neblett said. “Most of the trails are in the woods, so you’d see the different types of forest, the animals, deer and things like that. Closer to the parking lot and the visitor’s center you can see the wetland area, and then we have our Three Sisters Garden where we’re growing corn squash and beans with a technique that’s been used for at least a thousand years by Native Americans.”
Dunbar Cave State Park is open 6 a.m.-8 p.m. daily during the summer, but the closing time moves earlier throughout the year as days grow shorter. There are currently no COVID-19 restrictions in place.
Hiking the trails is free, but guided cave tours and some of the park’s educational programs have fees.
“We highly recommend getting tickets ahead of time through our website,” Neblett said. “Tours are currently being offered seven days a week, four times a day – the first tour is at 9 a.m., then there’s an 11 a.m., a 1 p.m. and our final information tour at 3 p.m.”
For more about Dunbar Cave State Park, or to make reservations for a cave tour, visit https://tnstateparks.com/parks/dunbar-cave.
Land Between the Lakes
National Recreation Area
From a wide variety of trails to activities like boating, fishing and camping, Families can easily plan a day trip to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, or LBL. The Golden Pond Welcome Station, 80 Turkey Creek Road, Golden Pond, Kentucky, serves as the information hub of LBL and should be the first stop for visitors new to the recreation area.
“We’ve got hike and bike trails, trails more geared toward backpacking, some that are great for a day hike and some that are better with Families,” said Emily Cleaver, public affairs specialist, U.S. Forest Service, LBL. “There are historic trails as well as our Fort Henry trails system, and we even have horse trails so people can bring their horses out and places where you can set up rides.”
As a national recreation area, LBL has its share of history that sets it apart from many other natural forests and trails, Cleaver said.
“When people are out hiking they can expect to see different things along the way you might not typically get to see,” she said. “There are historical markers, old iron furnaces, a lot of wildlife and places for folks to come out and see. A lot of the trails actually will go up around the lake, so there are a lot of great spots to stop and enjoy the water as well.”
LBL’s longest trail is approximately 50 miles and runs the length of the area, but there are plenty of options for Families wanting something less daunting.
“If you were coming out with Family and you had younger kids, the Honker Trail and Hematite Lake Trail would be my recommendations,” Cleaver said. “They’re a bit shorter, and you can visit the Woodlands Nature Station while you’re there as well.”
The Woodlands Nature Station is part of LBL’s environmental education efforts and allows visitors to get up close and personal with a variety of animals. Hiking the trails is free and open daily, but the Woodlands Nature Station charges admission fees up to $7 depending on age group.
Visitors are asked to follow precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or local and state guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“These are your public lands,” Cleaver said. “It’s important to get out and enjoy nature, and getting kids out to experience those things when they’re young is critical to keep those activities going for future generations.”
For more about LBL, visit https://www.landbetweenthelakes.us/visit/visitor-center/.
The Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail in Ashland City, Tennessee, includes 6.7 miles of bike and hiking trails along the Cumberland River, with paved sections to accommodate street bikes, strollers and wheelchairs alike.
Marks Creek Trailhead, which spans the route’s first 3.7 miles to the Sycamore Creek Trailhead, has paving, public parking and wheelchair accessibility. Families can stop by a comfort station at Turkey Junction, located approximately 1.1 miles from Marks Creek and 2.8 miles from Sycamore Creek, for a rest before further exploring the trail.
The second half of the trail, known as Eagle Pass, runs for 3 miles through the Dyson Ditch Wildlife Refuge and ends near Cheatham Dam. The section is unpaved, so visitors with road bikes and strollers should avoid it, but hiker, mountain bikers and nature enthusiasts will find it more welcoming.
For directions and mapping, visit www.cumberlandrivertrails.org/location.