Shelby Bottoms Greenway

This is a bike trail in Nashville, Tennessee. We were there recently and parked at Two Rivers park across from the Grand Ole Opry house and Opry Mills shopping center. We crossed the Cumberland river on a very nice walking bridge with nice views of the river and city. We continued after a steep winding decline as the path follows the river toward downtown. This was not our first ride on the trail and I remembered the early years when it was first constructed among a vast pasture land next to the river. Due to flooding this valuable property could not be developed, but the grasslands were mowed for hay or pasture. After the city acquired the land many hiking and bike trails were created, along with a nature center that eventually connected miles of bike paths running from downtown to Percy Priest lake, Opryland, and Ingelwood, where the old Cornelia Fort airport is located.

The main trail along the river has grown up with scrub trees like Box Elder, Sycamore, Cedar, Bradford Pair and an occasional Mimosa, Pine or Elm. However, these trees are smothered by every invasive plant you can imagine, Japanese lilac, Privet Hedge, Briars, Vines, and Honeysuckle so close they form a wall of thickets on the side that was once a vast grassland. On the river bank side there remains old growth native plants like Cane and trees such as Maple, Oak, Walnut, Hickory, Ash and Hackberry, but these also must compete with the invasive species.

The compete bike trails are paved and the hiking trails are well maintained and mowed. However, it appears that the park management is either ignorant of long range thinking or has fallen prey to the ineptitude of political correctness, by letting “nature” do as it will. While it is true that an established forest will replant itself quite efficiently, the same is not true today with respect to establishing forest lands. This is a perfect illustration of neglect and acquiescence to invasive species that will never yield a valuable and desirable native habitat. Moreover, unrestrained overpopulation of Whitetail deer wreak havoc on native saplings, but ignore the invasive plants listed above.

It may be that the city did not want to spend the money to properly prepare and effect a forest plan, so it has become an overgrown weed patch. The State of Tennessee has foresters in every county and many tree nurseries to help create and manage private and public forest lands. It seems unlikely that State resources could not have been made available to help Nashville, but more likely that urban socialists who run inner-city matters have brought their ineptitude and failings to city park management.

Still, it is a nice bike path and well worth the money required to construct and maintain it. Rental bikes are  available in Two Rivers park and there were several families enjoying a walk, stroll or bike ride as were we. The great flood of 2010 ruined and closed Cornelia Fort Airport, but the Greenway connects to it so you can ride on the runways and read about its interesting history. There is also a bird observation structure in an area that is still maintained and likely is a decent place to watch birds. Many towns and cities have greenways and I encourage you to take time and enjoy a bike ride or walk as you are able. Include the whole family as it’s great exercise and a good time to talk with each other, and unless you’re a tree lover like me, you want notice the differences between the various plants.