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701 Missing a Turn
on the
Harpeth Woods Trail

Running on the Old Natchez Trace

Sunday, we went for a hike in Warner Parks, Nashville. Because of a few medical issues, we have not been hiking since a short hike in the Tetons almost a month and a half ago. So, any hike sounded good to me, but since Jake, the dog, was hiking with us, a hike with water close by sounded even better.

We decided to hike the very familiar Harpeth Woods Trail in Edwin Warner Park. Parking at the Nature Center we planned to go counter-clockwise around the loop trail, but with a little side trip to the Harpeth River for Jake to swim.

Starting from the trailhead we followed the Old Natchez Trace as it followed along Vaughn Creek. The flat, shaded path made for a quick walk. As Jake stopped to smell the trees, a couple of women caught up with us and continued following us back a hundred feet or so.

Continuing our stop, smell, and go walking with our dog, Jake, we could hear the women behind us as they chattered non-stop. Even though we generally enjoy our peace and quiet, they really did not bother us. We knew that the trail would turn left in a short distance and we were not going to make the turn. Instead, we were going to continue straight, leaving the trail and taking an unofficial trail that connected to the Harpeth River Greenway.

We passed the junction, where the Harpeth Woods Trail turns left and climbs through a rocky cedar glade. We were expecting the chatty women to turn at the junction, but then didn't. They continued to follow us.

It took me a short time before I began wondering why the hikers were still following us. Finally, we stopped and I asked lightheartedly, "So, are you hiking the trail or are you just following us?"

"Oh, we are just following you," one hiker said smiling.

"Well, did you know you missed the left turn?"

"You mean, we are not on the trail?"

"No, the trail turned a short ways back. We are headed to the greenway."

"Oh, thanks," they said as they turned about face and went seeking the missed turn.

Whether they were following us or not, really did not matter to us. They were noisy, but if their chatting grew louder, we would have put more space between us by either slowing down or speeding up. Eventually, I questioned the hikers because, I thought they were following us by default. We went straight, so they also went straight - and assuming we were following the trail.

If I had not said anything to them I am sure they would have figured their mistake out when they reached the intersection with the greenway. Of course, they probably would have scratched their heads and said, 'where did the trail go?'

Unconsciously following someone is a good way to not go where you are intending. Hiking is more than just putting one foot in front of the other. While hiking we have to be alert and always aware of our surroundings. At each trail junction, we need to stop and ask ourselves - where the trail is going? On an unfamiliar trail, we should also pull out the map and check our position. Of course, we also have to be alert enough to notice when we are at a junction!

In all fairness to the hikers, the trail needs a sign at the junction directing those hiking the Harpeth Woods Trail counter-clockwise to turn left. The unofficial trail that goes straight was hard to distinguish from the official trail. Hmmm, maybe, the reason the unofficial trail was so worn was because many other hikers also missed the turn and went straight instead!

Happy to be hiking again trails


A few weeks back another Journal entry ...

Misplaced - Summer Stories


Map to Warner Parks

Warner Woods Adventure Guide


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