This Sunday was one of those perfect late summer days in Nashville. Early morning was cool enough to wear a long layer and by mid day the sun was blazing and warm.
I originally was planning on adventuring with M to the Narrows of the Harpeth for a little hiking, splashing and maybe swimming after reading Paige Clancy’s review on The Wandering Rumpus. Ultimately, though, when I woke up this morning I was not feeling like adventuring too far and possibly some place that would end up super crowded on a holiday weekend (hello, Covid-19 anxiety, rearing it’s ugly head).
We pivoted and went to Richland Creek Greenway (which I also read about on The Wandering Rumpus‘ blog, in a review from Amanda Reynolds) instead and I am SO glad we did. I have lived in Nashville since August 2000 (minus a 3 year stint in PA/NC and 6 months on the road in a motorhome) and I have never been to Richland Creek Greenway. I even lived in Sylvan Park for a year and never went!
M + I picked up our favorite socially-distanced breakfast to-go from East Park Donuts + Coffee (order ahead on the app and just drop in to pick up your order from the table immediately inside the entrance once you receive your confirmation that it’s ready) and drove to the parking lot at 51st and Wyoming. There aren’t very many spots there and we got one of the last ones available at 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday, so make note of this if you plan to visit. Street parking nearby shouldn’t be an issue.
We grabbed our camp chairs and signature rainbow blanket (I’ll have to share pictures of all the East Nashville Farmers Markets with that blanket back when it used to be at Shelby Park) and had a little breakfast picnic in the shade of a tree in the field by the parking lot.
After we finished our breakfast we swapped out our picnic gear for our water bottles and snack box and headed west (thanks for the tip, Amanda!) to find the creek. (If you might be compass directionally-challenged like I am, when you’re standing on the greenway with the parking lot on your right, walk that direction – towards the golf course/away from the greenway workout equipment.)
We were a little over-eager and when M + I saw the first path opening in the brush on our righthand side, we went right in. At that point the drop off to the creek was a little steep and the creek was covered in fallen tree limbs, making it not that pleasant a spot to explore.
M + I went back out to the greenway and chose to take an opening in the brush a few more yards down the path, right before the first set of benches facing the course. This was a much better access point for the creek, so when you go definitely pass a couple of the brush openings before choosing one to make your short journey down to the water.
Usually when we plan to creek stomp + splash M wears a bathing suit and we pack an extra change of clothes along with a towel and some water tools (buckets, measuring cups, etc.). For some reason, I think due to the last minute change in plans, I didn’t have my act together so we didn’t have anything with us but a package of wipes, a small snack box, our water bottles and water shoes on our feet.
I’ve realized that one of the reasons I love to explore and splash in creeks with M is that it very literally forces us to slow down.
We ease our way into the cold, refreshing water. Toes gripping the slippery rocks. Bodies parallel, fingers intertwined, we inch our way up the creek, picking up special treasures along the way.
We’re quiet, incredibly focused on our next steps, listening to each other breathe.
These are the moments I will forever cherish. These are the moments where I recognize how fleeting childhood – and thus motherhood – is.
No matter because we managed to collect plenty of treasures as we walked in the shallows up the creek, stuffing our pockets, and made potions and played matching games on the large flat rock we ended up at. Side note: this large flat rock would be perfect as a home base on our next visit, to set up with our gear, towels and picnic goodies.
We spent about 2.5 hours at Richland Creek Greenway in total, about 2 in/around the creek itself, and we’re already planning a return visit. We encountered 4 family groups while in the creek but they were all either single adults or pairs that had a dog or two eager to splash and wade in the cool water. The closest human was still about 20′ away. The greenway path itself was pretty busy, but the path is wide and everyone was pretty consistent with moving over to stay on opposite sides of the path. A handful of people were wearing masks but most weren’t.
While you play and explore in a waterway, please do not build rock dams or structures (like the one pictured above). Something as small and mild-seeming as this can actually quite significantly change a habitat for its animal and insect residents. Read this article from Friends of the Smokies to learn more! (I’ve been guilty of building cairns in the past, thinking they wouldn’t cause much damage, but I’ve since learned different. Know better, do better!)