M + I have been to Peeler Park 4 times now – the first visit was in late March, at the end of our very first week quarantining.
On our first three visits we would park at the trailhead off of Neely’s Bend Road and begin walking on the (only) path but we never ever made it past 0.25 miles out before turning back around and heading to the car. It was always an enjoyable experience, but up until today I had no idea that there was so very much more to Peeler Park.
Because we were either walking on foot – and when doing so, M creeps along as slowly as a snail because there’s way too much to touch + see + talk about – or dragging M’s scooter behind us – because at 3.5 years old we still have shown zero desire to learn how to ride the scooter we’ve had for almost a year – I thought Peeler offered a nicely paved path sandwiched on one side by a large field and the other by a thicket of trees growing on the top of a ridge overlooking the Cumberland River.
This thicket, by the way, often opens up into narrow walking paths cut through the brush. M + I took one back in March on our first visit and it was not the best choice to make with a 3 year old and a muddy floor from the previous day’s rain. The paths are short and end at overlooks where you can see the Cumberland River but they are covered in tree roots, are precariously steep and kind of just end right at the edge. Go at your own peril, but please don’t think about bringing little kids with you.
I was very, VERY wrong. Today I brought our stroller along so that M and I could venture further into the park and I am so glad I did.
Peeler Park is a 636-acre farmland park tucked into a curve of the Cumberland River called Neely’s Bend. There is a 3.7-mile greenway path, a 1-mile loop, a boat lauch and even an airfield for remote control airplanes. The multi-use trail is perfect for runners, walkers, stroller-ers and bikers. It intersects in several places throughout the park with trails for hiking (3.5 miles) and trails for horse riding (8.3 miles), too. The paved pathways are in great shape and I’m surprised (but pleased) that it’s not been more crowded with visitors on each of our visits. I hope it remains a great little secret for those of us living east and north of town.
While there is a field for RC airplanes, Peeler Park is also in a flight path so the heavy quiet of the park that is usually just interrupted only by birdsong and insect chirps is also occasionally interspersed with the roar of jet engines. Fun for littles (and growns alike!) who are into planes because depending on the weather they often fly low enough to see the markings and get a good view of the planes bellies.
We followed the “lollipop” route which circles around what is usually a swamp or a large swath of wetlands. The water levels are too low right now so the area around the walking bridge we crossed is completely dry. This spot is apparently also a great place for bird watching during the spring and summer.
We saw so many birds, butterflies and bees but it was hard to grab pictures of most of them as they were all so busy flying around this morning. Preparing for fall? Enjoying the warm sunshine? Who knows, but their presence made our adventure all the more special.
On a whim I decided to take the stroller to the boat ramp so we could get an up-close view of the river. Like most boat drop-ins, I’m sure, it wasn’t incredibly scenic and was littered with pieces of refuse (including the ashy white bones of a part of a skeleton – I didn’t stay long enough to figure out what, but i’m mostly certain it was from an animal?) but it gave M an opportunity to learn how to chuck rocks into the water and revel in their plops and splashes.
PS: We stopped by Slow Hand Coffee + Bakeshop on the way because I needed a coffee and the parking lot was empty. We used to have an every-Saturday-morning tradition of eating at Slow Hand and I’ve missed it since the pandemic. I can confirm, however, that Audra + crew’s pastries are as delicious as ever so definitely consider stopping in if you’re in the area or looking for amazing pastries, cookies and muffins. Masks are required and the only seating is limited and spaced widely apart.
PPS: Don’t be taken aback by the colony of feral cats that might be present in the parking lot area when you arrive. A local woman visits and feeds them regularly so they’re apparently “a thing” at Peeler. They keep their distance so they shouldn’t be a nuisance.