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369 Warner Park
Multi-Use Trails

Warner Park's Horse Only trails

There is possibly good news for walkers, hikers, runners, and possibly even bicyclist in Nashville. Warner Parks is at least considering allowing other users on the Horse Only trails in the Park. April's Fools!, right? No, this is for real. The Tennessean reports that the Park is at least entertaining the idea of converting the Horse Only trails into multi-use trails. I can only smile.

Since the 1930's the horse trails have been designated for exclusive use. When I moved to Nashville in the mid Eighties, the Warner Parks were one of the first places I visited. They were great Parks and were a factor in my decision to move to the city. I was however puzzled why the Park had Horse Only trails.

The Park in the Eighties was different than it is today. The trails were hardly used. They were overgrown and in places almost hard to follow. Most people who were walking or running, chose to use the Roadway or the horse trails, even though the horse trails were forbidden. The riders did not seem to mind the trespassing users; but then along came the mountain bikes. The horse trails are basically gravel roads and were great for riding mountain bikes. As more riders appeared, the mountain bikers were probably considered to be a safety issue to the horse riders. New signage went up on the trails and bikes were forbidden to leave the Roadways. Hikers also began to be reprimanded for using the Horse Only trails.

Well the times are a changing, and more and more and even more hikers, walkers, and runners are using the Park. Their voices have been heard and there is talk of multi-use trails.

I think that horses and hikers can coexist without many problems. There will be issues such as the hikers complaining about the trail condition (the manure and trail damage) and the riders complaining about the hikers not knowing how to hike with horses. These multi-use issues are fixable but will take time to resolve.

Bicycles would be a bigger concern to horse riders; but the alternate use schedule should work for both sets of riders. The bicyclists would have to always obey the hours of use, without exception. I might be biased; but I believe that the number of mountain bike riders that will use the trail might be amazingly high.

It will be a great day for the Nashville Parks and their users when the Horse Only trails finally loses their restrictions. More trail access means more room for people to exercise and move outside.

The Mayor's Walk 100 Miles and the President's Outdoor Initiative campaigns see the need to get people outside for exercise. If opening the Horse Only trails to other users gets more people exercising, then it is a positive direction for our City. The growing pains of change will end with time.

Happy horse only trails.


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