I don't know about you, but I don't take advantage of our Greenway system nearly enough.
The paths winding around Stones River include 13 trailheads, but my family and I tend to frequent a few until something causes us to visit a new one and we think, “Why don't we explore more of these?” Cooler weather and colorful foliage makes this a great time to rediscover the Greenway, or discover it for the first time, and seasonal events and fun programs offer plenty of resources to promote health, community, and creativity in all ages. So get out, get exploring, and take advantage of all the Greenway offers this fall.
1. Go Online Before You Go
Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation hosts an informative website with maps to trailheads and the amenities of each one. For instance, with preschoolers I tend to gravitate towards the trailheads with playgrounds, but I know as they age we'll be picking out kayak put-ins and our favorite bike trails. Print off a scavenger hunt for a little more directed focus when you visit any one of the trailheads; it's simple enough for preschoolers and easily leveled up for older kids. murfreesborotn.gov/185/Greenways-Wetlands
2. Get Packing
The Barfield Wilderness Station now offers free educational backpacks for morning and afternoon checkout. Perfect for recreation or a great resource for homeschoolers, these backpacks are a great way to introduce your children to nature. Each backpack has a theme of Birds, Trees, Insects, or Wildflowers and includes specific learning material and programs surrounding the theme. So pick your favorite subject and get outside to explore and learn about Tennessee's beautiful wilderness. Backpacks may be checked out at the Wilderness Station at Barfield Crescent Park. 615-217-3017
3. Be Artsy
If you're looking for a way to introduce your kids to a wide variety of arts, make sure that this year's Greenway Art Festival "Cross Pollination: Art and Nature in Harmony" presented by Cultural Arts Murfreesboro is on the calendar. Arts organizations throughout Rutherford County are featured, along with original art (oil paint, watercolor, pottery, textile, metal, glass and sculpture) installation art, music, food vendors and youth and adult activities for all to enjoy (my kids love the drums!). Saturday, September 21, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., Old Fort Park. 615-962-7725, firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Move as a Group
Find yourself in the welcoming company of other mamas at this low-key, no pressure weekly event. Walk the Greenway for an hour (kids in strollers), and then stay and play at Kids' Castle. Anyone can join at any time; no membership or registration is necessary. Thursdays September-October, 9 a.m.- 10 a.m. 615-217-3017, email@example.com
5. Join the Club
Few things are better than getting rewarded for exploring! Join the Greenway 100 Club and walk, run, or bike 100 miles on the Greenway and receive a special 100 t-shirt, car decal, and certificate. After you register, you'll be given a chart to mark your progress as you explore the Greenway. It's open to all ages, so get the family involved for some serious mileage. Open the month of October. Registration is $10. 615-217-3017, murfreesborotn.gov/parks; firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Walk, Run, Read, Repeat.
The “Breezeway” section of the Greenway, located around the Gateway Island, now features Little Free Libraries, thanks to the idea of local Eagle Scout John Summar. Now a partnership of Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Better Boro Project, Cultural Arts, Read to Succeed, Andrea Loughry and the Rutherford Arts Alliance (RAA), Murfreesboro Poet Laureate Kory Wells, and writing students from Central Magnet School, the beautifully painted boxes hold books to be borrowed and returned on the honor system. Take a book to share and look for a new one while you and the kids walk, run, or ride around this popular spot. murfreesborotn.gov/184/Gateway-Island
7. Be a Friend.
For just $20 year a family can join “Friends of the Greenway” (FOG) and join others in maintaining and improving this resource in the city. By joining, members can be involved in cleanup days, help create special events, and reach other families to learn about the local environment. murfreesborotn.gov/186/Friends-of-the-Greenway