Bells Bend Park: A Review



In Short

Location: Near the end of Old Hickory Boulevard, in Bells Bend

This is just one of the creeks that runs through the park.
  • This is just one of the creeks that runs through the park.

Crowds: None
Approximate Age of Patrons: Unknown
Topics of Conversation: Nothing
Stray Dogs Seen: None
Types of Vehicles in Parking Lots: A truck and small sedans
Perceived Safety: High
Number of Gunshots Heard: None (but you will occasionally hear hunters)
Dog Friendliness: High
Number of pitbulls sighted: One
Accessibility: Medium Low
Incorporation of Local History: Middling
Recommended Patrons: No one. Stay away!

Even though every time I go out there, I end up with ticks (today's count is 2 so far, my high is 12), this is my favorite Nashville Park. It is also one of two parks (the other being Beaman) where people have emailed me and begged me not to review it because they don't want folks to learn about this park and start crowding it up.

But I don't have a camera this weekend and the only park I have lots of pictures of that I haven't already reviewed is Bells Bend. I'm sorry, folks. I recommend that people don't go there, so, hopefully, if they don't read any further than that, they will stay away.

On the other hand, before I started reviewing parks, I was at this park once a weekend and I still go frequently and no matter how many vehicles are in the parking lot, the park never feels crowded. Today I was at the first entrance and there were four or five other vehicles in the parking lot and we saw no one the whole time we were there. The park is just that big.

There's handicapped parking, but I'm not convinced the park is that accessible. I mean, you would have no problem getting in and out of the awesome nature center, and I guess you could go a little way on the trail. But in general, this is a park for people who have little problem walking and don't need to stop and rest (or who don't have problems getting up off the ground if they do need to sit).

The park is on old farmland, so there is a lot of cool man-made stuff to look at—barns, stacked stone walls, half-forgotten cemeteries, foundations of long gone houses, and lines of trees that mark old fields and pastures. But the real treat is the natural stuff. Last fall, for instance, there was this translucent orange spherical seedpod on one of the plants that glowed in the morning light like some industrious fairy was signaling the way to a celebration. I couldn't believe it was a real thing, and so ordinary.

If you look carefully, theres all this kind of nifty stuff.
  • If you look carefully, there's all this kind of nifty stuff.
Today, we saw geese overhead and footprints left by deer in the mud. There's just never a time when it's not an amazing place to visit. And because it's obvious that it's old farmland, it has the charm of a place left to go some new kind of wild. This isn't what people 300 years ago saw when they camped there, but it's not a place in service of people anymore, either. It's not reverting, exactly, but it's becoming something. It's a great place to explore.

But I'm going to tell you the real reason I love this park.

I love this park because I have a 10-year-old dog of a breed that lives 12-14 years. She's got a bum knee and a gray muzzle. And she happily accompanies me to any park we might go to.

A local dog enjoys her favorite park.
  • A local dog enjoys her favorite park.

But it's only at Bells Bend Park that she still runs out ahead of me as far as the leash will let her and sniffs around until I am as far from her as the leash stretches — at which point she bounds by me again, like she is still young and we might walk forever. This is the park where she will still throw herself down in the middle of the trail and wiggle on her back like she has never been happier. This is the park she sniffs and pees on everything interesting to her, without a care in the world. This is the place she looks back over her shoulder at me with an enormous grin, her tongue hanging out, like, "Is there any place better we could be?"

And I don't think there is.

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