One of the most beloved natural features in the city of Nashville is the Cumberland River, which winds its way through the middle of the city. This extensive waterway presents many exciting outdoor activities in Nashville. From kayaking to fishing to paddleboat cruises, there's a little something for everyone to enjoy on the river in Nashville. Keep reading to learn about five fun things you can do on Nashville's Cumberland River.
Paddle a Kayak on the Cumberland
Kayaking the Cumberland River is a great way to view the sleek Nashville high-rise condos that make up the iconic skyline. River Queen Voyages rents kayaks and offers several guided tours along the Cumberland. Note that these are not float trips; paddling is necessary, so expect light exercise.
"The Full Nash" is a four-hour kayak trip from near Opryland in Nashville, all the way to Downtown Riverfront Park. It's an 8-mile paddling tour that allows participants to see much of Nashville from the water. That same route is split into two shorter routes for those who don't want a whole four-hour excursion. There's an additional $50 fee to kayak with a professional tour guide.
Cumberland Kayak is another company that offers guided kayaking tours. They offer a one-hour Skyline Paddle from Shelby Park to Cumberland Park. Another option is to paddle the Stones River, which puts in at the Percy Priest Dam in east Nashville. This is a 90-minute kayaking tour of the Stones River Greenway, passing under several bridges. Kayakers often see turtles and blue herons on this trip.
For those who don't want to take a guided tour, both companies listed offer hourly kayak rentals.
Cruise the General Jackson Showboat on the Cumberland
The original General Jackson paddle boat was built in 1817. This newer, much more modern recreation of General Jackson launched in 1985, and it has been a fixture on the Cumberland River in Nashville ever since. The boat docks at Pennington Bend, close to the Opry Mills Mall. The riverboat cruise season for General Jackson runs from March through December of each year.
General Jackson heads out onto the Cumberland River for two cruises per day during the season. The early afternoon cruise usually consists of the cruise itself and a musical show. Evening cruises offer dinner and a show, with tickets generally in the $60 range for adults and $30 for children. The shows on the cruise rotate with the seasons and often feature talented up-and-coming acts in the Nashville music scene. Guests can occasionally catch performances by some of the biggest stars in country music on General Jackson, although those shows tend to sell out fast.
General Jackson can also be booked for private events such as wedding rehearsal dinners, class reunions, corporate getaways, and more. They even offer custom cruise events for groups ranging between 100 and 1,000 people.
Go Fishing on the Cumberland
Fishing is allowed in the Cumberland River and most waterways in Nashville's city and state parks. Anyone with a Tennessee fishing license is allowed to drop a line in the water and try their luck. The most common fish species in the Cumberland include brown trout, rainbow trout, walleye, and striped bass. But that's just the beginning of the species list. Three hundred fifteen different fish species have been identified in the waters in and around Nashville.
Anglers are also permitted to take their private boats on the Cumberland River. Several public boat ramps offer access to the river. One is at Shelby Park at Shelby Avenue and 20th Street, and another is inside Peeler Park along Neeley's Bend Road. Another ramp is located in the suburb of Donelson (east Nashville) on Pennington Bend, providing convenience on par with lakefront homes near Nashville.
There are also many public access points for anglers who want to take kayaks or canoe out on the Cumberland. The river offers 51 miles of access for any adventurous fishermen to get out on the water. Residents can also fish at the lakes in Centennial Park and Shelby Park and in the pond at Cedar Hill Park.
Snap a Photo on the Cumberland Pedestrian Bridge
The Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge is a relatively new construction in Nashville. The bridge connects Two Rivers Park on the east side of the river with the Shelby Bottoms Nature Center & Greenway on the west. The bridge itself is 745 feet long and offers excellent views of the Cumberland River below. It's a spectacular place to take nature photos.
On the east side of the bridge, Two Rivers Park encompasses 384 acres and has a ton of activities for visitors. There's a golf course, a disc golf course, a dog park, a skate park, a wave pool, and plenty of green space and shade trees. Access to the Pedestrian Bridge from this side of the river can be found by following the Shelby Bottoms Greenway Trail signs.
On the west side of the river, the Shelby Bottoms Greenway offers 1,150 acres of green space for hiking, bird watching, and wildlife viewing. It also has baseball parks, a nature center, and wetlands. These large parks and outdoor spaces can now be easily accessed, thanks to the construction of the Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge.
Get SUP Fit on the Cumberland
The waters of the Cumberland River are not the least bit choppy as they flow through Nashville, thanks to plentiful flood control measures. This makes the river an excellent choice for anyone who wants to learn stand-up paddleboarding (SUP). The Nashville Paddle Co. offers fitness classes for anyone who wants to try this unique sport.
After a 90-minute Intro to SUP class ($45), paddle boarders will know the basics of the sport, how to balance and paddle on the board, and... will probably be wet the first time! After that, SUP Yoga classes and SUP Fitness classes ($30 an hour). The classes include a paddleboard, a paddle, and a personal flotation device for every participant. The SUP workout classes are a great way to work on core strength and balance while enjoying the fresh air and the views along the Cumberland River.
Nashville Paddle Co. is located at 2901 Bell Road. It also sponsors social events for paddleboarders throughout the year. Rentals of paddleboards and kayaks start at around $25 an hour.
Enjoy Cumberland River Adventures in Nashville
Nashville is considered one of the best "river cities" in the entire country, thanks to its easy access to the Cumberland River. The city offers many miles of hiking and biking trails next to the river and many public access points for fishing and boating. Residents can cruise, kayak, paddleboard, or even take their sailboat out on the Cumberland for most of the year (the river gets rather chilly from December through March, however). Outdoor enthusiasts will never get tired of the many things to do in Nashville.
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