Tennessee Backroads

Take the Long Way Home

  1. Natchez Trace Parkway

    This 444 mile stretch that spans from Nashville TN to Natchez, Mississippi has been referenced as a “ribbon of time”. It can transport you back 9,000 years to a time of Paleo-Indian hunters, drop you into a Civil War battle, urge you to contemplate “the Nile of the Western Hemisphere,” encourage you to empathize with foot-weary 19th-century travelers yearning for home, and teach you about contemporary farming practices.

    The Natchez Trace Parkway is probably the most noteworthy and nationally recognized ‘backroad’ listed in our guide. Provided below are details on 3 of our favorite mile markers along the Trace near to Franklin.  

Milepost 438.0 Birdsong Hollow

The view from the Natchez Trace Parkway bridge provides breathtaking views of Franklin’s rolling hills and noteworthy countryside. Equally spectacular is the view from the valley floor. This is the nation's first arch bridge constructed with concrete segments; it spans 1,648 feet. In all, 196 grinder segments and 122 arch segments were used to produce it, at a cost of $11.3 million and it has received numerous honors for its design. 

Milepost 437.2 Timberland Park

This day-use park is operated by Williamson County Parks & Recreation and open to the public. The parks and rec department provides so many amazing activities to get children and grown ups alike exploring the park. They offer day camps, seasonal activities, and a butterfly garden just to name a few. This park boasts a local favorite hiking trail and an ADA-accessible pathway that makes this one of the best spots on the Parkway for people with disabilities. 

Milepost 404.7 Jackson Falls

Most people relocating to Franklin TN, say they had no idea the area offers beautiful waterfalls. Jackson Falls is the closest waterfall to Franklin and definitely a local secret summer spot. There's an easy off/on ramp from the Trace and the parking lot offers both a bathroom and a parking lot. It takes 5-10 minutes to get from the parking lot to the base of the waterfall. The short descent has a guard rail the entire length, making the short hike possible for parents and young children. Once you get to the base of the waterfall, you’ll be greeted by a circular limestone gorge. When the falls are flowing you’ll see it being used as a natural slide. It’s a must try! 

2.)  Old Natchez Trace Road
Not to be confused with The Natchez Trace Parkway, Old Natchez Trace Road is the only way real locals travel from West Franklin to Nashville. This two lane narrow road travels alongside The Harpeth River for 4 miles. The mature trees that run along both sides of the road arch together in different sections to create a tunnel of trees. It is truly remarkable and one of the best back roads in Tennessee.

3.) Franklin to Columbia

From downtown Franklin, 20 miles south down 11th Ave and one left turn onto Carters Creek Pike is a route that takes you back to simpler times. This drive is a juxtaposition of slow and exciting. Though you’ll stay on one road the majority of the trip, that one road is filled with curves, sharp turns and the type of scenery your soul craves. It takes you right from the heart of Franklin with all of its’ hustle and bustle and transports you to the spread out scenery of Columbia TN.    

4.) Masters and Makers Trail

70 miles of countryside and back roads partnered with 5 of Williamson County's best watering holes come together to create the Masters and Makers Trail.

The first stop on the trail is in Thompson’s Station at H Clark Distillery. H Clark Distillery is all about the experience, creating hand-crafted spirits one small batch at a time. They use only the finest grains and ingredients and in their words, “transform them into the ultimate spirits experience”.

Next stop, takes your palette from craft spirits to wine and your location from Thompson Station to Arrington. Arrington Vineyards is co-owned by singer-songwriter Kix Brooks. The vineyard has award winning wines and a scenic view of Williamson County's rolling hills that can’t be rivaled.

Mill Creek Brewing Company is next on the trail. This brewery offers a large variety of locally-brewed beer. With a slogan of “less fuss, more beer” this is the perfect stop for the beer lover in your group. Mill Creek Brewing is located in Nolensville and has a full food menu.

Trekking on to Leiper’s Fork Distillery you’ve reached your second to last stop. The drive through Leiper’s Fork is an experience in and of itself, coined by locals as ‘a step back in time’. The distillery opened its doors in 2016 with an aim to resurrect the lost history and heritage of small batch whiskey production in Williamson County. Make sure to request a tour of the facility. This is one place you will want to get the full experience and history.

The tour ends in our beloved downtown Franklin at Curio Brewing Company. It’s a perfect ending point as it offers both beer and coffee. And its aesthetic provides a modern experience, offering a sharp contrast from the Leiper's Fork experience. It also sits right near the downtown Franklin Visitors Center. So if you download the digital passport and check in at 4 out of the 5 stops, the Visitors Center will give you a limited edition T-shirt.  

*This route requires a designated driver or ample travel time. Please act responsibly.