Making the most of summer

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There’s plenty to gripe about—just ask the LGBT community in Nashville. Of course we have serious issues, like political opposition to our rights and a lack of job and housing protections. Then there are the lesser issues people love to focus on, like traffic—which, yes, is a mess, and yes, is annoying. And the heat of summer. Being stuck in traffic in the heat… Pollen…

Okay, but it’s summer and Middle Tennessee is beautiful, and full of ways to enjoy the summer sun, heat, pollen and traffic be darned! Even in the city, there are tons of ways to get outside and enjoy yourselves in the company of your fellow LGBT folks. Just look at a few of the events featured this month, from the Team Friendly Carwash—a fun way to get outside and get wet, while supporting a great cause—to HotMess Sports’ summer kickball league, which recently held its big tournament.

HotMess will begin another summer season on Sunday, July 9, as a third season of volleyball kicks off at oneC1TY, and Nashville’s other sports leagues, like the Grizzlies, continue to have group activities and most LGBT organizations embrace summer cookouts and pool parties as socials.

Meetup groups provide other avenues for LGBT people to get outside, get active, and get together, especially in the summer. There are hiking groups, running groups, and explorer groups oriented to all kinds of people at all skill levels.

One such group, the Nashville Gay Men Explorer Group, organizes events ranging from “watching a Grizzles rugby game, a walk on a greenway, trying out different restaurants, Old Hickory Damn and Locke, the Nashville Zoo, exploring Centennial Park, or even Jack Daniels Distillery or Gatlinburg.”

One doesn’t have to go far from the city proper, even, to find the natural beauty of Tennessee, and that’s where the fun really begins. Nashville has some of the best hiking you’ll find in and around any city, with systems of trails for all levels of experience.

Radnor Lake, a designated conservation area, has a popular set of unpaved trails. Granier Ridge Trail is a 1.7 mile hike up and down the ridge, while the South Lake and South Cove Trails have some good, narrow, rocky climbs. For those who feel up to it, the trails join to make one large loop around the lake. For those who desire a more leisurely day, there is also a paved trail where pets and bikes are permitted!

Percy Warner Park is another Nashville treasure. The park’s 868-acres include some of the Nashville area’s best trails. The Mossy Ridge Trail is a 4.5 mile loop that winds over creeks and near waterfalls: you’ll feel deep in nature here, not far from the city.

Edwin Warner Park, Natchez Trace, Bells Bend Park, Harpeth River State Park … the list is nearly endless. Rivers and lakes provide ample opportunity for kayaking, canoeing and even paddle boat rentals at Percy Priest. And for those willing to venture further out, world-class rapids are just a few hours away.

Speaking of venturing—have you been to Foster Falls, Old Fort State Park, or Montgomery Bell State Park, to name just a few nearby spots that are gorgeous settings for a day out, or a week-long excursion into nature? If not, it may just be time to put away the computers and tablets, grab some hiking boots and a tent, and rediscover the beauty of our region this beautiful summer!