Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail


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Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail Facts

States: Tennessee
Counties: Cheatham
Length: 6.5 miles
Trail end points: Mark's Creek Hill Rd (Ashland City) and Cheatham Dam Rd. (Cheatham Lake)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6017169

Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail Description

Whether you're after a picnic, a leisurely stroll or a brisk bike ride, the 6.5-mile Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail (a.k.a. Ashland City Rail-Trail) will enchant you as it meanders past lively streams and waterfalls, across misty wetlands and atop jagged bluffs along the Cumberland River. Only 20 minutes northwest of downtown Nashville, it connects users with the great outdoors along two adjoining segments.

A mile north of town, the Marks Creek trailhead offers parking, portable toilets and helpful trail signage. Here begins the Trestle Bridge trail section, an Ashland City park since 1997. This paved, wheelchair-accessible corridor runs 4 miles northwest to the Sycamore Harbor trailhead. The first mile leads past trickling waterfalls and spring dogwood blooms to the Turkey Junction Native Gardens & Comfort Station, a great spot to relax and refuel.

The onward route threads past secluded lakes and a designated waterfowl area to an impressive railroad bridge. One of six original trestles along the trail, it offers sweeping views of the wetlands that border the Cumberland. The trail soon ends at the Sycamore Harbor trailhead on Chapmansboro Road.

From its trailhead on Chapmansboro Road, the Eagle Pass trail section runs 2.5 miles through equally beautiful surroundings to the Cheatham Lock and Dam campground. Its compacted gravel surface is unsuitable for road bikes, so strap on your hiking boots or hop on your mountain bike. To extend your trek, pitch a tent at the campground and save the return trip for another day.

Parking and Trail Access

Directions from Nashville: Take I-40 West to Exit 204 and head north on SR 155/Briley Parkway. At Exit 24 take SR 12/Hydes Ferry Pike/Ashland City Highway about 13 miles west into town.

Or take I-24 West to Exit 24 and head south on SR 49 about 10 miles to Ashland City.
To reach the Marks Creek trailhead, take SR 12 about a mile north of town. Just past the bridge by the Deerfield Inn, turn left on Chapmansboro Road. The marked trailhead is on the right.


Ashland City Parks & Recreation Department
233 Tennessee Waltz Parkway, Suite 101
Ashland City, TN 37015

Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail Reviews

River ride

Beautiful trail along the Cumberland River. The trail is paved and gravel. It also links to the Cheatham Damn Park and Campground. This is an older trail and pavement is bumpy and gravel part can be rough. All and all, this is a great trail for cycling or hiking!

Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail

Two parking areas: (1) Eagles Pass parking area is between the paved section and the gravel sections of this R & T. The gravel part is around 2.5 miles to the west and ends in an RV park with a short ride that continues behind the basketball court as you enter the RV park on the first part of the gravel trail. About halfway there is a steep dip and incline, be careful. There are a lot of roots. It is not crushed rock, it is gravel. This kind of gravel is what is used on normal vehicle roads. A short section is controlled by the military and is fenced on both sides and not kept up. (2) The paved section is just at 4 miles long. It has a fair number of bulges in the pavement but not overbearing. The path is wide and scenic. We loved the paved section. There are around 7 bridges, all on the paved side, (two long ones), good place for pictures. We can't give it a 5 because of the gravel section and the roots. It is worth everyone's experience, but not one we will necessarily visit repeatedly.


I have ridden this trail numerous times from Ashland City and found the best time to ride is in the Spring or Fall when the leaves have fallen. This give you a much better view of the beautiful Cumberland River. The course is relatively easy.

Beautiful Trail!

This trail is longer than 6.5. From Mark’s Creek Trailhead to Lock A Campground is around 7.5. You can add another 2.5 if you ride to the Cheatham Lock and Dam. You can get about an 18 mile ride in and out. It’s a very beautiful trail!


Regular Rider

I ride this trail on a regular basis. It is quiet and mostly shaded. The asphalt paving can be rough in some areas due to tree roots growing under the paving but overall it is not a problem. Quite a bit of traffic at times, both walkers and cyclist. Lots of wildlife and some really nice views of the river.

Beautiful walking trail!

I went with my son and two grandchildren in the Fall. It was so beautiful and peaceful! The paved part was easy enough for almost anyone to walk. We did not go on the gravel portion. Several trees at the beginning were labeled with type if you look closely. The trail was clean. I hope to go again at different times of the year!

Nuts and ruts and butts!

Beautiful scenery. Easy trail grade overall. Saw some very large sycamore trees. Saw soft shell turtles, frogs and box turtles on the trail and great blue herons at the waters edge. Only drawbacks: 5 of the six bridge approaches were hernia busters, some at least 3-4 inches high; no mileage signs at all, no maps at the TH, no maps on the kiosks either (like to take a photo of map to use as guide), no real TH at Lock A either. Still a good trail despite the roots and washouts and the frequent and large black walnut husks and osage oranges. Hitting those items at speed could cause a wreck. I think I knocked the box turtle with my bike. I hope the fella pulls through. Hard to see him with all the leaf litter, branches, dirt and rocks on the trail.

Great trail

Love this trail. Several area with creek that is great for summer with pouch. They will walk a mile or so and get a cold dip. Also most of the trail is very shady. Cuts down on the summer heat about 10 degree.

We will be back!

According to Map My Ride the path is 7 miles from Mark's Creek TH to Lock A campground. 14 miles round trip. The path is blacktop all the way from Mark's Creek TH to Eagle Pass TH. After that, it's crushed rock. There is one dip on the rock portion that most will want to walk their bike through unless you are comfortable on a mountain bike and then it is pretty fun. 99% of the path is flat. My wife has a hybrid bike with street tires and it handled just fine on the gravel. The blacktop is pretty smooth except for a few places where tree roots have bucked up the pavement. The whole path is shaded with rock bluffs on one side and water to the other. The most scenic spot is a long bridge that crosses Sycamore Creek. I don't know what future plans are for this trail but we hope to see this trail continue to expand along the Cumberland River.

Shhhh……don’t tell anyone, but

what a great surprise & downhill both ways...shaded!! With a free Saturday, my wife & I headed in search of new biking adventures. We found a great one in Ashland City. Starting at the Marks Creek TH, you will ride on asphalt for approx. 4 miles and cross the Sycamore Creek bottoms via the original RR trestle. At the Eagle Pass TH, you will ride on gravel, good condition, for approx. 3 miles with the Cumberland River on your left & rocky outcroppings on your right until the trail ends at the Lock A Campground. We rode through the campground to just below the dam for a little over 12 miles. To our amazement, we have found a great new place to weekend car camp; clean & uncluttered campground (tent sites limited), sandy beaches for swimming & multiple fishing spots all along river. After the ride, we headed for a late lunch across the river at the Riverview restaurant (you have to try the Bobbers) and headed for the Clarksville Greenway.

Very nice

Drove from Huntsville AL to this trail. Very nice ride. I thought it was worth the ride up. Very shaded. Nice tree tunnels. Bridges along the way were beautiful. The main bridge is super neat and beautiful. We rode the full trail. All 13 miles. 3.7 paved and 3 unpaved one way.. Nice views of river. Only negative is lots of tree roots made for bumping ride even on paved area. Gravel area needs some up keep and attention. Nice trailhead with good parking.

Best Trail By Far

There are not enough words to describe this trail! Saw few snakes, the rock formations and uniquely form trees were more than a sight to see! The trail seems longer than 6 miles but well worth every step. Mother nature at its finest.

Awesome trail

My first trip from Nashville to the Ashland City Bicentennial Trail and I couldn't have been more impressed. I ran the trail early on a Friday morning and had the trail to myself (a real difference from the usually crowded greenways of Nashville). Did not see another person until around 8:30 AM.

The condition of the trail was excellent. The scenery was exceptional. The trail runs mostly along the base of the bluffs adjacent to the Cumberland River bottomlands. Lots of wildlife to observe where the trail borders the hardwood sloughs of the Cumberland River. Most of the trail is shaded, which should be a big help during the hot summer months.

Two huge thumbs up for this trail. A real hidden gem of the Nashville Region. Looking forward to running this trail more frequently in the future.

Beautiful! 9/30/2016

This is why we bought these bicycles! We have 650bx2.3 inch tires that are not mountain bike tires but have some tread with the only shocks on the seat post. We had no trouble navigating any part of the 16 miles from Marks Creek Trail Head to the Cheatham Dam and back. Roots on the paved part are the only bumps but not bad. Roots near the campground are numerous but passable. Gravel is packed well. One ravine that I rode through but wife walked through(It is a little steep). Tree lined and covered just like a tunnel with several short bridges and one longer bridge and then the large trestle! Oh, and wildlife everywhere. We will ride this again!

loved it!

Great biking trail. Lots of canopy coverage and tables to stop and rest at.

fantastic trail for beginner

Really loved this trail; mostly flat, not crowded, beautiful and canopy covered. That was a life saver on a 93 degree day. Im a beginner and can say that its really encouraging to have ridden the entire trail and back with no hassles.


We rode this trail today. Not crowded. Beautiful scenery. TN is such a gorgeous state. Easy, flat ride. Paved 2/3, packed gravel 1/3. Public bathroom about one mile in, and at the campground nearly seven miles in. Our phone calculated just shy of 14 miles round trip. Lots of fun! :)


Enjoyed this trail very much, it's late august, temp was upper 90's but never got that hot on the trail. Loved the river views, bridges make great pictures. Seen several other riders, walkers, joggers /with strollers of all ages. We will be back, think it would be great in the fall. :)

Awesome Ride

Rode the trail today 10-28-12. The trail is just awesome. although the trail is easy to ride it is filled with plenty of things to see. Will ride it again soon.

This is a very well maintained trail. Like someone posted before, it is about 4.5 miles of paved and 2-3 miles of hard packed gravel. Canopy over 99% of the ride, so riding on a hot day shouldn't be a problem. Depending upon what you are looking for, this is one easy trail. No elevation whatsoever. The bridges over the water are awesome. The only bad thing about the entire day was trying to find where Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail actually was. The GPS seemed to get a little confused, but a helpful police officer that didn't like snakes gave good directions.

A Gem in Hiding!!!

It was an unsuually cool morning for June 14th (Flag Day) but we knew it would warm up soon enough. We took to the trail early,about 7:30am CST, encountering noone for at least 2 miles into our trip. The asphalt section is a breeze for about 4.5 miles and then we went around a gate and to the Eagle Pass parking area and the gravel part of the trail. Right here is where the deep gully is located because there is no trestle there anymore. The ride here to the "end" is quite easy for about 2 miles. At the "end" is a picnic table and a huge boulder that you must go around to continue on to the Cheatham Dam area. It's just a short distance,less than a quarter mile, untill you come out by restrooms and a bathhouse near the Lock A Campground site. From here you can ride another 2.5 miles or so to the dam and more picnic areas. We actually rode 9.2 miles one way so round trip was an easy 18.4 miles and enjoyed it all the way!! There's a note of concern if what was told to me is true. We were told the railroad company wants to tear up the path and make the railway through here a viable entity again. HOWEVER, it will be another 8 to 10 years in doing so. Like I said, IF,and I mean IF this is true, then we all must enjoying this path as often as possible before the railway returns. On the rating scale this nice route gets a 5 out of 5 !

Beautiful Trail

A friend and I rode bikes along this trail 4-13-12, and we absolutely loved it. We have mountain bikes so when the asphalt trail turned to the small gravel part it was very doable. We rode the trail all the way to the dam which showed to be 9.25 miles on my Cyclemeter App, which I also love. The trail is flat all the way with many wooden bridges along the way, so beautiful. There is one spot like I read in earlier review to watch out for, it looks like there might have been a bridge there at one time which is not now and will be a surprise if your not watching for it, and it was too steep for me to go down but experienced riders may not have a problem with it, just keep watch for it. I can't wait to ride this trail again soon.

Wonderful Trail

Although it is not too long, this is a very scenic and beautiful trail. In the 2nd week of November, I rode from the Mark's Creek Trailhead (near Ashland City) all the way to the Cheatham Dam Campground. Although the fall color was, unfortunately, well past its peak, at least you had much better views of the river with all the leaves gone.

There is a steep embankment of high hills which run along the river. This trail is generally about halfway up with tall rock outcrops on one side of the trail and nice views of the river on the other. Being a rail trail, it is very flat and doesn't gain (or lose) much elevation throughout. There are small trestles/bridges over several side streams with one large trestle over Sycamore Creek. From here there are beautiful views of both the creek and the Cumberland River.

About a half mile north of Sycamore Creek, the paved portion of the trail ends at Chapmansboro Road. There is a parking area there at the Eagle Pass Trailhead. If you continue north, the trail is hard-packed gravel. It is not recommended for road bikes but fat tires can make it without much problem.
The 2 ½ mile section of trail for Eagle Pass to the Cheatham Dam Campground is similar to the paved section. Just north of Eagle Pass, there is an interesting structure that I wasn’t sure what it was. It looks like a small stone/mortar arch shaped room with a wooden door. It looked very old and I guessed that it was some type of storage shed for the railroad.

One word of caution: About a half mile from the north end of this section of trail, there is a bridge missing. It looks like it has been gone for a long time. The trail veers toward the river and goes down to the creek bed (which was dry when I saw it) then goes back up to the old railroad bed and the rest of the trail. It is not really hard to get by this section but there is no warning and the trail down to the creek bed is fairly steep and rocky. I made it ok but next time I will walk my bike through this section. It really isn’t bad but it can surprise you if you aren’t looking for it.

At the north end of the trail is the Cheatham Lake Lock A Campground. It was closed when I came through so I had to ride another couple of hundred yards to get to a point where the roads were open. The campground is part of an Army Corps of Engineers Recreational area here. If you keep going north from the campground, past the swimming area (in the river), you will reach Cheatham Dam. It is about a mile and a half from the campground.

All in all, the Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail is a very pretty rail-trail. I look forward to riding it again in the spring when the flowers are in bloom. I just wish it were a little longer.

Nice ride!

What a lovely trail! I rode in early fall of this year and so the density of foliage was low enough I was able to catch glimpses of the water. I like riding trails where the view is constantly changing ("Ooh! I wonder what's around this corner?") and I didn't get much of that on the CRBT so I'm giving it 4 out of 5 stars.
For those wishing to extend their ride by 2 or so miles I highly recommend riding past the campground on the road to the lock and dam. The view of the river is totally unobstructed. I saw several great blue herons fishing as well as in flight, and I've heard that bald eagles have been known to nest on the bluff. Along the road are many picnic tables with grills, as well as a day use area with a small fishing dock, swimming area/beach, and playground. I would suggest packing a picnic and starting your ride here. When you finish the roundtrip you can tuck into a sammy or grill some burgers as you sit on the riverbank. There is also a nice restroom situation near the boatramp.

Ashland City Rail Trail- 6/25/09

We rode the extended trail from the Mark's Creek trailhead to Cheatham Dam Lock A campground. The first 4.3 miles is asphalt paved and the remaining 3 miles is finely packed gravel, almost as smooth as asphalt.
A nice rest room area is about 1/2 mile from Mark's Creek Trailhead. The campground has restrooms & showers and a boat ramp. In summer, much of the river view is obscured by foliage. Wonderful ride or jog!

8 Mile Loop

I rode this trail in August 2007. I rode the 4 mile paved section. I then turned left toward the Cumberland river and rode back on a parallel county road. You can see the RR bridge from the county road.

Jay Nicks

Fall Treat

Beautiful tree canopy full of Fall colors. Topo is river bottom to high bluffs. Waterfalls and old bridges add to the enjoyment.
I highly recommend this walk.

Great place

"I live nearby so I walk the trail quite a bit. The first four miles have completely been paved which does make it easier for bike riders and strollers. There is another 2 or so miles that goes from the parking lot on the far end of the trail from Ashland city to Lock A Campground that isn't paved. Not many people walk this part, which is a shame since it runs right beside the river and offers wonderful birdwatching. Look for the eagles nest across from the Kemps sign!"

"Floridian visiting family in Pleasant View. Very nice, enjoyable, scenic shady trail. Good pavement and fun to ride, especially across the bridges. Might be nice to trim back some low branches, etc. to provide views of the river along the trail. Only complaint: too short!"

"Good, but . . ."

The Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail was a great ride even though trail didn't appear to be regularly maintained (the port-a-john at the south end needed to be emptied). The rest area with a local garden being built is very nice.


"First rate trail that offers something for everyone. Natural setting and land surrounding it is remarkable. I admire the folks who believe in this project and who dedicate their time to maintain it so well. They've managed to create one of my favorite walking trails in Middle Tennessee. This trail is kept very clean, too. Nice going!"

A wonderful walk!

A wonderful walk! What a great use of our natural resources.

Good ride

"I took my daughters and their friend (ages 12) on the 8 mi. R/T and we all thought it was beautiful. Saw many wildflowers and critters along the bluffs. The trail is shaded, great for a hot summer day."

Great bike ride!

"Great bike ride! Smooth to moderate trail surface for first 3 miles, then long bridge and onto asphalt for the 4th mile. The newer section is considerably rougher and likely suitable only for mountain bikes.

Restroom facilities interspersed along trail, several parking options along trail route.

I have ridden a number of bike trails in other states, but this is far and away the most scenic. Overall a fantastic and beautiful ride!"

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