You can also download the map here.
I love spending time outside. During the warmer months if I am outside, I prefer to be in water to help cool down a little. Luckily, the Harpeth River flows right through Franklin, TN and provides a great place to enjoy canoeing, kayaking, fishing, wading or swimming. When we first moved here we didn't even know we could access the river. We thought it was just something that was there and could be looked at from a distance but never truly enjoyed. One day, we discovered there were several different canoe access points along the river and we have been enjoying the river ever since! It kind of reminds us of being back in college in San Marcos where the river runs right through where we lived!
Over time we have mentioned these spots to others and realized a lot of people don't realize these access points are here (just like we didn't for years). I want everyone that lives or visits here to be able to partake in the beauty of the Harpeth River and use it as an excuse to get outside and be in nature more. There are currently 6 canoe access points with more proposed to come. In order of river flow direction, the sites are: Ladd Park, Eastern Flank, Pinkerton Park, Harlinsdale Farm, Williamson/Franklin Rec Center, and Rizer Point. I will describe each of the access points below and include pictures so you know what to expect. There are no bathrooms or water fountains located right next to any of these access points. The closest will be if you are by a park. At this point, at all of the access points when the river is low you have to travel down quite a few stairs to get into the river and might be challenging for some. I am also including the City of Franklin link here to provide more information.
If you plan on navigating the river, there are mile markers on the river to help you determine where you are entering and where you need to exit. Please use the river responsibly, know your abilities and float/swim at your own risk. Sometimes the water is really high (and brown after it rains like you can see in some of the pictures) and sometimes it is really low, so make sure to take that into consideration when you go. There also are snakes, animals and bugs like any other river - so again, just be aware. You will need your own canoe or kayak or rent them from somewhere around Nashville to actually float this area of the river. There is only one business that I know of that will actually take you on the river (in a drift boat) and that is Franklin Fly Fishing Co. If you don't want to mess with any equipment, just come on down and wade around. Time to start exploring!
If you want to float from the first access point to the last, you would start at Ladd Park (mile marker 95.7) and take out at Rizer Point (mile marker 83.7). You drive through the Ladd Park subdivision to get here and park in the grass under the bridge. This is one of our favorite spots for fishing. When the water is lower you can wade pretty far along the river bank.
This access point (mile marker 89.3) is located off of 431 across from Eastern Flank Battlefield and the Carriage Park neighborhood. There is a paved area for parking. When the water is a little lower, you can also wade pretty far downstream.
Pinkerton Park (mile marker 88.1) has access to the river as soon as you enter the park on the left hand side. You will see a driveway veering left down to a gravel parking area. This is a popular spot and also has great wading when the water is lower.
This is my favorite canoe access point (mile marker 86.3). I feel like not as many people know about this one and it is the most peaceful and quiet. To get here, you drive into the main entrance of the park, bypass the normal parking lot and turn onto the gravel road by the little house where there is a canoe sign. You take a left down the gravel road and keep driving back until you reach the gravel parking area. You can wade along the river bank and throughout a lot of this part of the river when the water is lower. There are a lot of big rocks to sit on and it is a great place to bring kids to play in the water as well!
Williamson/Franklin Rec Center
To get to the Rec Center access point (mile marker 84.7) you drive as if you are going to the Rec Center but then instead of turning right into the parking lot, you turn left down a little road and can either park in the grass field where it says canoe access or you can park on the side of the road by the entrance of the river. The stairs here are a little more steep, harder to climb and it creates more of a challenge to get in and out of the water. It seems like this would be the hardest place to get a canoe or kayak in and out of the water, compared to the others but we do see people do it still!
The TSRA (Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association) and REI partnered to create a new canoe access point here! My husband and I helped build it out and this one is fantastic! The old one is still there too. But I definitely recommend using the new one :) It is just a little further down the path but in the same area and it comes down in the water in a better place so it should be easier to get canoes in and out from, as well as easier to wade/fish from! See the new pictures below.
To get to this access point (mile marker 83.7) you have to drive through the Rizer Point subdivision. There are a few parking spots along the street but are often full. You might have to find another spot along the street in the neighborhood depending on how busy it is. This spot has the longest walk from where you park to where you enter the water - you have to walk down a wooded trail a bit before you get to the stairs that take you down to the water. This is the last spot to get out of the river. There is not any shoreline here to walk along or much room to wade (at least when we went here).
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I am a food loving, activity seeking health coach who resides in Franklin, TN with my husband and two sweet dogs (Lola & Penny).
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