Rock Island and Greeter Falls, TN


My friend from Arkansas contacted me a few months ago about coming to the Nashville area and doing some hiking. Right away I started making a plan to rival the one Carolyn had made for me when I visited earlier this year. I created a loop that took us from breakfast in Nashville, to Rock Island State Park, and then down to Greeter Falls in Savage Gulf State Natural Area, and then back to Nashville again. A perfect day trip that had us leaving Barista Parlor by 9am and arriving back in the city at about 6:30pm.

Any time people come to visit, I make sure they experience the glory that is a Barista Parlor biscuit. It’s the perfect way to start out a day of driving and hiking and then driving and hiking some more. My friends were definitely not disappointed, but honestly who in their right mind has ever been disappointed by that miraculous biscuit??


Our first stop was twin falls at Rock Island. This is one of the best middle Tennessee falls you can see for the least amount of work. Trail time is about five minutes before you can hop off and start rock scrambling out to the side of the river. You’ll be able to get pretty close to the falls so prepare yourself to get a little wet from the spray. We hung out at the falls for a bit before driving to a restaurant in McMinnville for lunch. Collins River BBQ and Cafe
gets a 10/10 from us if you need a bite before heading to a new location.

We drove about an hour down to Savage Gulf to hike Greeter and Boardtree Falls. It’s about a mile and a half hike to see both falls. There is definitely some elevation changes in the trail but nothing overly strenuous - hiking poles or a walking stick is always helpful no matter the terrain.


Greeter, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful locations in TN. White falls cascading into a pool of perfect blue water. Even though it was warm that day, the water was so cold that the bottom of the falls was a bit icy. It created such a beautiful shine at the base.


We had the falls to ourselves for a bit and then worked our way back up the trail - and the slippery spiral staircase - to find the suspension bridge and the top of Boardtree Falls. This falls isn’t anything spectacular, but it’s unique in that you can easily walk out on the top of the falls since the water is always pretty calm. There’s usually a dry rock right at the top where you can sit and take in the view.


This is a great day trip if you want to get the most out of your time. Roundtrip it’s about a 4 hour drive, but with all the views and hiking, it feels like much less. However, if there is extra time in your day, there are multiple other state parks and natural areas to and from both locations. Middle Tennessee has unlimited possibilities!

Thoughts From A Beginner Trail Runner

I’ve decided to give up road running. It’s boring, kills my knees, and it’s boring (Twice for emphasis). One of my buddies - check out his killer podcast - is a major trail runner and a total inspiration for me to actually run even though I hate running. If someone twice my age can start doing this and run ULTRA marathons, I have zero excuses. I’ve always been a hiker with a long stride, so trail running seems like the next step.

So here are a few things I've learned/discovered from my extremely short time trail running. (Honestly guys. I’ve only run trails about three times and I can’t even run flat out for a mile without feeling like my lungs are filled with sand, so take all this with a grain of salt.)

New Balance trail runners are good if yo have hobbit feet like me!

New Balance trail runners are good if yo have hobbit feet like me!

Actually Use Trail Running Shoes - Even on the easiest and most stable trails, I’ve eaten it hard due to less than ideal traction on a crappy pair of nikes, and had to walk off the trail with my bum covered in mud. Not the best outcome when you’re already self conscious about running in the first place.

Find a Friend Who Isn't Intimidating - Going alone is fun and empowering, but it’s nice to have someone go with you. Find a running buddy who is either at your level, or who isn’t going to push you too far when you’re just starting. Take a pal who will let you heave through the hard parts at a snail’s pace.

Paige is my non-indimidating friend.

Paige is my non-indimidating friend.

Take Water - I sweat. A lot. I think that’s been addressed in another blog post, but yeah I lose about as much water as I take in, so I take WAY more water than the average person. This may not apply to you but I thought I’d throw it in since I take hydration a little too seriously.

It's Okay to Just Hike Fast - If you already aren’t a strong runner (I’m a prime example) don’t be discouraged by not “running” the entire trail. Just hike it as fast as you can manage and enjoy the fact that you are outside surrounded by trees.


Eyes on the Ground - You’re going to be moving fast over roots, rocks, puddles, and who knows what else. Keep those eyes on the ground or you’re gonna end up with a mouth full of dirt.

Spiders are Everywhere - Unfortunately, you’re probably going to receive a face full of spiders on literally any trail you choose. So, suck it up and like I said above, keep your eyes on the ground, for safety and for maybe a little less fear of the webs + web makers going in your mouth.

Good luck to anyone starting trail running. It’s such a fun and rewarding way to take advantage of the trails near you. If you happen to be in the area, hit me up if you’d like an extremely slow running partner, and here are some links to a few great trail running areas!

Nolin Lake State Park
Mammoth Cave National Park
Low Hollow Trail
Lost River Cave Trails


ending a run with yoga, sunset, and a lake doesn't hurt...

How I Plan a Trip

Planning a trip can be stressful especially when all your friends constantly want you to be the one to plan it. That’s a lot of pressure. Not only are you in charge of all plans, but also you feel some responsibility for the safety and fun of the trip. So where do you begin?


First you have to pick a place and activity. Do you want to camp, hike, swim, climb, mountain bike, or all of the above? Nail down the location and activities and go from there. I use a lot of different resources for trip ideas.

  • Rootsrated  -has a lot of good articles on state specific hikes and camp spots.
  • AllTrails - can help you find a ton of trails that are accessible in your area
  • National Park Service - the NPS and NFS websites have everything you need to know about national parks, forests, and recreation areas that you might be interested in.
  • State Park Websites - Every state in our country has some sort of state park tourism website that should tell all the parks, campgrounds, lakes, and rivers that are open to the public
  • - This is a government run site that is a great resource for finding campsites
  • Instagram - I can’t even tell you the amount of trips i’ve been on that were initially inspired by instagram posts. Follow some outdoorsy folks in your area and metaphorically stalk their movements. You’ll find some awesome places!
  • Local Outdoor Stores - Last but not least, go pick the brains of the employees at your local outdoors store. Nine times out of ten they’ll have a great recommendation for you.

Now that you’ve scouted some locations and activities, make a rough budget and a detailed list.

Your budget doesn’t need to be complicated. Just the basics of how much gas you’ll need for the entire trip (hello google maps!), food budget, spending money, extra wiggle room in case anything comes up like you need to unexpectedly book a hotel cause your camp site is sketchy.
Side note: especially if you are on a ladies only trip: trust your instincts. A woman’s intuition is NOT a joke. If something feels “off”, trust it. Pack it up and get out. 9 times out of 10 there’s a logical reason for you having those feelings. Better safe than sorry even you miss out on a dope campsite. End Side Note.
This will allow you to divide all your expenses between however many people are on the trip and have everyone plan accordingly.

I’m a huge advocate of absurdly detailed lists. I create a google doc with bulleted lists of GPS coordinates, campsite information, grocery lists, and packing lists. It’s also a great way to have a collaborative lists in case your travel companions want in on the planning process. I also make sure that I have my rough timeline sketched out on that same google doc with links to each location/activity so I can easily click into them in case of confusion (and there will be lots of confusion if you’re on a trip with me…)

I think the key to dealing with confusion and stress on a trip is to be well planned in the beginning. If you KNOW you’re going to be okay because you have appropriate plans and supplies in place, it takes a huge burden off you as the trip planner because no matter what, you know survival is possible.

Now that the main logistics are out of the way and you are super psyched to go on your trip. Start the packing and shopping process. I have a usual set of road trip/camping snacks that I stick to, but I also make sure that I meal plan for each day of the trip. If you’re going to be close to groceries/civilization I don’t worry about three meals a day, but I nail down dinner plans (with a rain backup) for every night. It gives me a sense of comfort to know what I’m eating every night along with where I'm sleeping.


My go to food and snacks for all weather include fresh fruit, cliff bars, cheese and crackers, and some freeze dried meals. I would eat the backpacker’s pantry chicken and rice every night of my life it was acceptable. You don’t have to spend a lot to eat well on a road trip. Grab some fruit, raw veggies, and some crackers and you’ll have it made. It’s really easy to eat bad and feel terrible on a road trip so as I’ve gotten older it’s become important to eat well so you can play well.

When you have your bag sitting empty on the ground surrounding by a pile of gear and food it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Don’t freak out. You made a list! Print it out, pull it up on your phone, I don’t care how you do it, but just check off the stuff you’re taking one thing at a time. I usually even have a list of exactly what clothes I’m taking. And so far (knock on wood) I’ve never left an important item at home. Sure I’ve forgotten a few things but these lists are going to make sure you have the essentials. Oh and by the way, If you’ve got all your gear in one place this is the time to take the cliche flat-lay shots of all your gear...we’ve all done it…no shame.

Alrighty. You’ve got the plan, the people, the supplies, and the highway  in front of you. Make sure you have the killer playlist to carry you through all the ups and downs and winding back roads. Spotify is my favorite because you can download your playlists offline so internet isn’t a necessity. Also you can make collaborative playlists so all your friends can add jams to the trip soundtrack.


Lastly, check the weather like your life depends on it. Or at least like the trip depends on it. Keep an eye out especially if you're going to the mountains where weather can change instantly. Be prepared and make sure you don't let rain or storms kill the mood. It's uncomfortable in the moment, but you'll laugh about it later on. 

PHEW. You’re done. All that’s left is to start the car and grab some coffee on the way out of the city.


all photos from Washington State trip 2016

Top Five Views Within 3 Hours of Bowling Green, Kentucky

     I frequently get asked where good hikes are in our area. Bowling Green has a couple local favorites, but unfortunately living in cave country doesn't make for many good views above the ground. If you are looking for a stunning spot to soak in the landscape, you've got to be willing to drive a ways. These are five of my favorite places that are within a three hour drive of Bowling Green.  

5. Narrows of the Harpeth - TN

     The Narrows is only about an hour and a half away in Tennessee. It's the perfect spot to take in the sunrise with a cup of coffee. The river below the overlook is beautiful and there is even a man made water feature if you want to extend your trip. The hike to the top is about a mile long but it's straight up so be prepared for a steep path. 

4. Pilot Rock - KY

     Pilot Rock is an hour away in Todd County. And though I wouldn't call it much of a hike, It's basically a flight of stairs and then a quick rock scramble to the top of the cliff. This is definitely the best view for the least amount of work. Sunset's up here are nothing short of magical. You do have to deal with what the graffiti goons have left behind, but the rolling Kentucky hills and sprawling farmland make up for it.

3. Eagle Falls - KY

     Eagle falls is located in Cumberland Falls State Park, two and half hours away. It's a heavily trafficked trail two mile trail that not only gives you this pay off, but yields beautiful views of the larger Cumberland Falls along the trail. Bring your swim suit if it's warm out, Eagle Falls makes the perfect swimming hole. 

2. The Pinnacles - KY

     The Pinnacles are located two and half hours away in Berea, Ky. This trail system has a West Pinnacle and an East Pinnacle and multiple other overlooks along the way. The entire area holds 6-8 miles of trails depending on how you hike them. Bring a snack and soak in the views from all directions!

1. Dog Slaughter Falls - KY

     Dog Slaughter Falls (yes I know, the name is terrible)  is also located in the Cumberland Falls area. It maxes out the travel restrictions I've put on this blog post, but three hours in the car is worth it, I promise. This is a 2.2 mile trail that snakes alongside a beautiful stream all the way to the end. It's the most relaxing hike listening the the sound of water the entire way. In the summer it will be busy, but not as much as Eagle Falls since it isn't as close to the main state park attractions. 

     Get out there and take a day trip. It doesn't have to be far to be rewarding!