Hikes in Memphis?! While Memphis is known for its amazing music scene (Elvis, Sun Studio, Stax Museum, and Beale Street Music Fest), world-class BBQ (and the world BBQ competition), and its pyramid right on the Mississippi River (which is an astonishing 1 mile wide at this point), it is definitely not known for its outdoor recreation opportunities.
You may think Memphis an unlikely place to find enough elevation change for a good stroll, but it's actually teeming with great outdoor areas to bring your family, friends, and pups. As a native Memphian, I grew up visiting most of these spots, and some of them have developed since I moved away. Whenever I come back to visit, I make sure to explore at least one of these!
Shelby Farms Park is a true hidden gem in Memphis. THIS should be one of the first things people think of when they think of this city - with a 100+ acre off-leash dog park, 4,500+ acres of open space (over 5 times bigger than Central Park, NYC!), a grazing herd of bison, a large lake for paddling, multiple fishing ponds, miles of paved and unpaved walking trails, and even more miles devoted to mountain bike trails, Shelby Farms boasts so much potential for outdoor recreation that it must be a stop on your next visit! I'll break down the main highlights right here:
This dog park is unlike any one I've seen - over 100 acres of complete off-leash fun for you and your pup. With rolling hills and 4 ponds for swimming, this massive area is certain to entertain and wear you and your dog out. Here's some footage of my dog Sonny taking it all in.
I'm not finished with Shelby Farms yet! In addition to all of the open space for both humans and pets, the Shelby Farms Greenline is a paved pedestrian/bike path that runs east-west through town. This path runs along what used to be railroad tracks. As of now, the Greenline is nearly 11 miles long and connects Midtown Memphis to east Memphis, leading you from a hip and funky part of town out to Shelby Farms Park itself. A connector is being constructed in Midtown Memphis, and before long you'll be able to run or bike from Downtown Memphis all the way to Shelby Farms in one go!
The Wolf River is a tributary of the Mississippi River, and it runs roughly east to west through Memphis. The Wolf River Greenway is a 26-mile pedestrian trail situated in east Memphis that currently runs just south of Shelby Farms Park. The walkway is paved and has many off-shooting unpaved hiking and biking trails. You could wander for hours along these trails, winding through huge oak trees, watching wildlife, and taking in the beauty of the Wolf River itself.
According to the website, the Wolf River Greenway has nearly another 10 miles of paved trail under construction, which when completed will connect Downtown Memphis all the way up to east Memphis. This Greenway will be distinct from the Greenline I wrote about above - Memphis is growing so many amazing ways to enjoy being outside!
One Last Outdoor Gem Memphis Offers
Actually that's two things - you outdoor enthusiasts might think that finding a good climbing gym in Memphis would be impossible, BUT the city boasts not one, but TWO awesome climbing facilities: Memphis Rox and High Point Climbing Gym. I haven't been to either yet, but I hear and see great things about them online. I'll give each a review once I'm able to check them out!