Top Ten Campsites near Nashville and Memphis

Meeman-Shelby State Park
  |  Gorp.com
Essentials

Directions: To reach Meeman-Shelby State Park, drive north from I-240 on exit 2A to US 51. Head north on US 51 for four miles to Watkins Road, TN 388. Turn left on 388 and follow it seven miles to Locke Cuba Road. Turn left on Locke Cuba Road and follow it.5 mile to Bluff Road. Turn right on Bluff Road to enter the park.

Fees: Campsites are $14 per night.

Information: Call (901) 876-5215, or visit www.tnstateparks.com.

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The Mississippi River made Memphis. So it's only fitting that one of the best nearby getaways lies on the banks of the Old Muddy River. What surprises most visitors is the abundance of outdoor activities—hiking, biking, and paddling—all in a serene park that is so close to downtown. We're talking 15 miles as the crow flies. Located north of the city on the Chickasaw Bluffs, this park was first developed by the National Park Service and later deeded to the state of Tennessee.

The first surprise will be the vast forests you'll find in the steep ravines of the Chickasaw Bluffs. Large beech, tulip, and sycamore trees grow in the ravines, while towering oaks thrive on the higher ground.

Dogwood Ridge Campground lies amid a tall deciduous forest. The spacious sites are a little close together, but infrequent use increases the likelihood of having some privacy. There is water, electricity, and hot showers at the campground.

The Chickasaw Trail runs eight miles along the western edge of Chickasaw Bluff, spanning streams that flow to the Mississippi. Keep an eye out for plentiful wildlife as you go, such as hawks, beaver, and raccoons. The Woodland Trail winds through forest along creeks and past small oxbow lakes. The Pioneer Springs Trail passes an historic water source, used by the Chickasaw Indians and settlers alike, as it cruises along the base of the bluffs. Mountain bikers can ply the Bicycle Trail, which makes a five-mile car-free trek. Both paved and gravel roads offer other pedaling opportunities.

Lately, I've seen more and more sea kayaking the Mississippi. Paddlers drop their boats into the swift water and cruise the scenic shoreline. One trip, which requires a shuttle, heads downstream from Meeman-Shelby 18 miles to Mud Island. Along the way are sand bars in excess of 100 acres that make for riverine beachcombing.


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