By Mattie Ford

For those looking for outdoor adventures in West Tennessee’s vast landscape of streams, slews, and cotton fields, look no further. Tucked away in Haywood County, if you know where to look, are fishing holes, biking trails, and spots for bird watching galore. Curious about where to start? Here’s our list of Haywood County’s outdoor adventures you won’t want to miss.

Camp, Kayak, and Play at Serendipity

It is no coincidence that Brownsville’s newest venue and resort is dubbed Serendipity, as any outdoor adventurer would consider themselves lucky to spend an afternoon exploring the options they have available! For those young and young at heart, Serendipity’s 2.5 acre water park is a dream come true, complete with slides, obstacle courses, and places to splash and play. For those more interested in a peaceful day on the water, Serendipity rents paddle boards and kayaks to explore the lake. For those more in line with owner Daphne Landwer’s viewpoint, the best space available at Serendipity is the beach on the lake. “It’s so relaxing,” she says, “it feels like you’re not in Brownsville, like you’re way way away somewhere.”

Not interested in the water at all? Serendipity also offers almost fifteen miles of hiking trails and a hundred-foot-tall lookout tower for those hoping to explore the property on foot. No matter if your day is filled with play, paddling, lounging, or all of the above, Serendipity offers options for rest at the end of the day. Among the selection is RV hookups, tent sites, yurts, and cabins available to rent– a perfect place to regroup after a long day and recharge for another day of fun.

Hit the Rockin’ Roll Hatchie Trails

For those experienced adventure seekers or folks looking to try a new sport, the Rockin’ Roll Hatchie Trails may be the perfect place to spend an afternoon. Local mountain biker Mark Yoder built these trails after finding expansive trail systems in places like Florida, where there are few natural hills to work with. He took this as inspiration to build his own trail system in Brownsville and opted to take it a step further, putting his own West Tennessee twist on the project with references to the rich local music culture around every bend.

The trail system all combined is a little over four and a half miles long with approximately four hundred feet of elevation gain. Some of the difficult sections Yoder included are two-and-a-half foot drops off wooden features, small logs called “skinnies” that require delicate traversing, bridges to ride across, and steep elevation gain to endure. For those less interested in the built-in features of the trails, there are more moderate, beginner-friendly trails available.

Take the “Yank’s Mandolin” trail to pay homage to Brownsville blues legend Yank Rachell with a wooden feature built to look like a mandolin. Or there’s the option of riding down “Sleepy’s Twist,” a trail referencing Brownsville bluesman Sleepy John Estes, with curves, bends, and switchbacks. Of course, these trails are just as accessible to those looking for a place to walk or run as those hoping to break out their mountain bike. Yoder wants it primarily to be a place where people get outside, “getting better,” whether that’s through pushing their limits biking, having a space to birdwatch, or simply for those looking for a place to get some fresh air.

Find Some Quiet at Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge

More excited about the prospect of some peace and quiet than an adventure-filled day in the water or on the trails? The Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge may be more your speed. The Hatchie Wildlife Refuge is 11,556 acres of protected land spanning across the county with the express objective of protecting migratory birds. This land includes oxbow lakes, vast forests, and open grasslands, a beautiful array of scenery visible from gravel walking paths. The river is used in a variety of ways, depending on who is on it, as many folks love to bring out their canoe or kayak to poke around with, while some prefer the vantage point of a jon boat for fishing.

The Hatchie Refuge also allows hunting in accordance with state seasons and regulations, providing a different way to explore and enjoy the space. The Refuge operates, always, with a wildlife-first mindset, prioritizing the needs of the bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem before anything else. Use this space to take a walk, soak in the quiet, and scope out resident geese, wonder at the migratory songbirds, or try to seek out the occasional rare bird.

Learn (and See!) Something New at Hatchie BirdFest

For new and experienced birders alike, Brownsville’s annual Hatchie BirdFest is an opportunity to test your skills and connect with other outdoor enthusiasts. Hosted every year near the peak of spring migration, the Hatchie BirdFest offers an avenue for people to experience the local outdoors in a new and exciting way.

The BirdFest plans bird hikes throughout the weekend with various knowledgeable leaders and around different venues around town, including the Hatchie Wildlife Refuge and local landowners’ properties. The BirdFest is an opportunity for most to discover birds they’ve bever seen before, get advice from experienced birders, and even learn more about the plants and butterflies seen along the way. The festival makes a point to not limit itself only to birding, including in the schedule a pollinator-plant workshop from local plant nursery Willow Oaks, various guest speakers giving talks about environmental issues, and a night of live music and gathering in town. This festival is the perfect opportunity to enjoy local nature, learn something new, and get outside with locals and visitor outdoor enthusiasts alike!