FRANKLIN THEN & NOW HISTORICAL TRAIL
A BSA HISTORIC TRAIL
The Boy Scouts of America Outdoor Department has awarded Franklin Then & Now Historical Trail status as a BSA Historic Trail as can be seen here. To be granted this status, a trail must meet a stringent 24 point specification which proves its historical significance, safety, administration, and responsibility.
This 10 mile hike explores the fascinating history of Franklin, Tennessee including the 1864 Battle of Franklin and many other historic and iconic places and events. It also shows the beauty and charm of today’s Franklin. Many of the sites you will visit are related to the Battle of Franklin, but other historical Franklin sites are also included. You will see cannons, antebellum homes, both a Civil War fort and cemetery, and historic monuments. The Franklin Then & Now Historical Trail was developed in 2016 by Wyatt Hall of Troop 137 in Franklin for his Eagle Scout project.
The trail begins at Winstead Hill Park on Columbia Avenue (Hwy 31) south of the intersection with Mack Hatcher Parkway. There is parking available at Winstead Hill Park. The trail ends at the The Factory of Franklin at 230 Franklin Road. There is a free parking lot at The Factory but be aware that Saturdays from 8:00am until 1:00pm there is a Farmers Market at The Factory and if you get there after the start of that, you likely won't find a spot to park. If you plan on dropping a vehicle in this time period, I can offer alternatives. Vehicles can be dropped off in the lot prior to starting the trail to shuttle back to your vehicles at Winstead Park.
Groups or individuals wishing to hike the trail need to complete and submit the application form. The application must be received one week prior to hike date to qualify for awards. The trail is free to hike. It is created by scouts, but it is open to all who wish to hike it.
Groups should allow 6 to 8 hours to complete the trail depending on speed, focus, and size of the group as well as number and length of meal, rest, or snack breaks. Be sure to start early enough to allow plenty of daylight for your group to finish prior to dusk.
The trail is not strenuous. It is mostly flat although there is one moderate climb up to Fort Granger. You will be walking in grassy and possibly muddy areas so hiking boots or similar footwear should be worn.
What to bring: water, sunscreen, first aid kit, bug spray, rain gear, snacks or lunch, questionnaire & directions(can be shared), answer sheet(1 per hiker), credentials card(1 per hiker), pen/pencil, something to bear down on.
There are many restaurants as possible lunch stops along the route including Chick-Fil-A on Columbia Avenue (between questions 10 & 11), Moe’s BBQ on Columbia Avenue (between questions 34 & 35 on the trail) and Franklin Mercantile Deli on 4th Avenue just north of Main Street (between questions 38 & 39 on the trail). If you pack in your lunch, there are many places along the route which would be good locations to stop and eat including the Eastern Flank Battlefield Park, Collins Farm, Pinkerton Park which has picnic tables, or Fort Granger which also has picnic tables in the parking lot as you leave the fort. Please properly dispose of all trash.
There are public restrooms along the trail at Winstead Hill, Eastern Flank Battlefield Park, Carter House Visitors Center, Pinkerton Park, and inside The Factory.
If your group desires to walk the grounds at Carnton Mansion where the slain Confederate generals’ bodies were laid, they charge $6 per person. This trail grants a good view of the front of the mansion for free, but some hikers may desire to pay the fee and get a closer look. There are also museums and tours at the Carter House and Lotz House for a fee. None of these museums, tours or fees are associated with Franklin Then & Now Historical Trail, but hikers may wish to do them along the trail. If you choose to do that, be mindful of the time that will add to your hike.
The closest publicly available tent camping facilities are Henry Horton State Park in Chapel Hill, TN which is 28 miles southeast of the starting point of the trail and Long Hunter State Park in Hermitage, TN which is about 30 miles north of Franklin. Reservations are required for either campground. Both have restrooms, potable water, picnic tables and fire rings.
Henry Horton State Park (931) 364-7724
Long Hunter State Park (615) 885-2422 – ask for “Group Campsite”
Scout groups can reserve campsites at Middle Tennessee Council's camps. Call council office for availability (615)-383-9724.
Boxwell Reservation – Lebanon, TN. 52 miles NE of trail
Charles Parrish Reservation – Walling, TN. 95 miles SE of trail.
Grimes Canoe Base - Linden, TN, 97 miles west of trail.
Cellular service is good throughout the trail for most if not all carriers.
There are many churches along Main Street for Sunday morning services if desired by your group including St. Phillips Catholic, St. Paul’s Episcopal, and Historic Franklin Presbyterian, all of which you will visit on this trail.
Second Class & Merit Badge Requirements
Second Class requirement #3b Using a compass and map together, take a 5-mile hike approved by your adult leader and your parent or guardian. The 5 mile mark is at the antique stores on Lewisburg Pike near Stewart Street between questions 29 & 30. Hiking either from the start of the trail to that location or from that location to the end of the trail is a 5 mile hike. While the trail does not require the use of a compass, the leader could test the scout on what direction they are heading, etc. to bring it to compliance.
Citizenship in the Nation Requirement #2a Visit a place that is listed as a National Historic Landmark or that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Tell your counselor what you learned about the landmark or site and what you found interesting about it. This hike visits many such places.
Hiking Merit Badge Requirement #4 Take the five following hikes, each on a different day, and each of continuous miles. These hikes MUST be taken in the following order:
American Heritage Merit Badge Requirement #4e Visit a historic trail or walk in your area. After your visit, share with your counselor what you have learned. Discuss the importance of this location and explain why you think it might qualify for National Register listing.
TRAIL MEDAL AWARD
How do we hike the trail?
All groups or individuals wishing to hike the trail should click on the "APPLICATION TO HIKE THE TRAIL" button above. Complete and submit the form. Please submit the form at least one week in advance. Then print out the "DIRECTIONS, MAP & QUESTIONNAIRE". We recommend you have at least one set of directions per 10 hikers but you can have as many as you like. Print one answer sheet and one credential card for each hiker. Each hiker will need a pen or pencil and something to bear down on to record the answers on their own answer sheet if they wish to purchase awards upon successful completion of the hike or just to get the most out of the trail even if they do not desire to purchase awards.
The trail is free to all to hike. Those who successfully complete the trail and questionnaire have the option of purchasing award patches and medals.
Rules & Regulations
Several portions of the trail follow and cross Franklin’s roads, some of which may be quite busy. The trail instructions will tell you which side of the road is safest and where you can cross safely. Leaders should keep close tabs on the youth when the trail follows a road and make sure all hikers stay clear of the traffic and stay safe. An orange or yellow safety vest is recommended for the front and rear hikers.
Scout groups must include two deep adult leadership 21 or older.
Scout groups should wear Class A uniform. During very warm weather Class B uniform (scout t shirt and scout shorts) is acceptable.
All hiking groups should carry a complete first aid kit. Bug spray and sunscreen may also be desirable.
Each scout group should prepare its own BSA tour and activity plan if required, and it is recommended even when not required. Requirements and forms can be found at:
Always show good courtesy on the trail. Walk single file on the sidewalk when necessary to not block or force other pedestrians off the sidewalk.
Properly dispose of all trash. We encourage recycling!
Do no damage, vandalize, or deface any public or private property, monuments, trees, or anything else.
Franklin Emergency & Authorities
Williamson Medical Center & Emergency Room
4321 Caruthers Parkway
900 Columbia Avenue (you will walk past this police headquarters on this trail)
Emergency - 911
Patches and trail medals are available for purchase to all who have successfully hiked the entire trail on foot, answered the questionnaire, complied with all trail rules, and submitted the "APPLICATION TO HIKE" prior to their hike. The group leader should complete the "AWARD ORDER FORM" form (link above) and send it in with payment along with answer sheets and credentials forms for each hiker. Awards are strictly optional and purchase is not required. Those who qualify for awards may purchase up to 5 patches and up to 3 medals. The patch and medal were designed by Alaster Redmond, a scout in Troop 137.
Franklin Then & Now Historical Trail is part of Memphis Historical Trails, Inc.