Little Hiker and I went to Bells Bend Park just outside of Nashville, which is well maintained by the city of Nashville. It was a Daddy/Daughter morning, and instead of picking a challenging trail that would require her to ride in her kid carrier for a long time, I decided to find an easy toddler friendly trail that she could "hike" all on her own. The Bells Bend trail was almost perfect (our friends at cloudhiking describe it nicely). The only thing it lacked was sufficient shade; despite that, we had a great time. This is definitely one of the trails we would come to again for this purpose. Another would be Old Hickory Trail in Nashville.
There are two ways to access the Bells Bend trail. One way is from the Bells Bend Outdoor Center, a nicely designed education center. The the other is at the secondary trailhead, which is just down the road at a separate entrance. I chose the latter option thinking there would be less cars and less people, which turned out to be right on. When we arrived the lot was empty. It was a quiet beautiful day, and the only people we saw the whole time we were out were each other.
The little one trekked on for about .25 mile (of the 2.5 mile loop) before we turned around and headed back. The trail was as wide as (and looked like) a narrow country road. It consisted of gravel, dirt, and grass, and was fairly flat (granted, we only saw .25 mile of the trail). She walked the whole way, although, not the whole time.
Anyone who tries this sort of thing with toddlers needs to be able to suspend expectations for trip length, trip duration, and...well, movement. You will not go as far as you would like, it will take a long time, and both of those are because your hiking companion has tiny legs, which will stop every few feet (or less) so their tiny hands can pick up tiny rocks, leaves, sticks, bugs, cigarette butts (seriously people...why smoke on a trail, and why leave the butts there?) and so much more. It's amazing to watch her explore and learn.
We made it back to the trailhead at our own (her) leisurely pace. There were still no cars in the parking lot except for ours. The sky was full of blue, and so were her eyes. I asked her is she had fun, and her eyes got a little bluer as she said, "Yes, Daddy". How much better could a morning be?