Things To Do
The Bike Gate arch at Sam Cooper and East Parkway that beckons cyclists into Overton Park makes it clear: the park is an essential link in Memphis’ growing cycling community. Connecting Downtown to Shelby Farms Park via the Hampline and the Shelby Farms Greenline, the Bike Gate plaza provides a welcome stop on the citywide trail system.
Sponsored by the First Tennessee Foundation and created by Youngblood Studio, the Bike Gate arch stands in the location where I-40 was once set to decimate Overton Park. Today, a bike/ped trail leads into the Old Forest, which offers two miles of paved trails underneath a canopy unlike any other in the city.
Running and Walking
Overton Park’s shaded forest trails are a favorite of runners throughout the city. The 1.4-mile limestone loop, offering a soft running surface, was renovated in 2012 with support from Rhodes College and Park Friends, who continue to offer volunteer maintenance. Runners and nature lovers alike enjoy the nearly four miles of dirt trails that wind throughout the 126-acre Old Forest. For a map of the park trails, click here.
The two-acre Veterans Plaza houses memorials dedicated to more than 2,500 Memphis and Shelby County veterans who were killed in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and Operation Desert Storm. It also features a doughboy statue erected in 1926 and a monument to “Memphis Belle” Margaret Polk erected in 2011.
Shaded by crape myrtles and lined with symmetrical plantings, the park’s formal gardens are a perfect place for relaxing and contemplating the beauty of the landscape. (They’re also a lovely place for a wedding!) Part of the park since the early 20th century, the formal gardens are maintained today by volunteers from the Daughters of the American Revolution – River City Chapter.
Overton Park offers two play areas – Rainbow Lake Playground on the west side of the park, and East Parkway Playground on the east side. Both feature plenty of big, beautiful trees to shade the picnic tables and benches, making them pleasant places for parents and kids alike.
Rainbow Lake Playground is an adventure playground–a space where kids of all ages can climb to great heights, exercise their imaginations, and bring creativity to their play. It features two large climbing structures, a Big Green Mound with a hollow tree tunnel and slide, swingsets, chess tables, an old-fashioned merry-go-round, a DIY building area, and two noise-making sculptures.
East Parkway Playground is a traditional playground with slides, swingsets, and climbing structures. A Little Free Library and picnic tables offer a place to relax.
Leashed dogs are welcome in Overton Park. For dogs who want to run free, there’s Overton Bark, a 1.3-acre enclosed dog park bordering the Old Forest and the Rainbow Lake Playground. The area includes water fountains, clean-up stations, and separate areas for large and small dogs. Rustic log benches provide a natural seating area for people to relax while their dogs socialize. Overton Bark is open from dawn to dusk each day.
Overton Bark is sponsored by Hollywood Feed, and admission is free.
Find Overton Bark on Facebook to see what’s happening at the park and chat with other fans!
It takes a lot of work to keep a popular place like Overton Park in top condition. That’s why we rely on volunteers to help us care for the park. Our primary volunteer activities are:
- Organizational events, where your business or organization gets in touch with us to develop a project that benefits both you and the park
- Volunteer work days, where you join a Conservancy activity such as repairing the limestone trail, planting flowers, or refreshing mulch at Overton Bark
- Special events, where you assist with setup, event activities, and/or teardown
Questions about Overton Park volunteer opportunities? Please contact Overton Park Conservancy at [email protected] or 901-214-5450.