Yesterday I attempted the Big River Crossing for the second time. The first try I had my dog with me, and the mile long grate walkway was just too much for her. She army crawled about 1/8th of the way (which was admirable considering that she jumps over grates on the sidewalk) and when I realized it wasn’t going to get better and stopped, she pulled me right onto solid ground in about a minute. So, this time I decided to go it alone. Alone is actually inaccurate as I saw many people out there. I didn’t know what to expect for a Monday around 11 in the morning, but there were kids on bikes, joggers, millennials taking selfies, seniors strolling with their loved ones, and just about everyone in between. A beautiful thing, really. It is nice that the city is providing more entertainment that is free, safe, accessible for all ages, and even willing dogs.
I recommend parking at Martyr’s Park and walking the unofficial route past the end of the walkway, through the Meditation Garden at the Church of the River, and around to the entrance on the Tennessee side. There really isn’t parking otherwise. Except for the street parking, the lots are for Channel 3 and the church itself.
I put on my music and started the walk. The river is beautiful, but I think the real showstopper is the structure of the bridge. The huge beams dwarf you, strong and solid, forming a protective lattice. It is something to behold, and it is hard to realize the scale when you are driving in a car. Being near the moving trains has another effect. You are taught (or I was) as a young child to be almost afraid of them, because they are big and loud and dangerous. Somehow they seem approachable, so it’s a good thing you are kept at a safe distance. Strangely they don’t sound very loud even when they’re moving next to you on the bridge. I wouldn’t have even noticed if others hadn’t stopped to watch.
There are a few places that are notched in and let you get closer to the edge with a slightly better view, but you don’t feel like there isn’t a bad place to be from what I can tell.
Something of note about the journey is that there is really a part one and part two. Part one being Tennessee and the river itself, then there is a descent into Arkansas in a covered walkway that is roughly half a mile (if you trust my Apple watch). We are in the bluff city here in Memphis, and it is no doubt higher than just across the river, but you really feel the change when you’re walking it. I can’t imagine how trippy it is on a bike, picking up speed, seeing the repetitive beams pass by faster and faster. Note: I saw a lot of kids walking their bikes at this point.
I hope that I make this trip many more times. It is lovely to experience on your own, but I can see myself taking friends from both in and out of town, or maybe someone else’s fearless dog with me in the coming years. Please do yourself a favor and see for yourself. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Disclaimer - It is further than it looks. It clocked in at about a mile from end to end each way. Just be ready for that if you plan on seeing the entire stretch.