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Friday, February 13, 2009

Overton Park Arboretum Review

Old Forest Trail Arboretum
Overton Park, Memphis
Location: Poplar Ave. & Veterans Plaza Drive, Memphis, Tennessee (MAP)
Contact Info: Park Friends Inc.

Date Visited: 12-18-2008

Park Sign I stopped to visit the arboretum one cool December morning while passing through Memphis, TN. I was excited to visit this particular park because of the giant ex-National Champion Shumard Oak that is along the Old Forest Trail.

To say that I was not happy with my visit to Overton Park is understatement. I hope that the park has since improved.  I ventured into the park alone without properly researching it, only to later find out that it is a known location for male prostitution.  As I entered the park I observed a suspicious man waiting in his truck in the parking lot.  Failing to heed my intuition, I continued into the park and was approached by him on the trail.  After a brief verbal exchange he realized that I was not there for the same reason he was.  No conflict took place, only an extremely uncomfortable moment that reminded me to use better caution when going to parks alone.

Trail Map
Sign at Parking Lot

Welcome to HellThe entrance to the trail is anything but inviting.  Prior to venturing down the trail I paused here and considered returning to my car. I reluctantly passed through the graffiti gates and down the street beyond. Along the edge of the street a small foot worn trail split off into the woods. It did not appear to be a formal trail, but no other entrances seemed obvious.

OFT Ironwood Sign
As I progressed down the trail I came upon the first tree. "OFT Ironwood" the sign read. I took OFT to mean Old Forest Trail. No scientific nomenclature defined the tree any further.  It was here that I was approached and propositioned by the man from the parking lot.  I then promptly returned to my car and exited the park.

Further exploration of Overton Park will have to wait until another day. From what I observed the park is poorly maintained, the tree identification markers are inadequate, and safety is a consideration.

Observed Trees: