Best Places to hike in Nashville, Tennessee
Known as the Music City, Nashville is characterized by its thriving pop culture and growing influence in music. But there’s more that the city has to offer than its catchy tunes and pop culture.
When you visit the city, make sure to take your time to go outside of the metropolitan area and explore the great outdoors. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the beautiful scenery that surrounds the city. With mild year-round weather, Nashville is the perfect place for hiking and recreation.
You may not know it yet, but Nashville and its nearby cities house thousands of miles of hiking trails. There, you can find several of the best waterfalls and trekking routes — perfect for beginners and seasoned hikers alike. But since it’s impossible to list every single one, this article aims to share only the best trails for you to enjoy.
Hiking in Nashville: 6 Trails To Explore
While Nashville isn’t the most popular hiking destination in the United States, you’ll miss out on a great opportunity if you overlook this prime destination. As a home for some of the best hidden natural gems, every adventure you take in and around the city will become an adventure you won’t forget.
Each trail offers unique experiences and pleasant surprises. The only way for you to discover them is to try them out for yourself. Here are some of the best hiking in Nashville.
Greeter Falls Loop
Trail Length: 0.8 miles
Location: 11745 US Hwy 41, Monteagle, TN 37356
Phone: (888) 867-2757
Greeter Falls Loop is found in the South Cumberland State Park, which spans over 30,800 acres of land across four various counties. When you visit this park, you can explore waterfalls, camping sites, and of course, hiking trails that will take you days to explore completely.
But, if you don’t have that much time to spare, you can plan your itinerary to fit only your favorite activities for the day. One of which could be a hike to the Greeter Falls Loop. Here, you not only get to immerse yourself in impressive forest trees, but you can also see three waterfalls and jaw-dropping bluffs. Moreover, if you’re a history buff, you’ll find here remnants of the Greeter home which have been in this world for over two centuries. Isn’t that thrilling?
If you have extra time to spare, you can extend your adventure to the Alum campground and explore more waterfalls in the area. Every corner of the park offers picturesque sceneries, so every step offers a brand new breathtaking experience. If you’re worried about getting lost in this big park, don’t be. You can download printable maps for free through their website. If you want to take it one step further, you can buy a Geo-referenced PDF map for only $0.99. With these tools at your disposal, you can feel more at ease as you take on an exciting outdoor adventure.
Stillhouse Hollow Falls Trail
Trail Length: 1.2 miles
Location: U.S. Highway 43, Summertown, TN 38474
Phone: (615) 532-0431
Just an hour’s drive away from Nashville you will find the Stillhouse Hollow Falls State Natural Area. To get there from Nashville, take 1-65 South to TN-396 W/Saturn Pkwy, exit toward 31 S, and take Highway 43 to your destination. After about 21 miles on Hwy 43, the parking lot will be on the right. This is a small 90-acre natural state area that features flat shale-bottom streams, seeps, waterfalls, and easy hiking trails.
Named after its iconic feature, the Stillhouse Hollow Falls, the park offers a direct trail that gives you immediate access to this impressive waterfall. About 0.70 miles in, you’ll already be able to see the majestic waterworks. Once you reach the end of the trail, you can see that the falls plunge to a height of around 75 feet to a deep hollow, where it is surrounded by steep slopes and a rich habitat of colorful wildflowers.
It’s the perfect spot to lay down your picnic blanket, sit on the ground, and just admire the sights and sounds of nature all around you. If you’re a lover of flowers, shrubs, and trees, you can find some of the most exotic varieties in the area here.
Some of the varieties of flora you can find along the trail include sugar maples, white oaks, sycamores, beeches, and tulip poplars. On top of that, you can also find spicebush, alder, and pawpaw. If you venture to the steeper slopes of the waterfall, you may encounter the pagoda dogwood and bladdernut, which give the space quite an enchanting atmosphere.
If you decide to visit this site, take note that parking is extremely limited. During peak days like weekends and holidays, the lot may even be full. To make sure you get a spot, arrive early or plan your trip on a weekday.
Bells Bend Loop Trail
Trail Length: 5.1 miles
Location: 4187 Old Hickory Blvd, Nashville, TN 37218
Phone: (615) 862-4187
Located just 25 minutes from downtown in western Davidson County is Bells Bend Park. The park takes its name from Cumberland River’s peaceful arc, also known as Bells Bend, and it’s a place where you can partake in easy hiking and immerse in agricultural history. Apart from the hiking trails, this rural preserve is also characterized by its bountiful wildlife and impeccable landscapes. It offers 808 acres of pastoral park and supports habitats for migratory birds, plants, and other creatures that give life to this vast open space.
When you visit the park in Nashville, you can get access to a uniquely-curated three-fold experience, which includes the cultivation of knowledge of the natural world, the development of outdoor recreation skills, and the understanding of cultural impacts on land.
To start your journey, begin at the Bells Bend Outdoor Center. From there, you can take on the Loop Trail which will take you through open pastures and river views. You then have the option to connect the loop with other trails for a more comprehensive outdoor experience or simply take a nice walk along the field of wildflowers.
The trails are relatively easy to navigate and traverse, so you can bring the whole family with you to take part in this unforgettable experience together.
Narrows of the Harpeth
Trail Length: 1.1 miles
Location: 1254 Narrows of the Harpeth Rd, Kingston Springs, TN 37082
Phone: (615) 952-2099
Want to go out of the city and explore Nashville’s surrounding towns? Just 26 miles (roughly 30 minutes) away from the city is the Narrows of Harpeth trail. It’s located in a park of the same name and offers the perfect path for hikers of all levels and ages — including kids! If you’re looking for a fun family adventure that everyone will enjoy, this can be at the top of your list.
The Narrows of Harpeth Trail passes through incredibly unique rock formations that your kids will be amazed by. As you walk through the woods, you’ll see why this is one of the most awe-inspiring places to visit for locals and visitors alike.
Upon passing through the woods, you’ll come across a landscape that’s straight out of a storybook, with tall trees with vibrant green leaves that turn golden brown during fall, epic waterfalls surrounded by an impressive rock formation, and an unparalleled view of nature at its finest. Without a doubt, the Narrows of Harpeth Trail is easily one of Tennessee’s most interesting natural wonders, and you don’t want to miss it.
Before you can feast your eyes on this beauty, however, you need to follow a 1.1-mile trail. Don’t worry, this is generally an easy route and takes around 27 minutes to accomplish. Because of its popularity, you’ll most likely encounter other people taking on the trail with you.
Burgess Falls Trail
Trail Length: 1.1 miles
Location: 4000 Burgess Falls Drive, Sparta, TN 38583
Phone: (931) 432-5312
Another nearby trail that you don’t want to miss is the Burgess Falls Trail. This is located in Burgess Falls State Park, just one and a half hours (around 80 miles away) from Nashville and it features one of Tennessee’s most spectacular falls: the Burgess Falls.
The Burgess Falls is a whopping 135-foot waterfall that wraps around a cliff. It’s astonishing to witness in person, especially during the winter season when the water levels are high or even when they’re completely frozen.
The trail to the falls is relatively short and easy, taking around 40 minutes to accomplish. But if you want to extend your hike and take on an added challenge, you can also explore another trail located in the park called the Ridgetop Trail Loop. This is a beautiful route that combines the upper, river, and ridgetop rails to form a hiking loop that takes you through thick forests and shallow rivers. The trail mostly follows a natural path, with only a portion along the service road. When you take this trail, you can encounter four other waterfalls, which you can admire and take pictures of.
Along the way, you might even come face-to-face with some of the natural wildlife living in the area.
Twin Falls and Down River Trail
Trail Length: 1.6 miles
Location: 82 Beach Rd, Rock Island, TN 38581
Phone: (931) 837-4770
By now, you can probably tell that many of the hiking spots in and around Nashville give you access to some of the most gorgeous waterfalls in the area. The Twin Falls and Down River Trail is no different.
Located in Rock Island State Park — 90 miles from Nashville —is one of many trails you can hike in the park. It will take you along the river path and bring you to two sets of magnificent waterfalls, also known as the Twin Falls.
What’s great about this terrain is that it has moderate intensity. While it may be a little bit of a challenge for beginners, it’s doable for most hikers.
If you’re interested in other trails the park has to offer, there are eight to choose from. A few notable ones include the Eagle Trail which is only 1.4 miles long and has a moderate intensity; the downstream trail which is 1.7 miles long with moderate intensity; and the blue hole trail which is 0.5 miles long but is extremely rocky and strenuous, ideal for seasoned hikers.
All of these trails pass by the Caney Fork Gorge area, where you can enjoy other recreational activities, including swimming, fishing, and rock hopping. Besides these, you can also go birdwatching as the area is also heavily populated with great blue herons. As much as you can enjoy yourself amidst abundant nature, it’s important to take caution in the gorge. The water may rapidly rise and the rocks can be slippery. Make sure to monitor your surroundings and be safe.
Experience the Best of Hiking Near Nashville
Nashville and its nearby towns have so many outdoor recreational activities to offer. Each city offers hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered, and you have the chance to uncover their beauty for yourself.
This guide can help you navigate the best hiking spots in the area so you don’t have to start from scratch. Pick a location that suits your preferences and select a trail that meets your level of experience. If you’re planning on hiking with your friends or family who have no prior hiking experience, be sure to choose routes that range from easy to moderate.
In these times, it’s always important to keep safety and comfort in mind. It’s only when you take extra caution that you can ensure everyone enjoys themselves and makes the most of the experience.
That being said, don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone and explore the world of the great outdoors through hiking near Nashville. You’ll be surprised at the natural wonders that hide within the thick forest trees.