Hiking in Nashville has it all.
Nashville is known for a lot of things. Music, food, and Nashville’s rocking social scene are this city’s primary calling cards. It’s not best known for its hiking trails, and its epic hikes, which is a bit of a shame. Nature lovers coming to Nashville for the first time might be surprised at the plethora of hiking options available in and around the city.
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Hiking in Nashville
So what does hiking in the vicinity of Nashville offer? Scenery, tranquility, lush greenery, and a seemingly infinite amount of waterfalls, for starters. With a spectacular amount of choices, from a laid-back ramble all the way up to a real sweat-inducing trek, Nashville’s hiking trails await.
Get your hiking shoes on and let’s explore!
First up, let’s start off with a few easier hikes.
You’ll see it everywhere when searching for hiking in Nashville. It’s very popular, and understandably so. A simple but beautiful trail in a loop around the water, it’s manageable for just about everyone. Just perfect for a sunny day to see the sunlight sparkling off the lake.
Love animals? The park is home to otters, owls, mink and waterfowl as well as many reptiles. Take your camera, and hope to spot a creature in its natural habitat amongst the wildflowers.
Not only that, the rangers of the park organize different activities for tourists, including nightly astronomy walks and interesting programs on snakes and birds of prey.
Hike Length: 2.4 miles
If you google hiking in Nashville you’ll see image after image of waterfalls. Cascading over resolute rock formations, these wonderful displays of nature are the reason why so many visit.
Burgess Falls comes under the ‘relaxed’ level in hiking. A little further out, it’s a short trek that packs a lot of punch. This is where you’ll see the spectacular 135ft waterfall – it’s unreal!
Tip: take a walk around the state park itself, where several tracks branch out to incorporate three additional falls.
Hike Length: 1.1 miles
Twin Falls and Down River
Let’s talk a little more about those waterfalls. Twin Falls and Down River is an easy hike with fantastic views of these wonders. A couple of hills and a relatively level walkway, it suits most for an afternoon to wile away the time amongst gorgeous scenery.
Hike Length: 1.6 miles
Blue Hole Falls
Blue Hole Falls is a picture-perfect hove, a location sprinkled with swimming holes and dive points. A short hike in Nashville but a steep one, and pretty doable by most accounts. Worth it to refresh yourself in the clear water.
Hike Length: 1.1 mile
Narrows of the Harpeth
If a flat track is what you are after, three different trails form Narrows of the Harpeth. Known for easygoing tracks to moderate, this is a level grassland perfect for jogging or conversational strolls.
The park itself is a hot spot for kayaking and canoeing. Dotted with swimming holes and beach spots, it’s a fantastic way to cool off whilst out and about.
Within this park intrepid hikers will also find Newsom Mill Fisherman Trail, Gosset Tract, and Hidden Lakes.
Hike Length: 0.2 miles, 2 miles and 3 miles
Mid Range – Moderate Hikes in Nashville
Next up, let’s up the challenge and talk about a few moderate hikes in Nashville.
Montgomery Bell State Park has a cluster of moderate tracks resulting in 19 miles overall. Here you’ll see forests and lakes with deer and raccoons and a variety of flora to enjoy.
Once known for its mining sites, around you’ll find old remnants of the iron industry in stark contrast to the surrounding natural landscape.
For an open green space, head to Mossy Ridge. With the added bonus of being right inside the city, it’s a hilly track through some really quite beautiful moss covered forest path.
Hike Length: 4.9 miles
Fall Creek Falls State Park again has a wonderful mixture of tracks and includes famous falls such Cane Creek Cascades, Piney Falls and its 256ft namesake Fall Creek Falls. Check this park out for mid to moderate routes of pure beauty.
Rugged and a bit steep, Cummins Falls is a rocky path stuffed with wildflowers. Part of the path requires an adventurous wade through a river which keeps it interesting!
Hike Length: 3 miles
Challenging Hikes in Nashville
Hiking expert? Then this section is for you. Here are a few challenging hikes in Nashville!
South Cumberland State Park is home to two of the most wicked hikes in Nashville; Fiery Gizzard and Collins Gulf. Spread across 15,000 acres of Tennessee landscape it contains sheer cliffs, deep fissures and underground streams.
The waterfalls and the views of the terrain here are simply breathtaking. A respected landmark, the Stone Door is a 10ft by 100ft crack forced into the rock resembling an enormous door left ajar. It’s totally worth a look.
Fiery Gizzard is a tough course with a big reward. Clamber over rugged terrain and rocks to see some truly spectacular views. The narrow paths and steep incline ensure that you’ll work up a sweat.
Watch your step, this path is strewn with rocks and tree roots, requiring patience and a sure foot!
A trek not for the faint-hearted.
Hike Length: 9.6 miles
Collins Gulf Trail
Gorges and streams wind through this hardened land. Water plummets from dizzying heights to vanish into clear pools and rivers.
A section of the Collins Gulf Trail requires crossing the Collins River itself by a staggering 100ft high suspension bridge! Hiking in Nashville just got more serious.
Hike Length: 10 miles
With a nameless menacing than the previous two paths, Virgin Falls is more lengthy than the difficult route. It’s scattered with excellent viewpoints that make the long journey worthwhile.
Overlook Junction and Martha’s Pretty Point to name a couple. The falls themselves emerge from a cave and drop quite spectacularly into another below from 110ft.
Head out early in the day to ensure you finish by nightfall.
Hike Length: 9 miles
Information on all the state parks, such as how to get there, can be found on this nifty site.
So, that rounds up a fine collection of tracks and trails for the amateur to the more seasoned adventurer. But what should you take on these escapades?
Essentials for Hiking in Nashville
The most important part of a hike is your feet. Look after them with a solid pair of hiking boots! Ankle support is a must, and a waterproof boot doesn’t go amiss either.
Water, water, water! Invest in a decent reusable bottle, the market is saturated with them during this plastic-free age, and ensure you take enough to keep you well hydrated.
If the sun is out, keep that face youthful from the rays with sunscreen and a hat that covers it. Future you will thank you.
Clothing. You want to be comfortable, the right temperature and perhaps need something with a little more give if you plan to be scrambling over rocks.
Always check the weather before you head out. Layering up with breathable material is always a safe bet.
Also, along the lines of comfort when hiking in Nashville, take a bug repellent. Worth taking, because if you don’t have it those itchy marks will drive you bananas as a lasting, and less than treasured, memory of that wonderful hike.
Trekking poles are recommended for some paths, it’s up to you if you think you’d be more comfortable with them. Many are foldable so don’t take up much space in your bag.
A portable first aid kit is a good idea. You want to look after yourself and a little portable pack with the essentials ensures you are covered for any situation.
Something to carry this all in, a neat lightweight pack. Take a look at our hiking backpack round up to help you choose the right one!
Why Hike in Nashville?
Now, everyone knows hiking has some incredible benefits, and even a short trek is great to get some fresh air in the lungs.
It helps build muscle and it’s amazing for your cardiovascular health, and it’s also nourishing for your mind and emotional well-being too!
Time to unplug from technology, reconnect with the natural world around you and feel soothed by its energy. Not to mention, you’re going to need to burn off all that Nashville food you eat on your visit!
We hope you enjoy these parks and falls when hiking in Nashville, and remember to slow down, live in the moment and be present. Pythagorus said it best – ‘leave the road, and take the trails’.
As always, happy travels all! We’ll see you on the road!