Tennessee is one of the nation’s best hiking states, so head out anytime between now and late fall to enjoy some of the most beautiful natural sites on earth. Today we’re sharing our top Middle Tennessee hiking spots!
The following ten trail locations, each unique in difficulty and terrain were collected to suit every hiking level. Whether you’re a wheelchair user or a seasoned wilderness hiker, you’ll find your next hike below. Please visit the site linked for each destination for further details, including hours of operation, pet policies, and descriptions of the hiking trails available.
Harpeth River State Park’s Hidden Lake is reachable by three trails. You’ll pass through a meadow thick with wildflowers, a shady forest, and rounded bluffs to the shoreline of the lake. If you want to reach the next ridge, continue up the 1-mile spur trail. Once there, you’ll see a bare marble floor, the last remaining vestige of a once-bustling 1940s-era resort. We love this spot for a picnic!
Radnor Lake State Park offers nearly 8 miles of trails that are reserved for wildlife observation, hiking, and photography. The park is home to waterfowl (including herons), owls, otter, mink, and dozens of amphibian and several reptile species. The flora includes mosses, ferns, fungi, trees, and vines in addition to the hundreds of wildflower species that pepper the entire park. The Lake Trail is accessible to visitors who use all-terrain wheelchairs.
Warner Park is a lush, wild landscape that ranges from wide swaths of meadows to primitive trails winding through the woods. In all, there are 12 miles of dirt path hiking trails, nearly 9 miles of paved multi-use trails, 3 miles of paved trail that merge with the Harpeth River Greenway, 10 miles of horse trails, and 2 courses dedicated for cross-country runners.
Visit the nature center to pick up a map and find the central trailhead. The diverse length of the trails, their varied difficulties, and the availability of smooth running trails make this park’s hiking ideal for families with young children and seasoned hikers alike.
Long Hunter State Park’s over 20 miles of hiking trails include gentle strolls to challenging trail hikes, a paved arboretum trail, and a trail that runs along the lake’s shore. Keep your eyes peeled for hawks, warblers, wood thrush, barred owls, woodpeckers, ducks, vireos, raccoons, bald eagles, bobcats, deer, and dozens of other species. The plant life here is incredibly diverse; wildflowers, mature sassafras, and oak-hickory forests are just a few of the flora gems you’ll find along the way.
Twelve trails meander through a wide range of terrains, so it’s easy to find a trail that’s right for you. Choose from flat trails winding along limestone glades, wild and rocky trails, mountain bike paths, scenic lakeside paths, arboretum paths, and peaceful prairie strolls.
The Narrows of the Harpeth is beloved for its three unique hiking trails. Hikers can tackle a steep hike to a bluff overlooking Harpeth Valley, skirt behind the limestone bluff on the way to Pattison Forge and a small waterfall, or hike along the river (during low tides only). The Montgomery Bell Tunnel is of special interest; the 290-foot tunnel descends 16 feet in total. Hikers who arrive early may spot turtles, though high levels of human and canine activity throughout the day tends to make wildlife hide away.
Although Beaman Park is just outside Nashville, it presents a great challenge for hikers who take on this 2,100-acre natural park. The steep Ridgetop Trail winds through the forest and along the rocky ridgeline, ascending a total of 1,000 feet. Along the way, take breaks amidst the wildflowers, walk along the accessible boardwalk, and peer down at the sprawling forests below.
Bledsoe Creek State Park offers hikers complete immersion into the forest landscape. While the trails tend to be prohibitively muddy after heavy rains, it’s ideal in warm, sunny weather. Hike through 164 acres, including ADA-compliant opportunities and trails that run along Cairo, a 1780s settlement site.
Ozone Falls is one of Tennessee’s most popular natural destinations. This 43-acre retreat includes the falls after which it’s named. Ozone Falls cascades from 100 feet high, ending in a deep, rocky pool. Fall Creek then enters the bedrock before emerging downstream. Over geologic time, the waters have created a natural “amphitheater,” which has drawn filmmakers and photographers to this uniquely beautiful spot. On your hike, stop at the sandstone glades, wander through the oak and pine forests, and rest in the mesophytic forest at the foot of the falls.
Fall Creek Falls crashes from 256 feet, making it one of the highest falls between here and the Rockies. Take the Woodland Trail from the Nature Center for an easy walk out to the falls. Be sure to stop at the Overlook to peer over the stone walls and catch sight of the shady pool far below. A swinging wooden bridge will bounce beneath your feet as you cross Cane Creek Cascades. If you reach the pools at the base of the falls and find that you crave a greater challenge, this park boasts 34+ miles of trails for you to tackle.
Burgess Falls State Park is situated on the Falling Water River and is famous for its 4 waterfalls that pour from more than 250 feet high. While Window Cliffs’s hiking trails are part of the state park, the entrance is 8 miles from the entrance to the park. To head directly to the trailheads, please use the address above. This hike is a challenging, strenuous hike that is only available when weather permits. Hikers should allow up to three hours to complete this hike and be prepared to cross 18 creeks via cables and rocks only. Please be advised that changes in the watershed can make any one of the creek crossings impassable, so do check the link above to ensure it’s a safe day to hike.
Where will you go on your hiking adventures this season? Did we include your favorite Middle Tennessee hike on our list? Leave us a comment below; we love hearing from our community of readers. Wear your sunscreen and a hat, great hiking shoes, and have a delightful time traversing our region’s astounding natural landscapes.