The hills of Tennessee add a touch of serenity to Nashville’s busy urban lifestyle. Let this guide of our favorite hikes inspire you to take long walks inside and short drives outside of the Music City. You’ll hear them soon enough — these hills sing. Click on each trail or park name for details, directions, and more.
Cedars of Lebanon State Park
Just 45 minutes from downtown, this 900-acre park features 8 miles of hiking trails. Surrounded by vast hardwood forests, Hidden Spring Trail is also home to limestone sinks and streams. It curves between them in a narrow path, closely touching abundant summer plant life. Cedar Forest Trail is a shorter, 2-mile loop that children and beginner hikers will especially enjoy. Eighteen known caves are available to explore, namely Jackson Cave, with a 30-foot tall entrance. Plentiful campsites and cabins with varying amenities are available, so stay a day, a week, or however long it takes to recharge.
Bledsoe Creek State Park
Just a half-hour drive east of Nashville, 6 miles of hiking trails loop around Bledsoe's perimeter. Climb to the top of the park's highest ridge on the aptly named High Ridge Trail. This 1.4-mile dirt trail features plenty of ascents and descents, making it feel like a jaunt through the backcountry. Keep the views interesting with The Shoreline Trail, a pleasant 2.1-mile path along Old Hickory Lake, a natural habitat to large herons and other wildlife. The paved Mayo Wix Memorial Trail is ADA accessible, along with Birdsong Nature Trail. Truly, there is something for everyone at Bledsoe.
Radnor Lake State Park
If you're fresh off the bus, Radnor Lake may be off your radar. But for most Nashville residents, this conservation area is well-known and well-loved. For good reason, too. Trails are cultivated with care, running through many different sections of the park with lush wildlife surrounding. Granier Ridge Trail is a pleasant but challenging 1.6-mile hike up the ridge and around the lake. Cycling, jogging, and walking the pups are permitted, but only on Otter Creek Road, a paved 1.1-mile stretch that is also ADA accessible. Other trails ranked as easy and moderate meander throughout.
Long Hunter State Park
This expansive park boasts over 25 miles of easy-to-moderate hiking trails. Day Loop Trail serpentines for 4 miles through forest hills and lakefront shores, eventually rising onto cliffs above the water. Volunteer Trail is a one-way, 5.5-mile hike. With similar terrain as Day Loop, both make great avenues for trail running and dog walking. Bryant Grove Trail has little elevation on its 8-mile, out-and-back passage. It still offers relaxing views of the water, though no pets are allowed on this trail. Sellars Farm has a short loop around its perimeter — a wonderful chance to experience the Native American burial mounds it surrounds. Lake Trail’s 2-mile paved road is perfect for wheelchairs and strollers. Camping is allowed along Priest Lake’s shoreline, and must be reserved with a permit at the park office.
Rock slabs create a convenient foot path across Center Hill Lake in Long Hunter State Park.
Totaling 1,688 acres, Beaman Park lies on the Highland Rim, just outside the Nashville Basin. Filled with incredibly diverse vegetation and wildlife, 3 trails extend its southwestern section. Ridgetop Trail is a difficult 4.2-mile trek, with many changes in elevation — an excellent place for a workout. Henry Hollow Loop meanders through springtime wildflowers and deep woods, providing 2 miles of creekside views. Sedge Hill Trail, a short 0.6-mile loop, will take you atop ridges and aside creek beds, with lovely blueberry bushes and evergreen sedges to accent its charm.
Montgomery Bell State Park
For a lovely, secluded hike, head west to Montgomery Bell. Montgomery Bell Trail is the longest in this system, clocking in at 10.4 miles. With multiple shelters scattered throughout, this trail is still technical despite its few elevation changes. The North Loop Trail near Burns features a lake, with moderate hiking difficulty on its 6.1-mile course. Creech Hollow Trail also runs beside a lake, but is shorter with fewer hills. Leashed dogs are allowed at this park, so stock up on water, snacks, and an attitude fit for adventure.
Garrison Creek Trail
Lots o’ history down this road. Located just off the Natchez Trace Parkway, this trail stretches 25 miles through wooded coves and creeks. Used for centuries by Native Americans, Natchez Trace became a route for European explorers and traders. Currently, it is a wonderful place to hike or run, with offshoot loops like Old Trace Garrison Creek Loop Trail, and overlooks of the Garrison Creek Valley — a perspective you can share with those who charted it centuries ago.
Shelby Bottoms Greenway
This Greenway connects Nashville’s neighborhoods, schools, shopping areas, downtown area, and other places where the community thrives. It runs along the Cumberland River, with a pleasant mix of sun and shade. East Loop Trail is a popular 8.1-mile paved loop, good for trail running, biking, and walking your leashed pet. If you travel off this main path onto the more primitive trails, you will experience a quieter, closer communion with nature, and can even forage wild blackberries. With plenty of places to stop and rest, Shelby Bottoms is a treasured asset to the city and to those who wish to mix in more dirt with their cement.
A nice contrast to the usual slabs of neon and pavement just 10 miles away, Warner Park sits in the Nashville Basin, featuring over 12 miles of trails. This well-known park is split into two sections: Percy Warner Park and Edwin Warner Park. The former offers one easy and two moderate trails that loop through wild woods, ridges, and open meadows. Mossy Ridge Trail is a strenuous loop that extends 4.5 miles, great for trail running. Edwin Warner Park, on the other hand, is better suited for leisurely strolls. Loops under 1 mile on easy terrain take you to wildlife tracking stations, a stone amphitheater, and observation platforms. Don't miss Harpeth Woods Trail, a moderate 2.5-mile loop that crosses a quarry and follows along the historic Natchez Trace. These trails fill up fast during peak hours, so get there early to avoid a crowd.
Warner Park is a close commune with nature — and history.
Comparable to (and less crowded than) the trails at Warner Park, Timberland Park offers 3.5 miles of well-groomed, wooded paths. Ranging from easy to difficult, most trails clock in between 0.5 and 1 mile, making them great for kids. Leashed pets are allowed, so bring them, too. Complete with picnic tables, benches, a visitor’s center, and an ADA accessible trail with an overlook, Timberland makes for a nice rest stop when traveling the Natchez Trace Parkway. Elevated areas give excellent views, as does the bridge crossing Hwy 96 — a nice architectural contrast. Only 15 minutes from downtown Franklin, Timberland Park is a secluded respite from mainstream hiking destinations.
Cheeks Bend Bluff View Trail
Unlike Radnor and Warner, Cheeks Bend is a bit of a secret. Not for the faint of heart, common wildlife include snakes, bats, thorns, poison ivy — making this 1.9-mile trail lightly trafficked — but with lovely views of the Duck River. If you can find it, there is a cave hidden off the main drag. This trail is good for all skill levels and great for leashed pets. Located in Columbia, it is a short drive for such a deep dive into nature.
Old Hickory Lake Nature Trail
Although rather short in length, we recommend this trail for its accessibility. Built by the US Army Corps of Engineers, this is a family-friendly, pet-friendly trail system nestled right inside the metro area. The main stretch is paved and covered in shade, providing a safe path for pets and kids (and strollers) to enjoy nature without committing hours to the cause. If you feel like wandering, three other, unpaved loops take you through open meadows and across a swamp bridge. Don’t forget your bug spray!
Edgar Evins State Park
This 6,000-acre park rests along the shores of Center Hill Lake, boasting over 11 miles of trails. The 5.5-mile Merritt Ridge Loop Trail is the longest and most difficult, taking you atop classic Tennessee ridges. Jack C. Clayborn Millennium Trail shares the same trailhead and views of the lake. Four other trails are available to trek, all on natural surfaces with varying lengths. Challenging hikes, gorgeous views of the water, and an abundance of wildlife (including bald eagles!) make Edgar Evins worth the easterly one-hour drive.
Rocky terrain keeps you on your toes at Edgar Evins.
Bells Bend Park
Just 30 minutes west of Midtown, Bells Bend formed in 2007. Still unknown to many locals, its 808 acres include 6 miles of hiking trails, 3 mountain biking trails, and a Nature Center. The trails are wide and sunny, so plan ahead during warmer months. The 2.3-mile Loop Trail cuts through old farm fields and opens up to the Cumberland River, providing exquisite panoramic views. Trails are easy and accessible. Gentle elevation changes make Bells Bend Park a great destination for families, pets, and those seeking a quieter path close to the city.
Harpeth River State Park
This park follows the river, so there are many access points — three in Nashville. One access point takes you to Hidden Lake Double Loop, a 1.9-mile, lightly trafficked trail that crosses a wildflower meadow and opens up to a small lake. Towards the lake, paths are steep and narrow with loose rocks around the shore. Other access points include Newsom’s Mill and Hwy 11 Canoe Access. By foot or by boat, there is plenty of land to explore at Harpeth River State Park.