I’ve lived in Nashville 12 years and I just found one of Nashville’s best hikes. Lived here more than 630 weeks and 2 weeks ago I find an amazing hike I’ve never heard of! While searching for local hiking I read many articles and all seemed to repeat the same spots. I finally stumbled upon the trails at the Harpeth River State Park. The park, located only 20 miles from downtown, is broken into 3 different sections along the Harpeth River. It is day use only and I’ve passed it multiple times while canoeing the Harpeth. Hikes at 2 of the 3 sections are well worth the drive (and effort)!
The first section, right off the interstate is the Hidden Lake area. The hidden lake is an old quarry that was part of a fancy resort in the 1920s and 1930s. There was a slide from the top to bottom, that would be one giant slide. At the entrance to the park, there are several posters that show pictures from the resort’s heyday. I tried to find more about the Hidden Lake resort but found nothing more than pictures that are at the trailhead. Up on the bluff above the lake, you can see evidence of the old dance floor. There is also an old tanker car half-buried on the ridge. Though the map does not show a connection between the hidden lake trail and the bluff trail, we ended up on both. The hidden lake trail connects to the south part of the ridge loop trail. There are also several small abandoned buildings along the trail. I would love to know more about these. This loop around the lake onto part of the ridge trail was 1.6 miles. We did not get a good picture of the actual lake. D’oh! We got so engrossed in the sights we kind of forgot.
The next section is 6.5 miles away and called the Gossett Tract. Several local canoe companies unload passengers here. Further back there is a hiking area that follows along the river. While there is a nice little grill and picnic table not far in, the trail is a walk in a field. It would be awesome in winter because there would be lots of sunshine. But in the summer it was rather meh. But we did see a snake! We’re so dorky, it got away while we were trying to find the camera. The camera was back in the car so the snake had lots of time to slither off.
Narrows of the Harpeth
2.5 miles from the Gossett Tract is the Narrows of the Harpeth. Wowsa! All the hikes here are short. There is a trail that leads between the canoe launch site to the canoe take out site. Nothing interesting there. The tunnel trail is rather easy at only .2 miles. It leads to a tunnel carved in 1819 into the limestone to help power an iron forge. It’s considered the first full-sized tunnel in the US.
The last trail is the bluff trail. This is the real treasure of the park. This trail is short at just .25 miles but it is EXTREMELY steep. While doable, make sure to take a couple of breaks on the way up. This area is called the Narrows of the Harpeth. Here the river loops back and you’re able to see the river on both sides of the bluff. The view here is spectacular! This alone is worth the hike. We tried to wait til closer to sunset but signs at the entrance say that the park closes at 7. We came back down at 7:30 and the gates were still open so apparently, the times are a bit flexible. I can’t wait to come back and view this as the leaves change in the fall.
If you’re ever in Nashville and looking for a unique hike, check out the trails at the Harpeth River State Park. Located about 20 miles from downtown Nashville, TN in Kingston Springs. With unique views and stories, these hikes are a great way to spend a day.
This is my current favorite hike in Nashville.
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