Some of the best hiking trails can be found in Middle Tennessee, for beginner trail blazers thru the expert hiker. The following list will introduce you to ten favorites, all within 160 miles of Nashville.
Located along the Cumberland River near Carthage, Bearwaller Gap is a track for expert hikers with endurance. Because it’s an out-and-back instead of a loop, you can extend your hike to over 11 miles depending on when you decide to turn back. There’s plenty of elevation change to give you a good cardio workout.
This scaled-down park with rugged features make for some excellent hiking with its five miles of trails through almost 1,700 acres of protected natural area. It is also an educational nature center, because of its near Nashville location.
Big South Fork
The Big South Fork trail system offers lots of options ranging from easy day hikes to see the wildflowers blooming in the spring to hardcore overnight trips and backcountry camping. Bonus: Since the park is on the far western edge of the eastern time zone, summer sunsets come very late, so you’ll have plenty of daylight to set up your campsite.
Bledsoe Creek State Park
The trails at Bledsoe Creek are rather short, with the longest topping out at just a bit over two miles. They range in difficulty from easy paved paths that are ADA-accessible to more strenuous wild trails through the forest. Some offer views of Old Hickory Lake while others take you through areas which are very popular with birdwatchers.
Cedars of Lebanon State Park
Lovely eastern red cedar trees grow together in glades and forests through the park, Cedars of Lebanon offers 8 miles of hiking trails teeming with wildlife and exotic plants. There’s also a public pool and even a disc-golf course to test your skills after the hike.
Fiery Gizzard Trail
Rangers and volunteers have rerouted part of the trail, adding about a third of a mile to the length and increasing the difficulty of the terrain. Expect to get a fair measure of exercise; It’s a real workout.
Long Hunter State Park
Woods and water come together at this state park with more than 20 miles of trails ranging from easy strolls along the shores of J. Percy Priest Lake to longer, more challenging terrains for the adventurous set. A special map app also lets you track your location on your phone using GPS; no chance of getting lost, even if your cell phone signal dies out.
Mossy Ridge Trail in Percy Warner Park
Mossy Ridge Trail is a moderately strenuous four and one-half mile loop through the natural forests of the park that is quite popular with trail runners. Quite a trek, but more than worth the effort.
Radnor Lake is safe for cycling, jogging, or walking your dog while you take in the beauty of the lake. Or head into the hills for a hike around the perimeter of Radnor Lake on trails that offer panoramic views of the water and the surrounding wooded hills.
Savage Gulf is a beautiful recreation area crisscrossed with multiple trails of varying lengths and difficulty levels. The 10-mile Collins Gulf Trail is particularly rewarding. There is 100ft suspension bridge crossing over the Collins River, so this one is not for the faint hearted.
Walls of Jericho
Currently managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, this 8,900-acre area is open to hikers willing to take on the strenuous six-hour hike in and out of the gorge. Those who brave it are rewarded with views of a natural amphitheater and numerous waterfalls and creek crossings as they hike through the same woods that Davy Crockett once hunted in.
If hiking is your sport, Middle Tennessee has much to offer. For the beginner, some of these trails are a fun introduction to the sport, while more challenging trails are plentiful for those seeking more strenuous exercise. Although Middle Tennessee Trails are showcased here, many more can be found at: