Live music, hot chicken, and cowboy boots might be the first things that come to mind when you think about Nashville, but in our experience, it’s a fantastic city for people who love the outdoors. Nashville might be known to the world as Music City, but to us, it’s a city with easy access to sweeping forests, stunning rock formations, and some of the coolest and most staggering waterfall trails in the country. Hiking near Nashville is one of the best ways to explore the wild, breathtaking beauty that Tennessee has to offer. We created this guide to the best hikes near Nashville to help you plan your next amazing outdoor adventure.

Make sure that you’re prepared for the Nashville weather with the proper hiking clothes! Check out our complete guide for the best tips and gear for hiking in the fall.

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Photo Credit: avmeier (Flickr CC)

Easy Hiking Near Nashville

Radnor Lake

  • Distance from Nashville: 11 miles/20 minutes
  • Trail Length: 2.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 170 feet

Perhaps one of the most popular and beloved hikes near Nashville is the Radnor Lake Loop. This scenic, 2.4-mile hike around the perimeter of Radnor Lake offers beautiful waterfront views from shady, wooded trails. The flat trails along the lake are perfect for hikers of all levels, including children, first-timers, and dogs. In addition to lovely scenery, there are also a few very pretty wooden bridges that the trail runs through. For a short, low-key hike that’s close to home, Radnor Lake is a wonderful spot for hiking near Nashville.

Photo Credit: Hector A Parayuelos (Flickr CC)

Narrows Of The Harpeth

  • Distance from Nashville: 26 miles/30 minutes
  • Trail Length: 1.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 223 feet

One of the most stunningly beautiful short hikes near Nashville is the Narrows of the Harpeth trail. Located in its namesake state park, this easy trail is perfect for hikers of all levels (including kids!) and passes by incredible rock formations. As you walk through the woods, you’ll understand why locals find this trail so awe-inspiring – the landscape looks like it’s out of this world! At the end, you’ll get to see one of Tennessee’s most interesting natural landmarks – a waterfall that runs out of a wide hole in the rocks.

The Narrows of the Harpeth trail will help you rediscover the beauty and magic of T nature, in just a short, 1.1-mile hike. And, as a huge plus, it’s just 30 minutes from Nashville’s city center!

Ridge Top Trail

  • Distance from Nashville: 12 miles/25 minutes
  • Trail Length: 3.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 334 feet

Some sources say that this trail (or parts of it) are now closed. Please check the park website for the most up-to-date information.

Photo Credit: Joe Z (Flickr CC)

Burgess Falls Trail

  • Distance from Nashville: 80 miles/1 hour, 20 minutes (Burgess Falls State Park)
  • Trail Length: 1.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 134 feet

Another one of the best hikes near Nashville that is short but very sweet hike is the Burgess Falls Trail, located just under 1.5 hours from the city. Although it’s short and somewhat far from the city, you’ll get to see Burgess Falls, one of Tennessee’s most spectacular waterfalls. This 135-foot waterfall wraps around the corner of a cliff and is absolutely spectacular, especially when water levels are high or when it’s frozen in the winter. There are plenty of other trails in Burgess Falls State Park, so if you’re looking for a bit longer of a hike, try combining the Burgess Falls Trail with one of these other short trails.

Check out this awesome video of the magnificent Burgess Falls:

Twin Falls and Down River Trail

  • Distance from Nashville: 90 miles/1 hour, 45 minutes (Rock Island State Park)
  • Trail Length: 1.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 223 feet

You’ve probably noticed by now that there are some really gorgeous waterfall hikes near Nashville, and the Twin Falls and Down River Trail will bring you to yet another one! Located in Rock Island State Park, this trail will bring you along the river to two sets of ridiculously beautiful waterfalls, known as the Twin Falls. Along the trail, hikers will enjoy easy to moderate terrain as they make their way to the final waterfall spectacle. Pack a snack in your hiking daypack and nibble on it as you take in the magnificent cascades.

Want even more hiking? There’s a teeny tiny trail to the Blue Hole in Rock Island State Park that you can tack on to your day trip as well!

Volunteer Trail Day Loop

  • Distance from Nashville: 24 miles/30 minutes (Long Hunter State Park)
  • Trail Length: 3.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 269 feet

A popular trail system for hiking near Nashville is the Volunteer Trail in Long Hunter State Park. Just half an hour from the city center, this recreational area runs largely along the shore of Percy Priest Lake, which is one of the most beloved waterways in the Nashville area. There’s a longer version of the Volunteer Trail that many people hike overnight, but if you’re looking for something a little shorter, try the Day Loop. You’ll enjoy a fun walk in the woods and along the lake without having to stray far from the city.

Photo Credit: cambiodia (Flickr CC)

Moderate Hikes Near Nashville

Cummins Falls Trail

  • Distance from Nashville: 84 miles/1.5 hours (Cummins Falls State Park)
  • Trail Length: 3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 452 feet

If you’re looking for a hike that feels like a true backwoods adventure, head to the Cummins Falls trail. This gorgeous trail’s highlight is Cummins Falls, yet another spectacular waterfall, but the fun of the trail lies in the journey. Yep, the trail itself – marked as moderate by most sources – has plenty of fun terrain changes and a few slippery stream crossings to navigate, meaning you’ll definitely get more than your fair share of adventure here! Bring shoes you don’t mind getting wet (like Chacos) and trekking poles if you think you’ll need extra support.

Note: Due to weather conditions, this area is subject to seasonal closures. Check here for updates on closures.

Montgomery Bell Trail

  • Distance from Nashville: 38 miles/45 minutes
  • Trail Length: 10.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,049 feet

The Montgomery Bell Trail is one of those spots for hiking near Nashville that’s got a little bit of everything – history, gorgeous landscapes, varied terrain, and pretty views. A hike through this 10.4-mile trail is a wonderful way to spend a day. Along the way, you’ll pass by a historic log cabin and mining area, a few small waterfalls and streams, and a couple of the lakes on the park’s premises. There are also several stream crossings for a bit of added fun and challenge!

Photo Credit: Michael Hicks (Flickr CC)

Mossy Ridge Trail

  • Distance from Nashville: 0 miles
  • Trail Length: 4.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 882 feet

The Warner Parks are some of the city’s favorite green spaces, and the Mossy Ridge Trail is one of the best hikes in Nashville to explore them. This nearly 5-mile loop trail offers hikers a hilly, moderately difficult journey through the hills of Nashville and through some stunning, unique mossy areas of the forest. You’ll also find an old furnace and varying terrain for a fun and memorable hiking challenge within the city limits.

Snoopers Rock Trail

  • Distance from Nashville: 133 miles/2 hours, 15 minutes (Prentice Cooper State Forest)
  • Trail Length: 5.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,167 feet

One of the most excellent areas for hiking near Nashville is the Prentice Cooper State Forest, and if you’re looking for views, the Snoopers Rock Trail is a perfect starting point. This moderate, 5.9-mile trail runs through the forest, past jagged rocky cliffs, and ends at a rocky viewpoint that provides a spectacular panorama of the Tennessee River. If you do this hike on a clear day, you may see the river’s resemblance to the famed Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, with the pretty Elder Mountain in the background. We’d strongly recommend doing this trail in the fall, because it’s arguably one of the best places in the state to catch the fall foliage!

Note: This area is subject to closures due to hunting. Check here for updated information on closures.

Photo Credit: Tim Lumley (Flickr CC)

Fall Creek Falls Trail

  • Distance from Nashville: 129 miles/2 hours, 15 minutes (Fall Creek Falls State Park)
  • Trail Length: 2.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 561 feet

Waterfalls galore is the name of the game in Tennessee, and the Fall Creek Falls Viewpoint Trail offers yet another outstanding cascade to admire and photograph. This short, moderate trail in Fall Creek Falls State Park offers hikers a bird’s eye view glimpse at Fall Creek Falls, which is a year-round destination for adventurers in Tennessee. During times of high water flow, the falls are absolutely spectacular as they cascade off the side of a vertical cliff. In the winter, you can catch the are near the falls frozen in time (pictured above), a perfect winter view that’s well worth 2.4 miles in the cold!

Make sure you bring a good pair of water sandals so you can go swimming here in the summer! If you don’t have a sturdy pair, check out our complete guide to the best hiking sandals:

Photo Credit: Jeff Moore (Flickr CC)

Difficult Hikes Near Nashville

Fiery Gizzard Trail

  • Distance from Nashville: 95 miles/1.5 hours
  • Trail Length: 9.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,243 feet

One of the great things about hiking near Nashville is that you can actually find some strenuous trails, and the Fiery Gizzard Trail in South Cumberland State Park is quite possibly the queen of them all. This 9.6-mile trail tops many lists of beautiful hikes in Tennessee, and for good reason – there’s so much amazing scenery along the way. Don’t take this trail lightly, though: it requires some serious patience and stamina to traverse the nearly 10 miles of rocky terrain and stream crossings, including one major one where a former bridge was washed out. Those advanced adventurers willing to put in the work will be rewarded with some of Tennessee’s most beautiful landscapes and views, and a wonderful memory of one of the best hikes near Nashville.

Photo Credit: Tim Lumley (Flickr CC)

Virgin Falls

  • Distance from Nashville: 113 miles/2 hours
  • Trail Length: 8.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,381 feet

For thrill-seekers looking for even more challenging, difficult terrain to tackle, the Virgin Falls hike is another beloved strenuous hike in Tennessee to try. This trail requires rock scrambling with steep ascents and descents, and definitely isn’t for the faint of heart! In the summer, you’ll find pretty wildflowers lining the forested trails, and during the fall you’ll get to experience some fantastic foliage. But, as its name suggests, the highlight of the journey is arriving at Virgin Falls, a really beautiful waterfall that flows in front of a rocky cave area. Hikers who complete the trail say the views are well worth the effort, but you’ll have to decide that for yourself!

Photo Credit: Michael Hicks (Flickr CC)

Honey Creek Loop Trail

  • Distance from Nashville: 144 miles/2.5 hours (Big South Fork National Recreation Area)
  • Trail Length: 5.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,023 feet

If you’re used to hiking in places like Colorado, you’ll love the short, strenuous Honey Creek Loop Trail in Big South Fork National Recreation Area. This nearly 6-mile hike is like a natural obstacle course, with ropes, ladders, scrambling, and stream crossings as some of the many fun aspects of this trail. Experienced hikers love just how varied and challenging this trail is, and many return over and over again to relive the thrill! For all your efforts, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful bird’s eye views of Honey Creek, as well as access to pretty waterfalls, caves, and rock formations that make this hike such an adrenaline-inducing adventure.

Additional Resources for Hiking in Nashville

What to Pack

  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to wear a sweat-wicking shirt and breathable pants, like these Patagonia hiking shorts for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers for men and women, a down puffer jacket for men and women, and a Northface waterproof outer shell for men and women (a must for hiking in Seattle). And don’t forget a pair of the best women’s and men’s hiking socks!
  • Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we suggest throwing them in your car just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond Trail Ergo cork trekking poles, which are lightweight, easy to transport, and durable.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To limit disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask water bottles because they keep water cold for hours.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – Sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects. Our favorite kind of sunscreen is Sun Bum, as it is free of harsh chemicals and safe for marine life, including coral reefs.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend the Osprey Tempest 20 or the Talon 22 day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes. For more information, check out our best day packs for any terrain guide.

Wondering what exactly you should pack for your next hike? Visit our Complete Day Hiking Packing List for our full list and our top gear recommendations.

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