Trip Ideas - 13 min read

25 Best Nashville Hiking Trails (With Waterfalls & Pet-Friendly)

Town and Tourist

Town and Tourist, Updated October 3, 2022

Nashville owns a top spot on the best places to visit list in the U.S. It’s a cool town with live music, excellent eats, and fantastic nightlife. It also boasts some of the most beautiful natural scenery and hiking trails.

Yes, you can do it all in Nashville. From historical trails to descents into a gorge, where you can swim under a waterfall, hiking in Nashville offers a satisfying adventure for every hiking level.

State parks in the Nashville area are the best trail resources for hikes. These parks offer a massive assortment of trails. They feature beautiful waterways and distinct terrains, from woodsy paths to paved roads. They also have craggy and rocky trails to wet and mossy pathways. You won’t be disappointed by the stunning natural life and historical background this land offers.

This hiking guide will lead you to local favorites and must-do trails all year. Some tried-and-true local hikers have even spotted some of Nashville’s celebrities out and about on these trails.

Find out where you can take a waterfall swim, walk off-the-beaten-path amongst an abundance of native deciduous trees, and where you can get your sweat on. Take a gander below to see where you might end up next time you head outside.

1. Day Loop Trail

Credit: Shutterstock

Located in the Long Hunter State Park, which is just about 15 to 20 minutes from Downtown Nashville, Day Loop Trail is a relatively easy hike. Plan for about 1 hour and 20 minutes to hike the 4 miles.

Take in all of the beauty, including the rocky shores of Percy Priest Lake and a shaded oak-hickory forest canopy.

Hikers find this trail to be well-marked by signs with orange blazes. Day Loop Trail is also well-traveled by runners, dogs on leashes, and bird watchers.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 4-miles
Elevation: 269 ft

2. Volunteer Trail

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Find the Volunteer Trail from the Day Loop Trail. Look for trail signs with white blaze icons about a half-mile on the path. This 10.7-mile hike is considered intermediate, and hikers should plan 4 to 5 hours one-way.

Make plans if you aren’t camping overnight, as you’ll need to turn around to head out. This trail will give you the best photo ops of the rich beauty Percy Priest Lake offers. You’ll pass by other hikers, trail runners, leashed dogs, and overnight campers.

Difficulty: Intermediate
Distance: 10.7-miles
Elevation: 620 ft.

Related Read: Best Time To Visit Nashville

3. Harpeth Woods Trail, aka Blue Trail

Credit: Lisa Millman / AllTrails

Harpeth Woods Trail is a 2 ½-mile loop within Edwin Warner Park. The variety of terrain, including areas along a stream and the rocky and steep paths. It should be noted that they can be tough on the legs and stamina.

Spend an hour observing native plants, wildflowers, and giant Beech, Oak, and Cedar trees. Harpeth Woods is unique. Hikers will find the area’s original rock quarry along this trail. The quarry was once active in the 1930s and 1940s. Refrain from taking fossils from the area; it is prohibited.

Difficulty: Challenging
Distance: 2.5-miles
Elevation: 351 ft.

4. Radnor Lake Trail

Credit: Shutterstock

Lake Trail, a 2.7-mile loop along Radnor Lake, is the perfect trail to decompress from city life. It’s about a one-hour walk which will take you on a paved road or a woodsy and mulch-like path. The trail welcomes all-terrain wheelchairs and other ADA-accessible equipment.

Nature seekers celebrate the variety of native plant life and wildlife (frogs, lizards, turtles, deer, and even beavers). There are also nesting birds (eastern meadowlark, turkeys, and bobwhite quail). Dogs are not allowed on this path.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.7-miles
Elevation: 121 ft.

5. Warner Woods Trail aka White Trail

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Warner Woods or the White Trail will give you a challenging hike within Percy Warner Park. Spend 90-minutes trekking the 2.8-mile loop on a dirt or paved path.

Located within the woodsier area of the park, hikers will find good shade along the trail and steep inclines. The gem of this trail is when you arrive at Luke Lea Heights, which gives you treetop views of the park and downtown Nashville. Dogs off-leash also enjoy this trail.

Difficulty: Challenging
Distance: 2.8-miles
Elevation: 544 ft.

Related Read: 42 Things to Do in Nashville

6. Mossy Ridge Trail aka Red Trail

Credit: Michael Hicks / Flickr

If you are looking for a hard hike, Mossy Ridge Trail or Red Trail delivers. Spend 2 ½ hours on the 5.3-mile loop exploring the shaded forest and local birds.

The waterfall crossing is mossy and can be slippery. The uphill section of this trail boosts you to over 1,000 feet of elevation.

Difficulty: Challenging
Distance: 5.3-miles
Elevation: 948 ft.

7. Machine Falls Loop

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If you have the time to drive an hour from the city for a fantastic hike and a beautiful waterfall, Machine Falls Loop is worth the day trip. The roundtrip 1.6-mile hike may be short in distance but is big in its steep downhill. This will leads you into the waterfall gorge.

Take the wooden footbridge along the water, and be sure to dip your toes right in the cool water before making your way out of the gorge. Come prepared by wearing shoes with solid tread to avoid slippery steps.

Difficulty: Challenging
Distance: 1.6-miles
Elevation: 324 ft.

8. Greeter Falls Loop

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Greeter Falls Loop is a fun day trip and leads you to one of the best Tennessee waterfalls. The .8-mile descent down is rocky, somewhat slippery, and considered treacherous and challenging.

The falls are magnificent, and it’s famous for hikers to hang out underneath the waterfall or upon some of the rocks. The water is deep and ideal for swimming. Cliff jumping is illegal. The hike back up is steep and will take your breath away.

Difficulty: Challenging
Distance: 1.1-miles
Elevation: 262 ft.

9. The Majestic Allee Steps

Credit: Mayor John Cooper / Twitter

Not necessarily a traditional trail, the Allee Steps in Percy Warner Park is a place to run or walk the 179 steps. Known to TV fans of “Nashville,” these landmark steps, restored in 2020, are located at the Belle Meade entrance of the park.

The steps lead you on a climb up to the scenic overlook at Old Beech Trail. You can also take the paved 1.6-mile loop around the stairs showing you back to where you started. It’s famous for fitness enthusiasts to run these steps.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 1.6-miles
Elevation: 900 ft.

Related Read: 20 BEST Black-Owned Restaurants in Nashville, TN

10. The Natchez Trace Scenic Trail via Burns Branch

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The Natchez Trace Scenic Trail is a historic trail from Nashville, TN, to Tupelo, MS. It is hiked in sections since it runs 178.8-miles long.

This trail was the major trade and travel route for Native Americans and early American and European explorers in early America. Today, hikers in Nashville explore the loop via Burns Branch near Thompson’s Station.

Difficulty: Easy to challenging
Distance: 2.8-miles
Elevation: 246 ft.

11. Richland Creek Greenway

Credit: Shutterstock

For dog walkers, bikers, runners, and hikers who want to log those steps, Richland Creek Greenway is an excellent choice. The 5-mile paved loop around McCabe Park is part of Nashville’s greenways throughout the city.

Walk neighborhoods, shopping districts, and recreational areas and pass by the historical White Bridge Road trailhead. Here is where the Great Train Wreck of 1918 took place.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 5-miles
Elevation: 262 ft.

12. Bells Bend Loop Trail

Credit: Bells Bend Park / Facebook

Covering 808 acres, Bells Bend Park has several miles of hiking trails leading to Cumberland River. The namesake trail gives you an easy flat 2.3-mile road loop guiding you through the park.

The setting is green and sunny, so there isn’t much shade. Bring a hat, apply sunscreen, and hike early in the day, especially during the summer. Pups must be on a leash.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.3-miles
Elevation: 213 ft.

13. Burch Woods Trail

Credit: Blair Monroe / AllTrails

One of the Warner Park trails, Burch Woods, is a 3-mile loop featuring wildflowers, tall grasses, and wildlife. Start on the graveled path, cross under railroad tracks, and you’ll be on the trail after a short walk through the tunnel.

Burch Woods leads you into the forest of Oak, Hickory, Beech, and Maple trees. There are just two climbs on this trail.

When you arrive at the Short Spur Trail or Meadow View Spur, take a breath and inhale the beautiful view. Burch Woods Trail is exclusive to walking foot traffic; runners and dogs are not allowed.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3-miles
Elevation: n/a

14. Hidden Lake Double Loop Trail

Credit: Skye Marthaler / Flickr

At Harpeth River State Park and only 20 minutes from Nashville, Hidden Lake Trail is a 2-mile loop through a canopied forest. Hidden Lake Trail is one for the entire family.

Along the trail ridge, check out an old resort building from the 1930s, where you can explore the relics of a marble dance floor. The building burned sometime during the 1940s. Be sure to seek out the limestone bluffs and lush plant life.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.9-miles
Elevation: 160 ft.

15. Narrows of the Harpeth Trail

Credit: Anthony Jones / Flickr

The Narrows, in the heart of Harpeth River State Park, is a dazzler for hiking enthusiasts of all ages. The in and out 1-mile trail takes you upstream and downstream along the Harpeth River.

When you get to the top bluff, which is pure limestone, enjoy the view below of the Harpeth Valley. Since this is a short hike, take the opportunity to walk around the Narrows of the Harpeth. There are a few more trails to check out.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.1-mile
Elevation: 223 ft.

16. North Fork Laurel Woods Trail

Credit: Beaman Park / Facebook

North Fork Laurel Woods Trail in Beaman Park is another excellent trail option. This 6.1-mile hike is more complicated. It can take about 2 ½ hours to complete depending on your pace.

The heart of Beaman Park is located away from the nearby noisy highways, which gives visitors a quiet and peaceful experience. Keep eyes on the Beaman Park wildlife. Hikers have seen flying squirrels, bobcats, raccoons, and deer.

Difficulty: Challenging
Distance: 6.1-miles
Elevation: 597 ft.

17. The Trails at Fontanel

Credit: Fontanel / Facebook

A favorite place to walk dogs, The Trails at Fontanel, also referred to as Whites Creek Greenway at Fontanel, is a quick 15-minute drive from the city. The Trails is a 2.2-mile loop and is the perfect place to get you and your pup outdoors.

Expect a nice but muddy walk (especially after a rain) through a lush forest with streams snaking in and around. Dogs love The Trails for the bonus at the trail’s end – a swim in the creek.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 2.2-miles
Elevation: 206 ft.

18. Ganier Ridge Trail Loop

Credit: Adam Dye / Flickr

Set in Radnor Lake State Park, Ganier Ridge Trail gives your fitness a challenge with 200-foot climbs. Access this loop at Lake Trail, which will lead you to Ganier Ridge Trail.

As the highest ridge in the area, Ganier Ridge is a hearty climb. But, think of the views. Hikers have seen bald eagles, woodpeckers, owls, and other bird species. A popular place to walk, hike and run, Ganier Ridge Trail does not allow dogs.

Difficulty: Challenging
Distance: 1.65-miles
Elevation: 206 ft.

19. Henry Hollow Loop Trail

Credit: Beaman Park / Facebook

Tucked in Beaman Park, Henry Hollow Loop visitors hike a 2 ½-mile hilly trail and cross a shallow creek. You will need to take Sedge Hill Trail to connect with Henry Hollow Loop Trail. The first part of the trek on Henry Hollow will take you uphill through a forest of hardwood trees.

After conquering the climbs, you’ll find your way down to the stream. The creek is shallow enough to splash around. Henry Hollow Loop Trail is a lovely hike, with wildflowers growing during spring.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 2.5-miles
Elevation: 285 ft.

20. Stones River Greenway

Credit: Shutterstock

A beautiful paved trail that spans 10 miles, Stones River Greenway is a favorite trail recreation. Hugging the Cumberland River to the J. Percy Priest Reservoir, Stones River Greenway mostly runs parallel to Stones River.

You’ll also appreciate the green parks, bridges, a dam, meadows, and wetlands. Dog walkers can also let their pups off-leash in the designated dog parks, where there is one at the trail entrance.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: Up to 10 miles
Elevation: 219 ft.

21. Bryant Grove Trail

Credit: Michael Hicks / Flickr

The Bryant Grove Trail is much loved for a long yet easy hike. 4 miles in and 4 miles out of Long Hunter State Park. The path is graveled and easy to walk.

Plan on 2 1/2 hours or more to go the entire back and forth distance of this trail. Travel along the J. Percy Priest Lake, and take a break at the 4-mile mark at Couchville Lake.

This trail has easy-to-spot signage and mileage markers with rest benches. You’ll find restrooms and water available at the picnic area. Hikers, you’ll revel in the different viewpoints as you make your way back. This trail doesn’t welcome dogs.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 8.4-miles
Elevation: 216 ft.

Related Read: 25 Romantic Things To Do In Nashville, TN

22. Creech Hollow Trail

Credit: Shutterstock

Situated in Montgomery Bell State Park, Creech Hollow Trail is a 3 miles out-and-back trail, also known as the Orange Trail. Spend an hour meandering this trail which will lead you to Creech Hollow Lake.

When you are seeking to spend a little more time in the area, connect to other trails (Jim Bailey Nature Trail) along the way. This trail is beautiful any time during the year.

Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Distance: 2.9-miles
Elevation: 135 ft.

23. Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail

Credit: cmh2315fl / Flickr

You’ll find access to Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail just outside of Ashland City. This trail is 13.3-miles out and back. Of course, you decide on how much of it you want to spend hiking it. The entirety of the hike takes about 4 hours.

Hikers love coming here for the trail’s stillness, a little waterfall, and echoing bird songs. Although the Cumberland River Trail is generally well-maintained, concerns about hazardous tree roots have been reported by visitors.

Difficulty: Easy to challenging
Distance: 13.3 miles
Elevation: 190 ft.

24. Laurel Woods Trail

Credit: Beaman Park / Facebook

Beaman Park opened up Laurel Woods Trail in 2020, giving hiking fans access to the park’s less-traveled back woods. Laurel Woods Trail is a big loop clocking 12 miles.

Start at the Highland Trailhead, where you will walk the Henry Hollow Trail. Stay the course on the service road now named Laurel Woods Trail.

The Rim has steep inclines, a stream crossing, and rocky ridges, which makes this trail fun and challenging. When you reach any hilltop, pause to look at Beaman Park’s thick hickory forest.

Difficulty: Challenging
Distance: 12.78-miles
Elevation: 2,707 ft.

25. Big East Fork Trail

Credit: Natchez Trace Parkway

Big East Fork, located in Timberland Park of Franklin, TN, is a lovely conservation park to explore. The 2 ½-mile loop is clearly marked. The length of this loop is ideal for families who want a fully loaded nature adventure.

On this hike, no matter the season, you get a little bit of everything, including a woodsy forest, grassy meadow and pond, areas to picnic, wildlife such as deer and birds, and a sharp climb back up to the ridge.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 2.5-miles
Elevation: 242 ft.

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