If you’re a hiker and a music fan who is visiting “Music City”, a.k.a. Nashville, Tennessee, you might be surprised about how many memorable hikes you can take just near Nashville alone. Seriously, Nashville is a great place for hiking.  

It comes complete with beautiful natural scenery and nigh-year-round pleasant weather. There are many hiking trails in the Nashville area that are reportedly perfect for hiking enthusiasts of all skill levels. So lace up your hiking boots and prepare to enjoy exercise and outdoor adventures in Nashville, Tennessee, USA! Here then, thanks to our staff and a few Tennessee locals, are the 12 best hikes near Nashville. 

12 Best Hikes Near Nashville

1. The Radnor Lake Trail Hike

Radnor Lake State Park is said to be a “local favorite.” It’s a free and easy trail that’s only 2.4 miles long and roughly 20 minutes from the city. The trail is also comparatively flat which makes it a good choice for folks who like to bring their dogs with them and families traveling with their kids.

Keep a lookout for lots of local wildlife too! Remember though, this trail’s popularity can translate to difficult parking. The best thing to do is get there a bit early or wait for the morning hikers to start leaving to get a parking place. As always, when day hiking, be sure to pack your sunscreen! Even a short hike can result in a sunburn.

2. The Twin Falls and Downstream Trail Hike

Rugged Rock Island State Park is located an hour and 45 minutes from Nashville and offers travelers a free, moderately easy hike with beautiful twin waterfalls and a distance of less than two miles. The Downstream Trail takes you over easy terrain to twin waterfalls. Twin Falls is undoubtedly the park’s biggest draw and yet there is more to experience than just the trails. This park is definitely one of the best places to see in the entire state. Enjoy a brief hike to the falls when you arrive in the morning and then follow it up with an afternoon of fishing, kayaking, or swimming.

3. The Burgess Falls Hike

Burgess Falls State Park is situated approximately 1.5 hours from Nashville. The free hike within this park is worth the time and effort too because, unlike the other hikes, this is the only one that offers hikers a view of four stunning waterfalls. The River Trail will take you to four individual waterfalls.

Veteran visitors to Tennessee say that each one is more memorable than the previous one. The final fantastic falls drop down more than 135 feet. If you plan on visiting on a weekend or in the summer be aware that this place is quite popular then so arrive early if you would like to have the falls all to yourself.

4. The Narrows of the Harpeth Hike

Harpeth River State Park is located about half an hour from Nashville. It offers visitors a free, easy, one-mile hike that not only features a historic tunnel waterfall but combines a striking natural landscape with local history. Here you follow the Narrows Trail alongside the rushing Harpeth River.

The plunging waterfall coming out of a man-made tunnel is the trail’s major attraction. This tunnel was constructed in 1819 to utilize the power of the water to run a nearby ironworks operation. Although the iron forge has been gone for many years, the pool and waterfall born of this tunnel remain a popular place. This part of the Harpeth is also a great place for kayaking and canoeing. You might just want to stay here for the whole day.

5. The Shelby Bottoms Greenway Hike

The Shelby Bottoms Greenway hike is an easy, free, albeit longer one with a length of over eight miles. Nevertheless, this paved pathway in one of the city’s best neighborhoods, East Nashville, makes it a good one for hikers of varied abilities. The adventure begins at the popular Shelby Bottoms Nature Center and follows the mighty Cumberland River. (Stop in at the Nature Center for a helpful list of kid-friendly local activities too!)

It includes a good nature play area for children and a significantly shady spot that is home to a variety of local wildlife. In fact, if you wander onto a side trail or two you are sure to spot a few four-legged residents. Spend time with Mother Nature without actually leaving the city.

6. The Cummins Falls Hike

This hike in Cummins Falls Park in Cookeville about one and a half hours out of Nashville is just three miles. Nevertheless, it is rated as difficult and you will need to purchase a Gorge Access Permit for $6.00. Here you will hike The Downstream Trail through nigh-tantalizing terrain to the beautiful base of a waterfall.

Keep in mind, the topography changes more than once here. You will need to traverse big boulders, rough riverbeds, and other assorted obstacles. Essentially, this is no hike for children and your hiking boots will get wet. After your hike, go for a dip in the pools at the waterfalls’ base. Park staff strongly suggest wearing a lifejacket.

7. The Mossy Ridge Trail Hike

Percy Warner Park offers visitors a free scenic hike at the Mossy Ridge Trail. It is rated as moderately challenging due largely to the multiple changes in terrain. It is less than five miles and provides hikers with memorable views of hills and hardwood forests in Nashville.

This pretty park offers travelers other activities too like horseback riding and golfing. It’s a notably nice place to take a break from the hubbub of the city and, better yet to dog owners, dogs are allowed here so you can explore with your four-legged friends.

8. The Volunteer Trail Day Loop Hike

If you need an athletic break from Nashville’s hustle and bustle, take this free day hike around the Percy Priest Lake shoreline at Long Hunter State Park. This free hike is under half an hour’s drive from Nashville and rated easy to moderate and is less than four miles. You will see quiet coves, rough bluffs, and hardwood trees too. Be sure that you stick to the well-marked trail. If you ignore the numerous signs you will end up lost or at the local overnight campsite and have to hike almost six miles back to your vehicle.

9. The Fiery Gizzard Trail Hike

This adventurous free day hike in South Cumberland State Park is just under 10 miles and is considered to be difficult. The park is roughly a 90-minute drive out of the city. To complete this trek you need to hike the Fiery Gizzard Trail to Raven Loop.

Interestingly, Backpacker magazine deemed this hike to be “one of the best 25 hikes” in the country. The trail runs along a little creek and the scenery is beautiful. Again though, it is generally only for experienced hikers.  

Portions of this trail are said by some to be “a natural obstacle course” and crawling over big boulders is par for the course. Be patient. Stick with it. In the end, it is worth the trouble.

10. The Foster Falls Climber’s Loop Hike

If you’re looking for a free hike near Nashville, that is not quite as difficult as the previously mentioned Fiery Gizzard Trail, South Cumberland State Park is also the home of the near-famous Foster Falls Climber’s Loop. It is a shorter, less difficult, two-mile hiking trail that is only rated as moderately difficult but arguably equally beautiful. The trailhead is located at the viewing platform that overlooks the famous falls.

From there you hike down to the falls’ base. There you will discover a pretty plunge pool that also serves as a super swimming hole on hot, sunny days. Even though this hike is officially rated as “moderately difficult”, you can manage it with small kids if you’re capable of helping them over some of the more challenging spots.

11. The Fall Creek Falls Trail Hike

Last but not necessarily least, this final free hike is offered in the Fall Creek Falls State Park a good two hours drive out of Nashville. It is rated a moderate hike that takes you to the highest free-fall waterfall east of the mighty Mississippi River.

This hike, and other offered activities and attractions, help to make this park one of the state’s “most visited.” Perhaps the top attraction here is the park’s incredible namesake falls. If you need more of a challenge, you will also find other hiking trails including one popular trail to Cane Creek Falls.

You can even camp here and hike to both falls. Whether you choose to make it a day trip or stay overnight, it’s an exceptional place for not only hikers but all outdoor enthusiasts.  

12. The Beaman Park Nature Center Hike


The well-known Beaman Park Nature Center is nestled in northwest Nashville. It’s free to visit and less than 15 miles from the downtown area. Here you’ll find a number of hiking trails from easy to moderately difficult.

The total length of these trails is reported to be over 12 miles and you could hike them all within a day if you are up for it. However, if you would rather focus on the best trail there, hike the Cooks River Cycleway. It’s rated highly by those in the know and is a moderately challenging route as it has an elevation gain of 456 feet. Give yourself a good four hours to complete it.  

FAQs About Hiking In And Around Nashville, Tennessee

Are there any really big mountains to hike and climb in Nashville?

As you may already suspect, Nashville is not exactly known for its majestic mountains. The closest mountains to the city would be the popular Smoky Mountains. Nevertheless, the city does include some hills and lovely landscapes that have memorable elevation changes that are great for hiking.

What are the closest mountains to Nashville, Tennessee?

As previously noted, the closest mountains to Nashville, Tennessee are actually the Great Smoky Mountains. They are about 242 miles away from the city. Various online sources can confirm that if you drive straight from Nashville to the mountains in normal traffic conditions without speeding, it will probably take you almost four and a half hours to get there.

Are there any official US National Parks to hike in the area?

Yes. As a matter of fact, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park itself is less than 242 miles from Nashville. Oddly, some online sources report you can reach the park itself in under four hours’ drive.

Perhaps they know a good time to beat the traffic. After all, this national park in Tennessee is the most visited one in the nation. The park spans two states, Tennessee and North Carolina, and includes 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail and an additional 850 miles of noteworthy backcountry trails.  

On a more personal note, your rovin’ writer and his parents once hiked a good 50-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail with a small group of scouts. The terrain is not overly taxing for experienced hikers. Covering the distance in a specific amount of time, however, is a challenge regardless of your level of expertise especially when you’re camping outdoors. 

As previously reported, you are hiking in the Fall Creek Falls State Park when you complete the favored Fall Creek Falls Trail Hike. The park is roughly 119 miles from the city and you will need almost two hours to drive there. If you want to do more hiking there, camp outdoors there or rent a cabin and try your hand (or foot?) at hiking the remainder of the 50+ miles of hiking trails there.

Is it true that you can hike part of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail around Nashville? 

In Tennessee, you can hike to several places featured on the well-known 15-state-spanning U.S. Civil Rights Trail. You can find the educational National Museum of African American Music and the Civil Rights Room in Nashville at the Nashville Public Library. 


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