I always forget about Old Stone Fort when thinking of semi-nearby hikes to Nashville. I’m not quite sure why because it’s such a unique hike in that it has like a hundred (ok maybe not 100) little ‘cascading waterfalls’ along the Duck River (Trivia time: at 284 miles, the Duck River is the longest river located entirely within the state of Tennessee AND it’s the most biologically diverse river in North America. So, yeah, I think you should check it out…)
The route I usually do is a mostly easy hike with only a few steep parts (off the main loop on the Backbone and Moat trails) and you get rewarded with all these river falls and some indigenous peoples history. The fort was built somewhere between 1500 and 2000 years ago and was formed by mounds and the bluff walls. There’s also a museum on site so you can learn all about the land you are recreating on.
It’s only an hour from Nashville and worth checking out if you only have a half day or so free to hike. Or make a weekend of it: snag a campsite here, also visit nearby Short Springs State Natural Area and maybe even stop by the George Dickel Distillery, only a short drive away.
But, please, oh please, practice the Leave No Trace principles when you’re out. There’s lots of folks out there newer to hiking and we ALL need to pitch in to keep our public lands beautiful. Let’s set a good example and politely encourage people to treat public lands the right way.
📍 On the ancestral lands of Tsalaguwetiyi, Shawandasse Tula, S’atsoyaha, and Chikashsha
Distance from Nashville: Just over 1 hour
Trailhead: Visitor’s Center at Old Stone Fort
Trail: Enclosure, Forks of the River, Backbone & Moat Trails
Length of trail: 4.4 miles for this loop-ish hike
Link to trail map: Old Stone Fort Map
Camping: Old Stone Fort Campground (recently updated in 2020) — reservation required, 50 sites total
Overview: Easy hike with lots of water features plus some indigenous history; great for the whole fam