Henry Hollow and Sedge Hill Trails :: Beaman Park, Nashville TN

When I first visited Beaman Park, I was so excited to find something like this so close to the city. This metro park is located in the Bells Bend area of the county, northwest of downtown.

There’s three different trailheads: Nature Center (entrance is off of Old Hickory Blvd), Creekside and Ridgetop (entrance off of Little Marrowbone Road) Trailheads. Creekside is the one nearest to the entrance and Ridgetop is up the hill. The Nature Center and Creekside have toilets and all three have parking lots.

There’s also three different trails of varying length and difficulties: Henry Hollow, Sedge Hill, and Laurel Woods. For this post, we’ll focus on the two shorter trails: Sedge Hill and  Henry Hollow Loop. You can access any trail from each of the trailheads, but typically, you’ll start at the Nature Center for Sedge Hill and Creekside for Henry Hollow. (Although all the trails connects though in some fashion.)

The Henry Hollow Loop (2 miles) follows Henry Creek then ascends onto the ridge. You get a good mix of walking creekside and along the ridge. There’s a little bit of elevation change climbing out of the hollow, but nothing too strenuous. You’ll have plenty of chances to sit along the creek or take a splash in warmer months. You’ll also see a few cascades from smaller streams leading into the creek, looking like mini waterfalls. I really love this stretch of trail; it feels so peaceful. 

The Sedge Hill Trail (.6 miles) connects the Nature Center to the Henry Hollow Loop. It’s short, but gets your heart pumping. It has a few ups and downs before it descends to join the Creekside trail. Plus, you’ll see one of my favorite trees in the world.

By connecting these two trails, you can make a just-over-three-mile balloon loop for a perfect little local hike. I love that you can be 20-25 minutes from downtown Nashville, but feel like you can grab a slice of wilderness.

Distance from Nashville: 20 min

Trailhead: Nature Center (Sedge Hill) or Creekside (Henry Hollow)

Trail: Sedge Hill and Henry Hollow

Link to trail map: Beaman Park Natural Area

Length of hike: .6 for Sedge Hill, 2 miles for Henry Hollow

Brief Overview: Streams, hills and woods close to home.

Mossy Ridge Trail :: Percy Warner Park

I was looking through my posts on here and realized that I’ve never done one on the Mossy Ridge Trail. In all the times I’ve hiked it, I just never did a full write-up on it. And this trail definitely deserves it.

Percy Warner Park and it’s sister park, Edwin Warner are probably the most popular parks in Davidson County. Although, Radnor might give it a run for its money, Warner Parks have extensive trails both paved and natural and dogs are allowed on any of the park’s trails.

Mossy Ridge, also the ‘red trail’, is my personal favorite in the park. The Mossy Ridge alone is a perfect 4.5 miles. But, you have to access it via connectors so it is typically 5-6 miles depending on where you start.

This trail packs over 1,000 feet of elevation gain to get that heart pumping. Much of the trail is a steady balance of undulating uphills and downhills. It’s definitely a nice little challenge, even if you are in good hiking shape. But, it’s also a great trail close to home that can help you build stamina for those longer hikes, more difficult hikes that you may be training for.

You don’t hike “to a destination” but the whole trail is filled with the best trees, hilly views, the tiniest cascading waterfall and, of course, moss! Every time I hike it, I seem to love it more.

You can access Mossy Ridge from almost any trailhead in the park. The Deep Well Trailhead, off of Hwy 100 is probably the most popular place to start. You can also access it via the Cane Connector Trail at Vaughn’s Gap, also off of Hwy 100. For the shortest distance, start at the Chickering Trailhead off of Chickering Road. Where you’ll meet up with the trail after about .15 miles. You can also access it via the Gaucho Road Trailhead where a trailhead connector meets up with the Cane Connector Trail.

No matter how you slice it, the Mossy Ridge is a must do in Nashville!

One of the many steep descents/ascents
I mean it’s a mossy ridge!!!

Distance from Nashville: 20 min

Trailhead: Choose your own adventure (read above). I usually start at Vaughn’s Gap. But there’s about 4 different places you can start: Deep Well, Vaughn’s Gap, Chickering Road and Gaucho Road

Trail: Mossy Ridge (Red Trail)

Link to trail map: Percy Warner Parks Map

Length of hike: 4.5-6 miles depending on trailhead

Brief overview: Steady and challenging elevation changes, mossy ridges, so many trees, a small cascading waterfall in a perfect hike close to home.

Bryant Grove Trail :: Long Hunter State Park

Usually when I’m heading to Long Hunter, I hike the Volunteer Trail. But, I was looking at a map of the state park and found a trail I hadn’t done: Bryant Grove. I’m not quite sure why I’d never seen this trail before, but I’m glad that I found it.

The Bryant Grove Trail runs from the Couchville Lake area to the Bryant Grove Area. (FYI: When I went, the Bryant Grove Area was closed from the road, so to be safe, start at Couchville Lake.) It’s almost completely flat and pretty much follows the shoreline of Percy Priest Lake. It’s an out-and-back trail so, it’ll be about 8 miles total if you do the whole thing.

This is a great trail to trail run because it’s flat and there’s relatively little roots and rocks on the trail. Parts of the trail are exposed and meander through limestone glades that feel unlike most Tennessee trails, which makes sense because limestone glades are pretty rare for this area.) It really does have a beach-y feel. This hike reminds me of one I did in a state park in the Florida panhandle. At the Bryant Grove area, there’s a few benches to take a break and look out onto the lake. Plus, there’s a great chance you’ll see some wildlife; I saw a few herons!

This trail looks and feels completely different than the Volunteer Trail and Day Loop, even though they are part of the same park and a mere miles from each other. So, if you want the full Long Hunter and Percy Priest hiking experience, don’t miss out on Bryant Grove!

The rare limestone glades
A heron!

Distance from Nashville: 30 minutes

Trailhead: Bryant Grove Trailhead at Couchville Lake

Trail: Bryant Grove Trail (Out-and-back)

Length of trail: 4.0 miles one way

Trail map: Long Hunter State Park Trail Map

Brief overview: Meander through both tree-lined trails and exposed beach-y limestone glades as you hug the coastline of Percy Priest Lake. A great trail to run or work on getting your hiking mileage up.

Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail :: Ashland City, TN

It’s always nice to find a new multi-use trail close to home. The Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail is 6.5 mile (one way) trail just outside Ashland City, TN, which is northwest of the city. This trail is part of the ‘rails to trails’ project which turns former rail lines into trails.

There are two trailheads – Marks Creek and Eagle Pass – and the trails ends at Cheatham Lock and Dam Campground. The path from Marks Creek to Eagle Pass is paved making it wheelchair accessible and from Eagle Pass to the campground is packed gravel (not suitable for road bikes). About a mile from Marks Creek Trailhead, there is a a spot called Turkey Junction Native Gardens that has picnics tables, restrooms (currently closed, I believe) and a little garden.

The trail follows the Cumberland River and features an impressive trestle bridge, almost constant views of the river, a few trail side trickling waterfalls, wildlife refuges and even a little hobbit hole! The entire trail is completely flat, so it’s great training to up your mileage. It’s also a relatively wide path, which is welcome in the times of social distancing.

There’s plenty to see along this path, which completely surprised me. (Don’t miss the extra special hobbit hole trail magic!) It’s a great place to visit close to Nashville that truly can be used by almost anyone. So grab your walking shoes, your bike, your dog, and your lunch and enjoy a day outside not too far from home.

The tiniest lil waterfall
A surprise along the trail!
Turkey Junction

Distance from Nashville: 35 minutes

Trailhead: Marks Creek or Eagle Pass

Trail: Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail

Trail map: Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail

Length of hike: 6.5 miles one way from Marks Pass to the campground

Brief overview: A flat, multi-use trail following the Cumberland River with an impressive trestle bridge, wildlife refuges, and multiple spots with picnic tables.

Narrows of the Harpeth :: Harpeth River State Park

Harpeth River State Park is unique because it is a linear park following the Harpeth River and it’s split up into 9 sections across 40 river miles. Some sections are just canoe/kayak launching points and others also include a few short hiking trails. Some of the more popular sections of the park are Narrows of the Harpeth and Hidden Lake.

The Narrows is a part of the Harpeth River that consists of a high bluff with two different parts of the river on both sides, forming a very narrow bluff in between the two sections. Above, you’ll see the  view from the high bluff.

There are three very short trails in the Narrows of the Harpeth section: the Bluff Trail, the Harris Street Bridge Trail and the Tunnel Trail.

  • Bluff Trail (.25 mi)  – Steep climb to the top of the bluff, views of the Harpeth and the rolling Tennessee hills.
  • Harris Street Bridge Trail (.35 mi) – Hugs the bluff on the one side (beautiful rock ledges) and the river on the other
  • Tunnel Trail (.2 mi) – Short and flat walk to the tunnel through the bluff.
    • Fun history fact: This tunnel used to power Pattinson Forge which was used to break pierces of iron into smaller pieces of iron – pretty exciting stuff for 1818.

Because they are all so short, I don’t see a reason why you wouldn’t just try ‘em all. You’ll end up doing an out and back of all three trails because they don’t form a loop. So, even though the trails only add up to .8 mi, you end up hiking at least double that amount. (I did about 2.5 miles because I parked near a canoe access and walked along the paved road for a bit.) Although these trails are short, there’s a few pretty nice things to see.

Bring your hammock or a packable chair and hang out on top of the bluff or near the tunnel if you need to get a quick relaxing reset from the city.

 Distance from Nashville: 40 min

Directions to trailhead: Either near Harris Street Bridge parking area off of Cedar Hill Road or near the canoe/kayak access point on Narrows of the Harpeth Road

Trail: Harris Street Bridge, Bluff Overlook, and Tunnel Trails

Link to trail map: Harpeth River State Park Trail Map

Length of hike: ~2 miles after all is said and done, allow about 30-45 minutes

Brief overview: River bluffs overlooks, tunnels through those bluffs and the Harpeth River. Short and close to home.

Cheeks Bend Bluff View Trail :: Duck River Complex State Natural Area

When I look for hiking trails, Columbia, TN is not a location at the top of my list. But, I was looking for something relatively close that I could complete in less than a couple hours.

The Cheeks Bend Bluff Trail borders a portion of the Duck River, which is the longest river located entirely in the state of Tennessee. Also, according to Wikipedia, it is the most biologically diverse river in North America. The Duck River also winds through Old Stone Fort and Henry Horton State Parks if you wanted to see other portions of this river.

It’s a short and easy hike – less than 2 miles. You’ll meander through cedar groves on your way to a couple bluff views of the Duck River about halfway through right before the small loop at one end. There’s also a small cave just off the trail near one of the bluff views. Put your back to the bluffs and walk straight back and down around to your right and you’ll see the opening to the small cave.

I would imagine this trial is hardly ever crowded, so it’s a nice place to get some alone time. There’s plenty of trees near the bluffs to set up a hammock. However, it’s pretty close to the interstate so it doesn’t necessarily feel like a completely secluded spot. 

It’s a pleasant little hike and would be a great option for families with kids.

Bonus tip: Stop by Andy’s Frozen Custard in Spring Hill for some of the best custard I’ve ever had.

Distance from Nashville: 1 hr

Trailhead: Cheeks Bend Bluff Trailhead, park parallel to the sign and look for the hiking icon blaze (straight ahead if the sign in on your left)

Trail: Cheeks Bend Bluff View Trail (route in red)

Link to trail map: Cheeks Bend Bluff View Trail

Length of hike: 1.8 miles roundtrip

Brief overview: Short, flat and peaceful trail through the cedars with a couple bluff views of the Duck River and a small cave. Great hike for all ages.

CREMA Instant Coffee and a Hike – Volunteer Day Loop :: Long Hunter State Park

Even though it’s less than 30 minutes from Nashville, Long Hunter State Park seems to stay relatively under the radar, taking a backseat to Radnor Lake and Percy/Edwin Warner Parks. 

Long Hunter State Park sits on the east side of Percy Priest Lake and has a handful of trails scattered through its four distinct sections – Bryant Grove, Couchville Lake, Bakers Grove, and Jones Mill.

The Volunteer Day Loop is in the Baker’s Grove section in the northern part of the park. It’s a four-mile trail that hugs Percy Priest Lake bluffs for half of the hike while the other half meanders through cedar groves. I think it’s as close to a perfect hike as you are going to get less than 30 minutes from Nashville. It’s a well-marked trail and a relatively flat and easy hike with a few spots along the shore that are perfect for setting up a hammock and making a cup of coffee.

Coffee has been a daily ritual for me since I was a teenager, whether at home or outdoors. Ten years of my life were spent working in coffee, so I am always searching for different ways or methods to bring great coffee and hiking together.

For me, making a cup of coffee in the outdoors usually requires a hand grinder, a brewing device like an Aeropress, filters, campstove, fuel, and water. (Whew!) All of this coffee gear adds weight and takes up space, but it was well worth it so that I could make a halfway decent cup of coffee. 

Now there’s a better way: actually good instant coffee! CREMA Coffee Roasters has partnered with Swift Cup Coffee to make instant coffee that, well, doesn’t taste like instant coffee. No more are the days of cramming multiple items into my pack, just to be able to drink good coffee in the outdoors. I’m sold.

I took some of the CREMA staff on this hike of the Volunteer Trail and we made fantastic trailside coffee with just a camp stove and water. Each little packet of instant coffee weighs practically nothing and you can bring exactly the amount that you need. (Bonus: The packaging is compostable. But, please always practice ‘leave no trace’ and pack everything out.) Instead of juggling multiple items, we just boiled water on a camp stove and mixed in the instant coffee. Not only does the CREMA instant coffee save weight and space in your pack, it also saves time. You’ll have that cup of coffee as fast as you can boil water, which is especially important on those chilly mornings after a not-so-great night’s rest in a tent.

Having an easy and convenient way to make coffee while outdoors is a game changer. I’ll be bringing my CREMA instant coffee along on many more hiking and camping adventures.

Ready to try it on your next outdoor excursion? Get it here or stop by either of the CREMA locations in person (15 Hermitage Ave and 226 Duke St).

Want to win a couple packs of CREMA instant coffee? Before Thursday, November 14, follow @cremacrema and @shehikestn on Instagram and tag a friend in CREMA’s instagram post!

Distance from Nashville: 30 min

Directions to trailhead: Baker’s Grove Trailhead of Long Hunter State Park off of Hobson Pike

Trail: Volunteer Day Loop (route in orange)

Link to trail map: Long Hunter State Park Trail Map

Length of trail: 4 miles, allow 1.5 hours

Brief Overview: A pleasant, easy day hike close to the city with lake views, cedar groves and a few quiet spots for relaxing in a hammock or making CREMA instant coffee.

Note: The full Volunteer Trail is 5.5 miles one way and ends in a backcountry campsite. You need a reservation to camp and can reserve a campsite here. So if you only want the 4-mile loop, follow signs for the Day Loop Trail!

Warner Woods Trail :: Percy Warner Park

Chances are that if you live in or around Nashville, you have heard of Percy Warner Park (and its sister park – Edwin Warner). But, let’s just have a quick refresher, shall we?

If you’ve ever googled this park, chances are you’ve seen the famous “stairs”. (Which, may I add, is one of the trailheads that accesses the Warner Woods Trail.) On the southwest side of Nashville near Belle Meade, the Warner parks feature both paved, multi-use trails and traditional hiking paths. You can hike as little as 150 yards or connect trails of both parks together and create an entire day’s worth of hiking.

The Warner Woods Trail is a perfect introduction to the parks. It’s only 2.5 miles long, but it’s got enough hills to get your heart pumpin’.

It also features those stairs I mentioned plus the Luke Lea Heights overlook which is the highest point in the surrounding areas at 922 feet. Hiking to this overlook from Warner Woods adds about a half mile, but it’s such a small price to pay for a great view (for Nashville!).

Warner Woods is a great intro to the Warner parks trail system because you get to see some of the highlights of the parks in a moderate 3-miler.

Luke Lea Heights Overlook

Heavily-wooded trail

Heavily-wooded trail

The stairs (from the “back”)

Pup lovin’ life

Distance from Nashville: 20 min

Trailhead: Belle Meade or Deep Well Trailhead and Parking

Trail: Warner Woods Loop (see route in blue below – I started at the Deep Well trailhead because it’s usually a little less crowded and added in the Luke Lea Heights overlook.)

Link to trail map: Percy Warner Park Trail Map – Warner Woods Trail is marked in white

Length of hike: about 3 miles (if you add in the overlook)

Overview: Moderately hilly and heavily wooded trail easily accessible from both main trailheads with a highly recommended option for an overlook of the city

Loblolly + Twin Lakes Trails :: Bowie Nature Park

Finding a new trail within an hour of Nashville has become a difficult task. But, here’s one in Fairview, TN that’s great for an easy afternoon stroll. The trails are wide and well-marked – great for kids/families – and you pass by five (yes, five!) small lakes. Yes, some of them are barely a pond, but the two largest bodies of water – Van and Anna – are a great place to stop, sit and have a snack.

There are a handful of trails, but the two I connected seemed like the most scenic. There is also a perimeter trail that goes around the entire park if you are looking for a little more distance.

This little park is a nice and easy morning or afternoon getaway from Nashville for all ages and difficulty levels.

Lake Van

Wide, well-kept trails

Lake Anna

Puppy on a bridge

Distance from Nashville: 40 min

Trailhead: Shelter #1 near Lake Van in Bowie Nature Park

Trail: Loblolly Loop and Twin Lakes Loop (see below in green)

Link to trail map: Bowie Nature Park Trails

Length of hike: Just over 2 miles, allow 1 hour

Overview: Nice and easy trail alongside a handful of lakes close to Nashville

Marcella Vivrette Smith Park :: Brentwood, TN

It’s been hot.  It’s been real hot. I haven’t exactly felt inspired to get outside for fear of heat stroke 2 miles in.

But, I was getting (summer) cabin fever, so I found a park close by that I hadn’t been to yet. Something in the middle of Brentwood, TN. Weird.


Marcella Vivrette Smith Park kind of reminds me of Radnor Lake without the lake. There’s a few different trails and some varied terrain and even some hill climbs. Basically, way more than I expected from this ‘City of Brentwood park’.

There’s some woods walkin’, some field walkin’, and there’s picnic tables scattered throughout the park along the trails.

IMG_0247 IMG_0241IMG_0242

The signs are slightly confusing when 2 trails share segments. They only label it as one when you are on the trails. Grab the free trail map at the trailhead just to make sure. It’s really hard to get lost because there’s really not that much to get lost on, but I actually (embarrassingly) got turned around.

Make your way down here if you need an afternoon away and don’t want to fight the crowds of Radnor Lake.

Distance from Nashville: 25 min

Getting to the trailhead: Off of Wilson Pike in Brentwood

Trail: I did the blue and red trails, but there are a few others. (See below)

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 5.24.51 PM

Link to trail map: Marcella Vivrette Smith Park Trail Map

Length of trail: I did about 3.5 miles, but there are 7 total miles of trails

Overview: Wander through forests and fields and climb a hill on this close-by escape to nature.