Outdoor adventures in Nashville can be as peaceful or active as you want. From boat trips on Percy Priest Lake to hair-raising zipline rides through the forest, the city is a gift for nature lovers. Its center area has several urban parks for those who want some fresh air, while numerous state parks are easily reachable within an hour.

    Whether your idea of outdoor fun includes hiking, kayaking, or camping, Music City has plenty of options for you. Go for a scenic drive, ride horses, and lounge by the river all during the same day. With so many outdoor activities within minutes of downtown Nashville, the hardest decision will be where to go first.


    The Warner Parks

    Nashville’s largest municipal park

    The Warner Parks, incorporating both Edwin and Percy Warner Parks, are Tennessee’s 2nd largest urban park. Together, the 2 parks occupy more than 3,000 acres of woodlands, and nearly a million people visit each year to bask in its splendor. At only 9 miles from downtown Nashville, it’s an easy nature escape for residents throughout the year.

    While there are driveable roads in The Warner Parks, you’ll discover more of its picturesque landscapes by hiking or mountain biking. Hikers who reach the Luke Lea Heights Scenic Overlook can witness breathtaking views of Nashville from the hilltop. The park also boasts numerous equestrian trails, athletic facilities, and a leash-free dog park where your pooch can run around.

    Location: 50 Vaughn Rd, Nashville, TN 37221, USA

    Open: Daily from sunrise to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 615-370-8051


    Natchez Trace Parkway

    Cycle or drive this historic path to admire radiant foliage

    The Natchez Trace Parkway spans 444 miles through Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi to follow the footsteps of Native Americans and European settlers. More than just a roadway, Natchez Trace serves as a gateway for an abundance of outdoor activities such as biking, horseback riding, and camping. The winding road courses through colorful landscapes and passes many historical sites along the ancient forest trail that transformed America.

    Nashville is the northern end of the Natchez Trace Parkway, and a brief drive or bike ride will treat you to some incredible scenery. Start the Natchez Trace Parkway by turning off Hwy 100 near the Pasquo community and enjoy the beautiful sights until you’re ready to turn around.


    Cedars of Lebanon State Park

    Spot an abundance of wildlife while horseback riding

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    The Cedars of Lebanon State Park is in the Wilson County wilderness around 35 miles east of Nashville. The park is noted for its eastern red cedar trees that resemble the forests that once flourished on Mount Lebanon. With nearly 120 campgrounds in the park, Cedars of Lebanon is one of your best options to sleep beneath the stars. Campgrounds have picnic tables, broils, and electric hook-ups to cook your own food.

    Hikers have nearly a dozen miles of nature trails to explore, and several paths provide glimpses of wildlife. One of the trails is reserved for horseback riders, and it's possible to find deer, squirrels, turkeys, and even foxes during your ride.

    Location: 328 Cedar Forest Rd, Lebanon, TN 37090, USA

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 4.30 pm

    Phone: +1 615-443-2769


    photo by Brian Stansberry (CC BY 3.0) modified


    Cumberland Park

    Relax on the riverfront with glorious views of the Nashville skyline

    Cumberland Park is a riverfront playground for visitors of all ages. It’s situated on the banks of the Cumberland River between the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge and the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge. Crowds gather at the amphitheater for public events, children burn off energy on playgrounds, and nature enthusiasts stroll along the Explorer Trail to watch butterflies. Sunbathers lounge on grassy lawns with a stellar view of Nashville’s skyscrapers and arched bridges. 

    The Spraygrounds open during Nashville’s balmy summer, and kids love splashing around the water features to cool off. Summer nights host the fun-filled Jazz on the Cumberland, with locals bringing lawn chairs to find a seat to listen to renowned musicians.

    Location: 592 S 1st St, Nashville, TN 37213, USA

    Open: Daily from sunrise to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 615-862-8508


    Long Hunter State Park

    Take your boat on the lake and discover a Native American mound

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    The Long Hunter State Park sits on the serene waters of Percy Priest Lake and offers a multitude of recreational activities on the water. Around a 35-minute drive from Nashville, the state park has 4 distinct neighborhoods named Bryant Grove, Baker’s Grove, Couchville, and Sellars Farm.

    Bryant Grove Trail and Couchville Lake Trail give hikers lakeside views and lots of wildlife sightings. Some creatures you’ll find include deer, birds, and snakes, but be mindful of check marks. Two boat ramps give you access to the lake for an exciting day of fishing, boating, or kayaking. The Sellars Farm State Archeological Neighborhood draws history buffs by showing rare glimpses of an authentic Native American mound from centuries ago.

    Location: 2910 Hobson Pike, Hermitage, TN 37076, USA

    Open: Daily from 7 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +1 615-885-2422


    photo by David Antis (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Radnor Lake State Park

    Snap photos of wildlife and join ranger-led programs

    The Radnor Lake State Park lets nature enthusiasts escape the urban noise without leaving the city limits. Just a 20-minute drive south of downtown Nashville, the state park attracts hikers, cyclists, and wildlife photographers. Despite its urban setting, visitors will find otters, chipmunks, ducks, owls, herons, turtles, frogs, turkeys, and lots of deer frolicking in the open.

    The park has nearly 8 miles of trails that wrap around Radnor Lake, and the Lake Trail even accommodates physically-disabled visitors. Otter Creek Road is the only path available if you plan to cycle or jog inside the park. Rangers coordinate several educational programs such as snake lessons, astronomy hikes, and wildflower walks.

    Location: 1160 Otter Creek Rd, Nashville, TN 37220, USA

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +1 615-373-3467


    photo by Sharon Mollerus (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Harpeth River State Park

    Class I rapids for beginning kayakers

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    The Harpeth River State Park gives you access to 40 miles of the Harpeth River flowing just south of Nashville. The Class I-rated river provides a peaceful setting that invites paddlers on their rafting adventure. It's wise to get an early start to your kayaking excursion since river access points close by sunset, and there are no campgrounds inside the park. 

    Narrows of the Harpeth is a popular base for park visitors due to its river entry point, picnic neighborhoods, nearby hiking trails, and scenic views of the Harpeth Valley. If you cut the river journey short, tackle the hike toward Hidden Lake to find wildlife and blooming wildflowers.

    Location: 1254 Narrows of the Harpeth Rd, Kingston Springs, TN 37082, USA

    Open: April–October: daily from 7 am to 7 pm. November–March: daily from 8 am to 4.30 pm

    Phone: +1 615-952-2099


    photo by Mark Spangler (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Adventureworks Zipline Forest

    Ride through the forest at incredible speeds

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    Adventureworks Zipline Forest is an exhilarating teambuilding program that sends you racing through the woods. The facility is only a 15-minute drive north of Nashville, and the zipline course meanders through old-growth forest. Personable guides show you the ropes to accommodate everyone in your party regardless of skill level.

    After you master the basics, the ziplines gain speed and give you sensational views as you fly through the forest. In total, the zipline course contains 8 lines, and getting to each of them requires a beautiful hike through nature. The feeling of ziplining at nearly 40 miles per hour is a rush of adrenaline and provides an intense workout at the same time.

    Location: 4129 Whites Creek Pike, Whites Creek, TN 37189, USA

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm, Sunday from noon to 4 pm

    Phone: + 1 615-297-2250


    The Adventure Park at Nashville

    Test your climbing and zip-lining skills at this action-packed park

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    The Adventure Park at Nashville helps you reconnect with nature while keeping you physically active. Just 10 miles from downtown Nashville, this aerial adventure park challenges all ages with ziplines, bridges, and other rope courses. Every activity keeps your body moving to test your strength and stamina. The hardworking staff briefs you before attempting the obstacles to ensure you’re on the right course.

    Whether you visit with friends or the kids, the facility’s 12 treetop trails have something for everyone. Each member of your party can move at their own pace without feeling left behind. For a unique visit, attend Glow in the Park to move through illuminated courses and ziplines with music playing in the background.

    Location: 801 C, Percy Warner Blvd, Nashville, TN 37205, USA

    Open: July–September: Thursday from 10 am to 5 pm, Friday from 10 am to 9 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 10 pm, Sunday from noon to 7 pm. September–November: Thursday–Friday from noon to 6 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm, Sunday from noon to 6 pm

    Phone: +1 615-610-9500


    Percy Priest Lake

    A lakeside getaway on Nashville’s doorstep

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    Percy Priest Lake is a 42-mile-long manmade reservoir that hosts an abundance of recreational activities. Fishing is a local pastime, and some of the species to catch include catfish, trout, sunfish, and a variety of bass. There are several marinas scattered around the lake that let you bring canoes, kayaks, sailboats, and powerboats. It’s only a 15-minute drive from downtown Nashville.

    Wildlife is everywhere around the lake, and lots of campgrounds are available to spend a weekend outside the city. Sail to Hamilton Creek Park and pretend you’re at a beachfront location by lounging on its sandy shores. From hiking and cycling to jet-skiing, Percy Priest Lake has something for every nature lover.

    Daniel Grenier | Contributing Writer

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