Planning a trip to the Country Music Capital of the World? Nashville may be the perfect destination for your bachelorette party or music festival. However, Music City is also a great spot for recreation and outdoor adventure. In fact, Nashville and the surrounding areas have thousands of miles of the best hiking trails in the country. Here are 27 of the best waterfalls + hikes near Nashville and where to stay.
Heading to Gatlinburg, Tennessee after your Nashville trip? Don’t miss out on these epic Gatlinburg waterfall hikes. Or, check out the rest of the state’s most beautiful waterfalls in Tennessee to visit.
Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Nashville for Access to Outdoor Adventure
If you’re looking for options when it comes to where to stay, Nashville has you covered. Nashville has many neighborhoods, all with distinctly different personalities. So, you won’t have any trouble choosing the best spot to rest your head during your adventure. To name a few-
- Marathon Village, to the West of downtown, has formed around the old Marathon Motor Works buildings from the early 1900’s. Find handmade goods and antiques at boutique businesses. Stay at nearby Hermitage Hotel, which has a rich history of women’s suffrage.
- Germantown, located on the North end of downtown and oldest neighborhood in Nashville, has an elegant period feel among restored Victorian buildings. The Tennessee State Museum is here, along with the Germantown Inn, a luxury boutique hotel.
- Across the river to the East is the Five Points neighborhood. Five Points is very trendy, with a hip boho vibe, along with many Air BnBs. Stay at the unexpected VanDyke Bed and Beverage for a mouthwatering taste of local culture.
- Head South of downtown to the Gulch for a lively urban neighborhood with everything you need. Rest at one of the many boutique hotels, and enjoy live music and diverse foods. You’ll love staying here, and, since the neighborhood is LEED-certified, your trip is sustainable, too.
There are many other areas of Nashville that are worth exploring. Furthermore, no matter what neighborhood in Nashville you decide to stay in, you’ll have a fun, eccentric experience. And, since there are many hiking trails in the areas surrounding Nashville, you won’t be far from adventure outdoors. So, be sure to research all of your options to find the perfect fit for your trip.
27 Best Waterfalls + Hikes Near Nashville for Your Outdoor Adventures
Cane Creek Waterfalls (Easy 0.4 + Miles)
Fall Creek Falls State Park, hidden on the Eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau, has a stunning 256-foot waterfall, Fall Creek Falls. The park also hosts many other waterfalls, including Piney Falls, Cane Creek Falls, and Cane Creek Cascades. Explore the entire area, and stay at a campground or a backcountry camping spot within the park.
The easiest way to view some of the waterfalls in this park is to walk the many interwoven paths near the Visitor Center. View Cane Creek Falls from a pair of overlooks, or go down a dramatic path to its base. Additionally, see Cane Creek Cascades from a swinging suspension bridge over the falls. Be careful on this bridge on windy or wet days.
Greeter Falls Loop (Easy 1.1 Miles)
South Cumberland State Park is one of the best places to hike in Nashville, as this massive 30,845 acre park sits in four different counties. Known for its waterfalls, trails, and camping, the park would take days to fully explore.
If you only have a bit of time for hiking near Nashville, take the easy path on Greeter Falls Loop to see three waterfalls and breathtaking bluffs. There are also the historic remnants of the Greeter home, which was occupied two centuries ago. You can extend your adventure as well, to the Alum campground, to see more waterfalls.
Narrows of the Harpeth (Easy 1.1 Miles)
Narrows of the Harpeth, within Harpeth River State Park, winds just 30 minutes from Nashville’s downtown area. This 1.1 mile out and back follows along the banks of the Harpeth River. You’ll pass stunning rock formations, and catch a glimpse of a small, brilliant waterfall. This waterfall is all that’s left of a massive Patterson Forge iron forge from the 1800s. Now, the area is preserved from any further industrialization.
Stillhouse Hollow Falls Trail (Easy 1.2 Miles)
Drive just over an hour Southwest of downtown to Stillhouse Falls State Natural Area for more hiking around Nashville. This small Natural Area is only 90 acres, but is extraordinary nonetheless.
Hike the short 1.2 miles to Stillhouse Hollow Falls. You’ll be able to see the falls about .75 miles into the hike. You’ll also cross the small creek that flows into the waterfall. Once you’re there, you’ll see the stunning 75-foot cascade and deep hollow that it forms. This is a perfect spot to pack a hammock and a book to read, or to take pictures of colorful wildflowers.
Twin Falls and Down River Trail (Easy 1.6 Miles)
Rock Island State Park, located about an hour and a half from Downtown Nashville, sits in the Caney Fork Gorge Area. With nine other trails, it’s easy to explore the beautiful scenery, interesting history, and varied wildlife within the park.
Some of Rock Island State Park’s scenery is found in gorgeous waterfalls. This hike follows the river through lush forest to two cascades- the Twin Falls. The falls are 80 feet in height and roar loudly above the waters below. Be careful on this hike, as you may need to balance on slippery rocks.
It’s important to note that at times, hikes within gorges like this one may quickly become dangerous due to rising water levels. Pay attention to any warnings or sirens that may go off, and seek shelter immediately.
Cheeks Bend Bluff View Trail (Easy 1.9 Miles)
For some of the best hiking near Nashville TN, head south of downtown for just under an hour to the Cheeks Bend Bluff View Trailhead. This spot sits in the Duck River Complex, a large natural area with a 50 acre endangered bat cave, among other unique features.
Follow Cheeks Bend Bluff View Trail by looking for blue blazes on the trees. Some of the footing is tricky, so watch your step. You’ll pass some caves as you follow the trail. This hike is a true hidden gem- it will make you feel like you’re on an adventure!
Hidden Lake (Easy 1.9 Miles)
Also in Harpeth River State Park, near the Narrows, is a must-do hike to Hidden Lake.
The lake has a long and interesting history. Most notably, in the 1930s, this lake was home to an upstate New York-like lake resort. In the 1940s the lodge caught fire, and the area was turned back into farmland.
As you hike to Hidden Lake, however, you can still see remnants of the history of the area. For instance, look closely at the top of a bluff, and you’ll see a stairway to the old stage and marble ballroom dance floor where Big Band groups once played. Also, you’ll see old buildings and other relics, best viewed in the fall and winter.
Bells Bend Loop Trail (Easy 5.1 Miles)
Bells Bend Park sits just 25 minutes West of downtown. This is a great spot for easy hiking in Nashville Tennessee. Start your adventure at Bells Bend Outdoor Center. From there, begin the Loop Trail through open pastures and past a river. Connect this loop to other trails for a longer trip, or simply enjoy a nice walk through the wildflowers.
Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail (Easy 6.5 Miles)
Looking for a longer hike within a half-hour from Nashville? The Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail is a perfect stop. This easy walk along the river was built on old railroad beds. Therefore, it is very flat and relaxing to experience.
There is a good amount of shade in the spring, summer, and fall months, due to a dense tree canopy. Steep limestone cliffs keep the scenery breathtaking. If you’re looking for a longer hike or a biking adventure, extend your trip to Cheatham Dam.
Ozone Falls Trail- Easy 0.1 Miles OR Moderate 14 Miles
Ozone Falls State Natural Area houses a breathtaking 110-foot waterfall called Ozone Falls. Over the years, the waters have formed a rock amphitheater, an area that you can enter and explore. This short trail could be considered moderately difficult, due to its rocky terrain.
You can also experience Ozone Falls while following Justin P. WIlson Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail. This trail is truly one for the books; spend your morning exploring a waterfall, and your afternoon taking pictures on a mountaintop. This segment connects Ozone Falls to Black Mountain’s peak.
Welch’s Point and Virgin Falls (Easy 0.3 Miles OR Hard 9 Miles)
Just about two hours from downtown is another one of the best hiking trails near Nashville, in Virgin Falls State Natural Area. The main attraction in this area is Virgin Falls, which stems from an underground creek that bursts from a cave and drops a dramatic 110 feet into the waters below. To see Virgin Falls, follow a nine mile loop past three other waterfalls. Once you’re there, you can camp in designated camping spots. Be sure to explore the caves all around the area before leaving this beautiful spot.
For a little rest after a long day of discovery, take one final look at Virgin Falls State Natural Area from above. Head to Welch’s Point, off Welch’s Point Road, for a stunning view of the Caney Fork River below. Bring an evening picnic with you, and watch the sunset here over the Tennessee hills.
Burgess Falls Trail (Moderate 1.6 Miles)
This is easily one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the United States. Burgess Falls State Park was once home to the Cherokee and Chickasaw tribes of Native Americans. In the 19th century, industry took over, making this beautiful area into a source of hydroelectric power for a nearby town. Now, the park is protected and wonderful to explore.
See 135 foot tall Burgess Falls by following the Falling Water River past other, lesser waterfalls. These falls are 20, 30, and 80 feet in height. When you reach Burgess Falls, you’ll notice how the falls wrap around the corner of a cliff, a distinguishing feature from the others.
High Ridge Trail and Shoreline Trail Loop (Moderate 2.8 Miles)
Bledsoe Creek State Park sits just 42 minutes from Nashville’s city center. Another site of rich Native American history, the Chickamauga, Shawnee, Cherokee, and Creek tribes once hunted this land. When English settlers arrived, the animals dispersed, and devastatingly, never returned.
Today, you can enjoy the beauty that remains in the park by hiking, paddling, and camping. One of the best moderate Nashville hiking trails is the High Ridge to Shoreline Trail. The two hikes combine well, bringing dramatic climbs to scenic vistas on High Ridge, and easier, pleasant waters on Shoreline.
Cummins Falls Trail (Moderate 3 Miles)
This moderate three-mile hike in Cummins Falls State Park feels like a backwoods adventure. It’s best to hike here early in the day, before it gets too busy. Make sure you have your permit to enter the gorge where the waterfall flows. The trail includes many stream crossings, and expeditions through deep pools. You’ll need clothes and shoes you don’t mind getting wet, and a backpack to keep your hands free.
When you arrive at the eighth largest waterfall in Tennessee, you’ll be able to swim and explore to your heart’s content. Keep in mind that any visitors 12 or under with you will need to wear a life jacket, which is provided near the base of the waterfall. This is all that is offered at your destination, however, as there are no facilities here. So, make sure you pack out whatever you pack in.
Hidden Springs Trail (Moderate 4.2 Miles)
When hiking in Nashville, Hidden Springs Trail in Cedars of Lebanon State Park is a fantastic choice. As the longest loop in the park, you’ll explore all the best features the park has to offer, including:
- A thick forest of oak, hickory, and cedar trees
- Rambling streams
- Deep, limestone sinkholes, where flowing water disappears
- The hidden springs themselves, which you are free to explore.
Be careful on this trail with dogs and children, as sinkholes may surprise you! Also, wear shoes that you do not mind getting muddy. Michael Hicks
Granier Ridge Trail and South Cove Trail (Moderate 4.4 Miles)
We would be remiss if we did not mention places to hike in Nashville without mentioning Radnor Lake. Only 20 minutes from downtown, this beloved state park is a hidden suburban Music City gem, perfect for escaping the city. In addition to Granier Ridge and South Cove, the park offers eight miles of other interesting trails.
Both South Cove and Granier Ridge take the hiker up to epic ridges on moderately difficult pathways. Often, the climb is rocky, but worth it. The trails are well maintained, and dogs are not allowed. Keep an eye out for bobcats, otters, and owls as you explore.
Mossy Ridge Trail (Moderate 4.9 Miles)
The Warner Parks within city limits have 3000 acres of the best hiking in Nashville.
The Mossy Ridge Trail takes you through the hills that edge the city in Percy Warner Park. Even though this is a fairly urban hike, you’ll gain dramatic elevation. Also, you may be reminded of more secluded hikes further from civilization.
Snooper’s Rock Trail (Moderate 5.9 Miles)
Want to find a truly unexpected Nashville-based outdoor adventure? Head about 2 hours away from the city to Prentice Cooper State Forest, on the picturesque Tennessee River Gorge.
The hike to Snooper’s Rock is mostly shaded, though you’ll still be able to see much of the wondrous scenery around you. You’ll love this forest hike, and the jagged cliffs you’ll pass. Finally, when you reach Snooper’s point, you’ll be astounded at the amazing view below of the Gorge. This hike is even better in the autumn when fall colors explode below you against the river.
Bryant Grove Trail (Moderate 8.4 Miles)
Located in Long Hunter State Park, only a half-hour from Nashville’s downtown area, Bryant Grove Trail is a great hike with gorgeous water views. While many hike the Volunteer Trail here, this is another great option.
Beginning along Couchville Lake, you’ll pass unique limestone glades, tall cedars, and you may get a glimpse of some deer. The path follows the shores of Percy Priest Lake, then turns back. Enjoy this long, yet mostly flat, scenic hike near Nashville.
Montgomery Bell Trail (Moderate 10.4 Miles)
The Montgomery Bell Trail has some of the finest hiking in Nashville Tennessee. You’ll enjoy a long hike through dense woodland, and across some bubbling creeks. In addition, since this trail is located only 40 minutes from downtown in Montgomery Bell State Park, you won’t have to drive very far. Finally, since it’s so long, you can also stay overnight while hiking in one of three shelters.
Garrison Creek to Jackson Falls (Moderate 24.4 Miles)
Just about a half-hour from Nashville’s downtown lies the Natchez Trace Parkway, a 444-mile recreational road through three states. This epic trail follows the old path once taken by Native Americans, European settlers, soldiers, and US Presidents. You can drive, bike, or ride horses along the road. Numerous hikes follow the path as well.
The trail is mostly easy, though the length can get tiring, and navigation can get tricky. Also, watch out for ticks in the spring and summer months. Once you reach Jackson Falls, you’ll be able to take advantage of the picnic area, as well as enjoy the serene landscape around the rushing waters.
Blue Hole Trail (Hard 0.5 Miles)
Rock Island State Park is not only home to the easier Twin Falls and Down River Trail, but also the Blue Hole. Just under a half-mile long, the Blue Hole Trail may seem like an easy option. However, this wet, rocky path winds over metal grates and through the water. Your feet may get wet, so wear adequate shoes. Your reward is a tropical oasis of small waterfalls that collect into the Blue Hole below. Make sure to bring a camera, you’ll want pictures of this special spot.
Honey Creek Loop (Hard 5.8 Miles)
A bit more of a drive for hikes from Nashville, Honey Creek Loop is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. However, exploring this park’s many hiking trails is well worth the trip.
Honey Creek Loop is like a natural obstacle course, full of rock scrambles, crevices, and stream crossings. There are steps, wooden bridges, bluffs, ridges, boulders, and fallen trees. You’ll also see old rock houses and waterfalls. All this gives you a glorious birds-eye view of Honey Creek below. While this hike is difficult, it is definitely a must-see.
Fiery Gizzard Grundy Forest to Foster Falls (Hard 12.5 Miles)
The final trail in South Cumberland State Park we’d like to feature is the difficult Fiery Gizzard Grundy to Foster Falls. 12.5 miles one way, this difficult hike is best done if you have multiple days to visit or a ride back to your car.
The Fiery Gizzard begins in the Grundy Forest at the Grundy Forest Picnic Shelter. Within a quarter-mile, you’ll see a large rock shelter, near a Hemlock tree that is over 500 years old. Next, you’ll pass Blue Hole Falls (different from the Blue Hole listed above).
As you continue your trek, you’ll see rock formations like Chimney Rock, a 20-foot spike. You’ll be able to climb house-sized boulders, explore caves, and even find an old moonshine still, in case you forgot you are in Tennessee. The hike ends at Little Gizzard Creek, and Foster Falls.
Visiting Nashville: Safe Travel Practices
While traveling through the Nashville area, remember to follow healthy travel practices like washing your hands regularly, wearing a mask, and keeping a safe distance from others. Due to Covid-19, some parks or businesses may be closed so be sure to call ahead before arriving. Official websites will provide the latest updates on local policies and the status of local businesses.
Please keep your safety and the safety of others in mind at all times. When you are comfortable traveling, please do so mindfully and respect the local regulations. And finally, consider booking a hotel with free cancellation options in the case that you may need to change your travel plans at the last minute.
Nashville is famous for its music scene, lively culture, and opportunity for dreamers. It’s also a great base for anyone looking for outdoor adventure. From busy to secluded, well maintained to adventurous, these hikes from Nashville have something for any kind of adventurer. So, when staying in Five Points, 12South, Midtown, or Germantown, be sure to check out one or more of these amazing Nashville hiking trails.