An excellent place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Chattanooga or Nashville, this park found about an hour in-between the two cities, offers half a dozen short, easy hiking trails, plus a dedicated one-mile nature trail to help visitors take in all the natural wonder of the park with little effort. Knowing that the park’s earliest documented inhabitants lived there two full millennia ago adds an air of mystique to the heavily canopied grounds, which also welcome anglers and campers all year round.
What Makes It Great
Of particular interest to anthropology and archaeology buffs thanks to its known history as an abandoned Native American land from the Middle Woodland period, the 400-acre park is as beautiful as it is culturally interesting. Heavy with birds in the spring and fall, its trees provide shade throughout the year and turn a gorgeous array of orange, yellow, and golden hues each autumn. To fully enjoy its splendor, the park offers seven short, simple trails—one of which is paved to allow golf carts to navigate the course on-site.
There are seven trails to choose from at Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park. The shortest is the .4-mile Forks of the River Trail, which indeed offers an up-close glimpse of the fork in the Duck River where it splits off into “Little Duck” and “Big Duck.” Other easy trails at the park include the Abandoned River Channel Trail (0.6 miles), the Nature Trail (one mile), and the Old Stone Fort Enclosure Trail (1.3 miles). The Nature Trail is closest to the campsites and facilities, looping around by the water as well. To explore some ancient Native American sites, try the Old Stone Fort Enclosure Trail, which begins and ends at the museum on-site.
For more of a challenge, try the moderate Little Duck River Trail (1.5 miles) or the Garrison Road Trail (0.9 miles). Connect some of the trails together, such as the Abandoned River Channel Trail and the Forks in the River Trail for example, for a longer adventure. If you want to stay along the water, the Little Duck Loop is your best bet.
Who is Going to Love It
Anyone who’s curious about the people who came before us and who enjoys a casual stroll along quiet, canopied trails will enjoy a glimpse back in time in this small spot. This secluded park is a wonderful place to get some fresh air, while not having to travel too far away from Tennessee’s two largest cities.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Interstate 24, take Murfreesboro Highway to Stone Fort Drive and continue into the park. Make a right onto Campground Lane and follow signs for museum parking.