Cedars of Lebanon State Park, just 45 minutes from downtown Nashville, is a wonderful state park to visit for a family weekend camping trip, or for a solid trail run or hike. Distinct looped hiking trails, the longest of which is 5 miles around, are linked by paved roadways. There are 117 campsites to choose from, with comfortable showers and a large seasonal outdoor swimming pool where you can cool off. There are also at least 18 caves to explore within the park and its 8 miles of hiking trails - it's a great choice for an overnight or weekend backpacking trip.
What Makes It Great
One special aspect of the park is the distinctive cedar-glade habitats, which are unusual to see in central Tennessee (this type of hardwood forest is more often seen in the Eastern Basin region). A classic loop hiking trails is the Hidden Spring Trail - this takes a lazy circle through dense forest and interesting, varied terrain. The trail takes you past limestone sinks, streams, the characteristic cedar glades and oak-hickory forest areas. It's a narrow trail and in the summer the plant life will be brushing against your knees as you hike.
The Cedar Forest Trail offers a shorter, 2-mile loop in the western part of the park; shorter circular trails take in the limestone sinks and another cedar glade. These shorter trails are good choices for those with young children, or beginner hikers. Cedars of Lebanon park is riddled with caves - there are 18 known caves within the park and likely more still to be discovered. Jackson Cave is a huge highlight, with an entrance over 30 feet high.
Who is Going to Love It
Cedars of Lebanon is a great park for families and for weekend hikers out of Nashville and the surrounding areas. It's also an easy weekend trip from Chattanooga and points in southern Kentucky. The hiking trails are amazingly varied and offer something for all levels of hiker and backpacker, from beginners to those with more experience. The diversity of landscapes and wildlife within the park is amazing, and the facilities for campers are cozy. Shower blocks in each of the three campground areas have plentiful hot water, wooded campsites are available in a variety of forest-sheltered and water-side locations. The outdoor swimming pool is a highlight of summer visits, with lifeguards on duty to keep an eye out for swimmers' safety.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Nashville, get on I-40 East and travel just over 22 miles to Exit 232A. Take TN 109 South to TN 265 East - the park straddles TN 231 just south of Lebanon. If you want to avoid Nashville traffic, the Music City Star runs from downtown Nashville to Lebanon, which is just a few miles from the park.