Long Hunter is a gorgeous state park just east of Nashville. The lakes, trails and varied woodland of the park make you feel a million miles from the busy city. The large Percy Priest Lake runs along the western edge of the park, and provides many scenic panoramas out over the water. The four main areas of Long Hunter are Couchville, Baker's Grove, Bryant Grove, and Sellars Farm - each region has a varied landscape and interesting environment. The diverse and impressive wildlife at Long Hunter is stunning - you are likely to see huge blue herons, groups of grazing deer and rich birdlife as you hike the park's trails.
What Makes It Great
When the Percy Priest Dam was built in 1968, the large Percy Priest Lake was formed. Long Hunter State Park offers wonderful access to, and views of, this lake from an interesting and varied land environment. Long Hunter features outcroppings of exposed limestone, and diverse wildlife. The one overnight trail in the park is the 6-mile Volunteer Trail which winds along the Percy Priest Lake shoe and connects to the Bakers Grove Recreation Area. A free overnight use permit is needed if you want to camp out on the Volunteer Trail - these are available from the park office between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Other trails include the Deer Trail, a one-mile loop in the Couchville sector of the park. This particular trail was actually created by deer, which are abundant in the park. On a recent Fall visit, a large group of deer were grazing by the roadside -- peaceful and protected as there is no hunting allowed in the park. A classic trail is the 2-mile Couchville Lake Trail, which runs around the edge of the small inland lake. This fully-paved trail is flat and fast, and makes for a scenic quick running loop or nature hike. Leaf emblems painted on the pavement alert hikers to identification plaques attached to specific trees - this was a nice and unintrusive way to learn about the diverse types of tree found on this trail.
Who is Going to Love It
Hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers and backpackers alike can enjoy the trails that loop and run through Long Hunter State Park. The short trails such as the quarter-mile Nature Trail, the Deer Trail mile-long loop, or the three-quarter mile Inland Trail. Hiking the Inland Trail, you're treated to a diverse range of hardwood forest - the high point of the trail is a wooded hilltop and the spring wildflowers are wonderful. There are some karst formations in the limestone along this trail, which are topographically interesting. Mountain bikers of all levels can enjoy the Jones Mill mountain bike trail in the Bryant Grove Recreation Area. This is a double looped trail with one 2-mile and one 4-mile loop. The mountain-bike trail is also open to hikers and runners.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Nashville, take I-40 East to Mount Juliet. Exits 226A-226B-226C take you to TN 171 South, and Long Hunter is 6.6 miles down this road. Long Hunter is 23.5 miles from downtown Nashville, about a 30-minute drive. There are free parking areas in all four regions of the park - the Park Office is located adjacent to the Deer Trail in the Couchville sector of the park. Boat ramp access is in the Bryant Grove sector. Swimming is not permitted in Couchville lake, and you are not allowed to drink alcohol in the park. The paved Lake Trail is closed to skaters and bikes.