A 20-minute drive from the heart of Nashville, Radnor Lake State Park is a 1,332-acre sanctuary of tranquility, trees, and wildlife that smells like leaves, grass, and still water. Surrounding the 100-year-old man-made lake are short trails, totaling six miles, that range from .25 to 1.9 miles. Cyclists, runners, and dogs are prohibited everywhere expect the paved Otter Creek Road Trail. The most popular route is the flat, nearly 2-mile loop around the lake. For those who prefer their hikes to feel more like rugged hikes than gentle meanders there are paths less traveled by, like the Ridge Trail that veers up into and back down through the shady hillside.
What Makes It Great
The park's relative proximity to just about everywhere is a key part of its appeal, as is it offers something to people of all fitness levels, including the 2 paved paths accessible to those in wheelchairs. This respite from urban life is especially nice, too, because of the park's no-jogging rule, which has the effect of slowing everything down. There are speed-walking exceptions, but most people come here not to be in a hurry or to make a ruckus. They walk slowly, alone or in quietly conversing pairs, pausing for frequent sightings of deer, turtles, myriad birds such as owls, and other winged or four-legged park inhabitants.
Who is Going to Love It
Birdwatchers flock here in the spring and fall during migration because Radnor stands out as one of Tennessee's most popular watering holes for warblers and other birds. People who crave nature but have only an hour or two to spare can get their fix of fresh air and wide open space and sky by walking through the hardwood forest. The atmosphere and short length of the trails are family- and kid-friendly, and the views of the water, trees, neighboring hills, and often ubiquitous deer are picturesque. Local artists and photographers visit the park to paint take photos. Even when the trails are most crowded, in warmer months, the park is an oasis of calm. All of the trails have benches where visitors often sit in peace. More serious hikers can string trails together to get a workout.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Entrance to the park is free, as is parking. There are two lots, the main one of which is next to the park's nature center, on the western side of the lake. Take I-65 to Harding Place (exit 78) then drive west on Harding Place to Granny White Pike. Turn left and drive south to Otter Creek Road, which is across from Granny White Market, and turn left. To reach the second parking lot, on the other side of the late, west of I-65, at the intersection of Old Hickory Blvd and Franklin Pike, turn onto Franklin and keep going until you read the parking lot at the end of the open road. Restrooms are available at both entrances. There is no food allowed in the park and no feeding of wildlife. Dogs are prohibited on all of the trails except the paved Otter Creek Road Trail, where they must be kept on leashes.