Trail Notes: Exploring in Middle Tennessee

Trail Team 11


The Place: Radnor Lake State Park, Nashville
The Hike: A sampling of a couple different trails

When I met up with my sister and a high school friend in Nashville for a girls weekend, we didn’t expect it to be downright dreary. We hoped it would discourage trail runners at what was sure to be a crowded state park, but weren’t so lucky.

Radnor Lake State Park is one of those special metro parks that offer a glimpse of wild while being practically surrounded by the thrum of city life. The 1,300-acres on which it sits is wildly popular with dog walkers, trail runners and bird watchers.

After a quick pre-hike bathroom stop at the visitor center, Mini (my sister) and Objection (my friend is an attorney) decided to hoof it down the Spillway Trail and decide where to go from there.

The Spillway Trail follows the spillway and is paved in spots. It is also relatively flat, which is great for beginners or those looking for an easy, relaxing time. Not that any of that mattered this trip – leaves were down all over the place, and with the light rain, made for a few slick spots.

One of the strangest sights we spotted was along this trail. A whole flock of turkey buzzards were perched in the trees along one section of the spillway. It seemed a few were taking turns picking at something along the ground. I didn’t look too closely – I didn’t want to lose my breakfast.

A turkey vulture perches on a branch over the spillway. (B.Stack/WJHL)

Only a few stops down the trail, Objection stopped us. She spotted a pair of deer up the ridge from us. It took me a moment to find them, but after a couple minutes of looking at them, we decided both were bucks. Unfortunately, they were too far away and blended too well to get a photo.

A quarter-mile down the trail, it forks. To go straight, is to go onward to the 1.35 mile Lake Trail. To go right, is to cross the bridge and head toward the Dam Walkway, about 0.2 miles in length. After some deliberation, we decided to at least head across the bridge and check out the dam and the Valve House. We even took a look at hiking the short Valve House Trail, but ultimately decided not to due to the loudness of a gaggle of people taking selfies in the mist.

The Dam Walkway is also paved, but mostly it seems to be because it is used as a road. It’s very popular area of the park. Several people were out with their kids or dogs, braving the possibility of a downpour.

From the dam, we turned left and headed up what turned out to be a very popular Otter Creek Road. It was interesting to see how a road being mostly closed and left to nature changes. Parts along one side were buckled. Roots under the road caused small bumps. Also: walking on the asphalt in my trail runners was not good. My feet quickly started hurting. (That may also have something to do with the fact those shoes still aren’t completely broken in.)

Overall, it’s very easy hike in a very gorgeous but CROWDED state park. If you’re looking for a little slice of outdoors when next in Nashville, definitely check it out.

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