If you’re looking for a quick day hike near Nashville, that’s more exciting than the quaint hiking of Radnor Lake State Park, and a closer drive than the serene waterfalls at Cummins Falls, the trails along Percy Priest Lake fit the bill. Hike along the shady paths while watching boaters, kayakers and swimmers enjoy the day on the water. It definitely enticed me to come back with a boat!
Long Hunter State Park sits along Percy Priest Lake and has every activity you’re looking for – hiking, kayaking, boating, biking, swimming, fishing, and camping. There is over 26 miles of trails, paved and unpaved. As the park stretches over 2,600 acres, it’s divided into 4 sections – Couchville, Baker’s Grove, Bryant Grove and Sellars Farm.
Ross & I we’re looking for an unpaved loop-trail with views of the lake – so our 2 best options were the 4 mile Day Loop trail and 5 mile Volunteer Trail in Baker’s Grove. It was our first time at the park, and we didn’t really have a plan except drive there and figure it out. Turns out the park was larger than expected, and you actually had to know the park for parking.
After finding a detailed map on the Tennessee State Parks website, we found the Day Loop trail parking area. Note that generic Google Maps GPS for Long Hunter State Park takes you to the visitor’s center area, which doesn’t have great options for hiking.
The trail was perfect for the day – shady, and a fairly easy hike. There were great bluffs to sit at along the way to enjoy the views of Percy Priest Lake while eating a snack. There was even a small beach like area to get in the water if you wanted to cool off about 2 miles into the loop trail.
Long Hunter State Park had more than we expected, with swimming, boating, kayaking, and more. The best part is it’s only a short 20 mile drive outside of Nashville. If you have a pet, they are allowed leashed on almost all of the trails, except Bryant Grove. Next time, we will be back with a boat rented from Elm Hill Marina – double decker pontoon boats with water slides!
What I wore: Outdoor Voices
Outfit: After living in Austin for 4 years, it’s impossible to be unfamiliar with the brand Outdoor Voices. It’s a fun, technical apparel brand for recreation, bases on community and “doing things.” I’m wearing their Hudson shorts, and Doing Things Tank. I’m normally a 4 in Lululemon speed shorts, and wear an XS. I’m top fits TTS and also wearing an XS.
Footwear: It’s always hard choosing footwear for a hike! I used to wear Chacos, but really needed something close toed. I went to a local running store back in Michigan, Playmaker’s, and tried on all the women’s hiking shoes, and found the Keens most comfortable with high arch support. I’m normally a 7 or 7.5, and went with the 7.5 for extra sock room. SmartWool Ankle socks work great with hiking shoes! I prefer the taller sock so there’s no slipping. I’ve never gotten a blister with them!
Backpack: An absolute must for hiking: a CamelBak! I prefer the lightest bag possible, just enough room for snacks and sunscreen in addition to the water bladder. The 1.5 liter is plenty for 1 person for a day hike.
Sunglasses: Erika Ray-Bans that are very light, polarized, and perfect for activity. If you’re looking for the exact pair, Erika Tortoise Matte Polarized, you have to custom order them for Ray-Ban.com. They only sell the non-polarized matte version in stores in tortoise.
Snacks: Ross got me hooked on energy Gu! It’s an acquired taste and texture, but the Chocolate Sea Salt tastes like chocolate pudding.
Where else should we explore near Nashville?