Deano’s Favorite State Parks – Tennessee

Tennessee has 57 state parks.  I’ve been to several but haven’t been to all of them.  I also have not fully explored the ones I’ve been to.  The whole point of all this traveling is to see things and do things I’ve never done before so we will hit all 57 of them.  We’ll explore until our heart is content and then move on to the next one.  Some will be quick (measured in hours) and others might take several trips or multiple days to take everything in.  There are 20 or so that should be simple day trips from Nashville (or overnight trips). We’ll start with those.  Some of the parks that are farther East and West. We’ll do those as our RV travelling skills increase.  I figure this will take us a few years to accomplish.  This goal lets us test everything out and get our legs underneath us to see if the RV life is really for us before we hit the open road.

Our BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) is to visit all of Tennessee’s State Parks. Here are the one’s I’ve been to…force ranked:

#1 – Radnor Lake (All The Time) – This is a man-made lake in the heart of Nashville.  I believe a railroad company dammed the valley up to have water for their trains.  It doesn’t really matter because it has been there long enough now that you can’t even tell it is man-made while hiking around 90% of it. There is an old asphalt road that runs beside the lake and it is falling into the lake in many spots.  That is about my only complaint about the entire park.  I usually just hike trails that keep me away from that area.  The local authorities (Park Rangers and civilian enforcers) also are very protective of the property.  There is a long list of rules you must adhere to in order to enjoy things.  Mess up and some enforcer might pop out from behind a tree and scold you!  The trails around it go from a lakeside hike and also weave in and out of the surrounding forest (and up and down the ridges).  This park is so far up my list mainly because it is so close and accessible to my own home.  It is a short drive to a spot in town where you can quickly forget that you are even in a town of more than a million people.  The combination of all this makes it my favorite TN State Park.

#2 – Burgess Falls (visited 2008) – I’ve hiked to this waterfall once when the kids were smaller.  The hike down to it runs right along the river and I just kept thinking what would happen if one of the kids jumped off the trail into the river.  YIKES!  Once you are to the overlook the waterfall is beautiful.  Our group was not adventurous enough to take the trail down to the bottom of the falls [sad face emoji].  Emily and I will go back to this one day and do the whole thing (although I’ve read recently, I think, that the trail down is closed for repair) [double sad face emoji].

#3 – Falls Creek Falls (visited 2008) – We spent a day here on the same trip we visited Burgess Falls.  We saw the high points and it was fun.  They were literally high points.  We went on a suspended bridge over a creek that then went off a cliff.  We didn’t fully explore the area at all.  The campground looked very nice and there looked like there was a lot to explore.  We will go back.

#4 – Cummins Falls (visited 2013) – We packed the whole family in the car one afternoon and took Mom on a Mother’s Day hike.  A rare day where the whole clan spends a Sunday afternoon together.  It was a fun adventure and a spectacular view from the top and bottom sides of the falls.  This was a pretty new state park when we went and is very popular.

#5 – Dunbar Cave State Park (visited 2020) – We made a return trip to Clarksville to visit Dunbar Cave. We waited until they began doing cave tours again (post COVID). It was MUCH cooler (get it cave humor) than I thought it was going to be! Take the cave tour! You can read about it HERE.

#6 – Long Hunter State Park (visited 2017) – Emily and I hiked the Couchville Lake Trail (almost 2.5 miles) that circles through the woods surrounding the lake.  It is a very pretty lake.  We want to go back and rent one of the canoes and paddle around.  There are also some other trails that we want to hike there to see if they are good.

#7 – Montgomery Bell State Park (visited 2011) – The boys and I got into riding our mountain bikes and we hit trails at Montgomery Bell which are very fun.

#8 – Bledsoe Creek State Park (visited 2020) – We visited here on a very, very hot weekend in July. We hiked the trails in the park (which were very pretty). Then we left our RV there and went home to spend the night. Not because we hated the place but because our RV’s air conditioner broke. I’m too old, fat, and wimpy to brave 98 degrees of Tennessee humid heat. You can read about it HERE.

#9 – Port Royal State Park (visited 2020) – Emily and I took our first RV trip to see this park. It is a pretty little park, but it ranks low on my list because it is small. Also because the covered, wooden bridge that used to be there no longer exists. You can read about it HERE.


Hiking The Fiery Gizzard Trail To Raven’s Point – South Cumberland State Park – Tracy City, TN

The Fiery Gizzard Trail up to Raven’s Point is one of Tennessee’s finest hikes. I also think it is one of the harder ones. The trail is part of the South Cumberland State Park, near Tracy City, TN. I have hiked part of this trail before with my friend back in 2015. I remembered, from …

Hiking Foster Falls (and Climber’s Loop) – South Cumberland State Park – Sequatchie, TN

We got into town for our hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail (the next day). We drove up to the south end of that trail and visited Foster Falls (since we wouldn’t be making it to that point on our long hike). We hiked to the bottom of the falls (beautiful) and then took another …

Cumberland Trail State Park – Grassy Cove Segment – Black Mountain Section (Crossville, TN)

I had no idea this was a thing. It is kinda like a little mini Appalachian Trail (for front country hikers). Hey…that’s me?!?! The Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park manages the Cumberland Trail (a State Scenic Trail). The Cumberland Trail follows a line of high ridges and deep gorges lying along Tennessee’s Cumberland …

Henry Horton State Park – Kayaking the Duck River (AKA The Dirty Duck) – Chapel Hill, TN

We visited Henry Horton State Park, near Chapel Hill, TN. Our main goal was to kayak on the Duck River (which runs right through the state park). We soon learned the locals call it the Dirty Duck…even though it isn’t dirty at all?!? Weird?!?. We also explored the Tennessee humidity on bikes (as well as …

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park + Jonesborough, TN + Elizabethton, TN

On our second day in East Tennessee, we visited Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park in Elizabethton, TN. They have an exhibit, a recreated version of Fort Watauga, and a trail along the beautiful Watauga River. While in Elizabethton we also went to see the covered bridge, Carter Mansion (oldest frame house in TN), and Sabine …

Hiking Roan Mountain – Carver’s Gap to Roan High Knob to Cloudland Mountain to Roan High Bluff

We started our week in east Tennesse by hiking Roan Mountain (the sixth highest peak in Tennessee). From Carver’s Gap we hiked on the Appalachian Trail to the Roan High Knob shelter. The summit of Roan High Knob (6285 ft.) was the highest point of our week. Then we headed to Cloudland Mountain (where an …

Bledsoe Creek State Park (Gallatin, TN) Hiking Shoreline Trail and High Ridge Trail

Camping in the blazing hot Tennessee Summer without working AC?!?  Not advised!  In July we went to Bledsoe Creek State Park (in Gallatin, Tennessee).  This was our first state park camping in our RV.  It was extremely hot on the weekend we went.  It was 98 degrees (the hottest weekend of 2020).  We hiked the …

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