Guide to Percy and Edwin Warner Parks

Guide to Percy and Edwin Warner Parks

One of the most amazing aspects of Nashville are all the wonderful parks avaialable to us.  There are hiking trails, biking routes, nature centers and more as far as the eye can see.  While all of our parks have their own amazing and unique characteristics, none stand out more that the Warner Parks, Percy and Edwin Warner.  There is so much to do in these parks that you probably didn't even know about.  Here's our Guide to the Warner Parks to understand everything they offer and make the most of these amazing parks.


Warner Parks History

Three prominent Nashvillians shared in the vision that produced the Warner Parks. The first of these, Colonel Luke Lea, was encouraged in this far-sighted plan by his father-in-law, Percy Warner. A life-long outdoorsman and nature lover, Warner was a prominent Nashville business man and served as chair of the Park Board. In January 1927, Colonel Lea and Mrs. Percie (Warner) Lea generously deeded the initial 868 acres of land to the city. Following Percy Warner's unexpected death later that year, Lea petitioned the Park Board to name the park after his father-in-law. Lea's contribution is recognized by the one of the highest points in Percy Warner Park, Luke Lea Heights, also known as Lea Summit.

Following his brother's death, Edwin Warner succeeded his brother on the Park Board, and eventually he became chair as well. He was a driving force behind the acquisition and development of the Parks. In 1937, the Park Board commemorated his valuable contributions by designating all acquired property west and south of Old Hickory Boulevard as Edwin Warner Park.

Warner Parks Hiking Maps & Trails

Map of Warner Parks Hiking Trails

The hiking trail system of Percy and Edwin Parks includes 9 color-coded trails ranging in length from 150 yards to 4.5 miles. The trails in Percy Warner Park were started by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, while those in Edwin Warner Park were started by the Youth Conservation Corps and Nature Center staff in 1974. All of the trails have been expanded, improved, and maintained by the Nature Center staff with the aid of seasonal workers and volunteers. In 1980, all Warner Parks hiking trails were listed in the Tennessee Recreation Trails System, so designated by the State Department of Conservation. Trails are open from daybreak until the Park closes at 11 p.m.

Edwin Warner TrailsTrail Sign in Edwin Warner Park

There are three TRAILHEADS in Edwin Warner Park. The main trailhead is located on the Nature Center grounds and is the only one that contains maps, trail guide booklets, Nature Center program schedules, and other literature. The Natchez Trace Trailhead, just west of the Nature Center, is a covered shelter with resting benches and a large Park map. The Owl Hollow Trailhead provides access to the trail system across from picnic are #6 by the Little Harpeth River.

The HUNGRY HAWK trail is a 1/3-mile loop, blazed PURPLE, and rated EASY. The trail passes by a wet-weather stream and goes through woods, field edges, and an open meadow. Special features include a bird blind, an observation platform, a wildlife tracking station, and a well house near a small cemetery
marking the site of an old homestead. 

The LITTLE ACORN TRAIL is a 150-yard loop, blazed GREEN, rated EASY, and begins 200 yards from the trailhead. The total distance from the trailhead, around the trail, and back again is just under 1/3 mile. This trail has a selfguiding booklet with five stops designed especially for children aged six years and under, although visitors of all ages will find it informative. 

The AMPHITHEATER TRAIL is 200 yards one way, blazed BROWN, and rated EASY. It passes an old home-site and leads to The Nature Theater, a secluded stone amphitheater and stage that visitors may use on a first come, first served basis.

The NATURE LOOP is a ¾-mile loop, blazed YELLOW, and rated MODERATE. A self-guiding booklet with 20 stops is available to inform visitors about many trail features including a wet weather spring and creek, a variety of trees, and a section of trail that is the historic Natchez Trace.

The HARPETH WOODS TRAIL is a 2½-mile loop, blazed BLUE, and rated MODERATE. Hikers may begin this trail at any of the three trailheads to enjoy a rich variety of forest types–especially large Beech, Oak, and Cedar trees. Also cross a rock quarry that was active in the 1930s through the early 1940s when the Works Progress Administration was doing stonework and building roads in the Parks. Collecting fossils is prohibited! Part of the trail, about ¾-mile, also follows the historic Natchez Trace.

The OWL HOLLOW TRAIL is a 1/3-mile loop, blazed ORANGE, and rated EASY. Closest access is from the Owl Hollow trailhead. This trail was built in 1974 by the Hillwood Environmental Group. It has an informative, interpretive booklet with 15 stops. Enter this tranquil, deep hollow and listen for the Barred Owls that may be heard or seen here.

Percy Warner Trails

Percy Warner Park Map & Trails

The TRAILHEAD and parking for both trails are located at the Deep Well picnic area off Highway 100. Follow the lead trail and the Warner Woods Trail begins 200 yards from the trailhead, and the Mossy Ridge Trail begins 300 yards from the trailhead.

The WARNER WOODS TRAIL is a 2.5-mile loop, blazed WHITE, and rated MODERATE. The entire trail is in the heavily wooded interior of the Park, and about a third of the trail is in one of the Park’s most secluded regions. Also, hikers can experience a breathtaking view from the cleared knob of Luke Lea Heights at an elevation of 922 feet by walking down a paved road that the trail crosses.

Mossy Ridge and Cane Connector trail sign


The MOSSY RIDGE TRAIL is a 4.5-mile loop, blazed RED, and rated MODERATE. The trail winds up and down wooded hills and hollows, crosses several springs and open meadows, and offers users a unique opportunity to see the wide variety of plants and animals that may be found in the Park. Two especially nice features are a short spur trail that leads to a “quiet point” (see map) and a steep, rocky ridge near Scott Hollow (also on map), with trailsides carpeted in moss; both sections have resting benches.

The CANE CONNECTOR TRAIL is 1-mile (one-way) with a CANDYSTRIPE blaze and rated EASY. Opened in 1997, the trail runs between the Mossy Ridge and Hungry Hawk trails, thus connecting the entire Warner Parks trail system. Following the old Natchez Trace, hikers should exercise CAUTION when crossing Old Hickory Boulevard.

Warner Parks Ecology

American Beech trees in winterThe Parks are located in the western edge of the Nashville Basin. Several ecological zones are recognized within the Parks, most notably oak-hickory and beech-maple temperate forests, and cedar glades. Hidden springs, creeks, and wetland areas also bring interesting plant and animal species, including Maidenhair and Walking Ferns, Cardinal Flower, River Otter, Muskrat, and Northern Zigzag Salamanders. Look deep into the hollows to find Pawpaw patches and Virginia Bluebells, and high on the knobs for White Ash, American Beech, and numerous red oaks.

Pre-park farming has had an everlasting effect on the ecology of Warner Parks. Many fields sport native grasses ofAndropogon and wildflowers such as Goldenrod (Solidagospp) and Tall Ironweed (Vernonia gigantea), as well as Honey Locust and Osage Orange trees. Bush Honeysuckle, (non-native) Privet, Wintercreeper Euonymous, and Tree-of-Heaven or Ailanthus are evident throughout both Edwin and Percy Warner Parks. Although these invasives were originally planted by the first settlers of the park land, most continue to thrive due to their many advantages over our native flora: longer growth season, deep roots, and fruit with multiple seeds are just a few of the strategies used to out-compete our native plants.

Warner Park Nature Center

7311 Highway 100
Nashville, TN 37221
(615) 352-6299 phone
(615) 880-2282 fax

Warner Park Nature Center is an environmental education and recreation facility of the Nashville Metropolitan Board of Parks and Recreation. The Nature Center is a place where people and nature come together.  We serve as a jump-off point for exploring the 2684 acres of Nashville's Percy Warner and Edwin Warner Parks.  We offer a wide range of environmental education programs, school field trips, educator training workshops, outdoor recreation programs and other special activities for people of all ages.  We serve as a natural history and education reference center for individuals and groups.  We promote and serve as a resource for organic gardening and native plant landscaping.

Our campus includes the Susanne Warner Bass Learning Center which houses a natural history museum and programming space; the Milbrey Warner Waller Library complete with an extensive collection of natural history titles; the Emily Warner Dean Administration Building; a working organic garden including a greenhouse and a cedar shadehouse; a wildflower garden and fern garden; the Frist teaching pond; grounds landscaped with native plants; and the main trailhead for twelve miles of hiking trails.

Warner Parks Amenities

Children and adults flying model airplanes

  • 2 golf courses - Harpeth Hills Golf Course and Percy Warner Golf Course
  • 2 cross country running courses-Vaughn's Gap cross country course and Steeplechase cross country course
  • Baseball, soccer, and softball fields with concessions, restrooms, and evening lights. Field reservations can be made by calling 615-862-8405.
  • Model airplane field. Edwin Warner Model Aviatorsmeet here regularly.
  • Bob Brown Field Station research facility
  • Reservable picnic areas along the Little Harpeth River off of Vaughn Road in Edwin Warner Park, as well as in Indian Springs off of Chickering Road in Percy Warner Park. Call 615-862-8408 to reserve these shelters April through October.
  • Edwin Warner dog park on Vaughn Road
  • 1811 Hodge House, restored through funding from Friends of Warner Park and Metro Parks
  • Steeplechase horse track, home of the Iroquois Steeplechase race in May
  • Map and Compass course at the Woolwine parking lot in Edwin Warner Park
  • Equestrian Center and horse trails, beginning off of Old Hickory Boulevard in Percy Warner Park

Friends of Warner Parks

Friends of Warner Parks is dedicated to the preservation, protection, and stewardship of Percy and Edwin Warner Parks. It works to protect the natural and historical integrity of the area by supporting appropriate recreational activities, maintaining and enhancing its features, and promoting programs that inspire appreciation and conservation of the Parks. For information about Friends of Warner Park special events, contact  Patrice Nelson at 615-370-8053.  Paul Fowler is the director of Volunteers for Friends of Warner Park. Scout groups, schools and other organizations interested in volunteering at Warner Parks should contact Paul Fowler at 615-370-8053.

Full Moon PickingAdditionally, Friends of Warner Parks hosts several Full Moon Picking Parties throughout the warmer months. Local bands headline the event, but every one is encouraged to bring an instrument to play. Beverages are included with the admission price, and food from local vendors is available for sale. Tickets may be purchased at the Friends office located at the Warner Park Headquarters,50 Vaughn Road. All sales benefit Friends of Warner Park!



Posted Wednesday, May 6, 2015 by Michael Gonzales in Guides, Parks, Spotlight, Places