Tennessee, especially Nashville, has a tremendous number of parks to choose from whether you are looking for hiking, jogging, walking, golf or more. Of all these gems, Radnor Lake State Park is nicely tucked into the heart of middle Nashville in the Overton Hills on 1160 Otter Creek Road, just eight miles south of downtown. Radnor Lake State Park is a 1,200 acre, Class II State Natural area and protected under the State Natural Areas Preservation Act of 1971. It's home to the 85-acre lake itself, 6 hiking trails, paved running trails, countless wildlife and a unique geology. The park is an amazing treasure and a wonderful place to spend the weekend on a hike, jogging along the paths, or taking part in some of the many programs put on by the staff.
Per the Tennessee state parks website, the park got its name and came into existence as described below:
"The 85-acre lake for which the site is named was impounded in 1914 by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company to furnish water for steam engines and livestock at nearby Radnor Yards. It was intended that the site would provide a private hunting and fishing preserve for L & N officials and their guests. Soon after construction of the lake, many birds discovered it and began to feed and rest there during their annual migration. In 1923, the executive vice-president of L & N stopped all hunting and declared the area a wildlife sanctuary at the request of the Tennessee Ornithological Society. In 1962, the area was purchased by a construction firm and plans were made to subdivide the property for a housing development. Shortly thereafter, public sentiment arose to preserve the area as a park. In 1973, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, with the financial assistance of the Federal Government and thousands of concerned citizens, purchased the Radnor site as the first official state natural area."
The park is open for hiking, jogging, and other visitor experiences from 6am until dark. As a designated state natural area, the park is closed after dark for all activities. Additionally, in order to not interfere with wildlife observation or the ecosystem, all the natural, unpaved trails are for hiking and walking only and no jogging or biking is allowed.
Hiking trails are a great way to see the park and come in numerous levels for beginners to experts. You can find easy, moderate, or strenuous trials to experience from the list below:
Spillway Trail (.27m) easy
Lake Trail (1.3m) easy
Ganier Ridge Trail (1.55m) strenuous
Access Trail (.24m) moderate
South Lake Trail (.9m) moderate
South Cove Trail (1.3m) strenuous
If you're looking to get out and jog or bike through the park, no worries. Take a spin on the 1.1 mile Otter Creek Road that spans the middle of the park.
To make it really easy to choose, check out the Radnor Lake State Park Trail Map.
If you're looking to take your experience up a notch, you can join the Nashville Hiking Meetup for one of their many scheduled hiking outings at the park. Check out their calendar for details on when they will be hosting hikes through Radnor Lake Park.
There is more to the park than simply hiking or jogging however. The park staff put on numerous programs throughout the year to help educate the public about the park's wildlife, geology, ecosystem or simply enjoy the lake itself. Park programs include wildflower walks, astronomy hikes at night, nature hikes to learn about all the wildlife in the park, programs on snakes and birds of prey, cave ecology programs, and, of course, from Memorial Day to Labor Day there are the Canoe Floats.
Radnor Lake Canoe Floats offer a truly unique way to experience the lake and the wildlife inside the park. Floats are offered in the morning and the afternoon (reservations are required and should be made early) and led by park rangers. Life jackets and canoes are provided so you can enjoy the lake and check out some of the park's resident otters, deer, beavers, turkeys and more.
Friends of Radnor Lake
One special, unique thing about Radnor Lake state park is that it has its own non-profit advocate, Friends of Radnor Lake, dedicated to "Protecting, preserving and promoting the natural integrity of Radnor Lake through land acquisition, environmental education and park support." Since its incorporation in 1973, Friends of Radnor Lake has worked to raise countless dollars to acquire additional tracts of land surrounding the park, as well as providing assistance for park programs, educational support and a junior ranger program. This great group works to protect one of Nashville's, and Tennessee's, great natural gems. For more information on Friends of Radnor Lake or to make a donation, check out their website. We are also proud that Friends of Radnor Lake is an ACTIVENOW Non-Profit partner. You can help support them and Radnor Lake by directing your donation to them after each purchase you make on ACTIVENOW!
With so many great places in Nashville to hike, relax or get back to nature, Radnor Lake State Park is one of our favorites. Let us know your favorite part of the park or your favorite park program!