Radnor Lake State Park is only 8 miles from downtown Nashville, but the sites and sounds of the city are completely hidden from this area. Located in the affluent Oak Hill neighborhood, this park is one of the best maintained in middle Tennessee. It’s also one of the best places to see wildlife. I’ve routinely seen deer, turkey, and even bald eagles.
There are multiple trails around the park, as well as a paved road on the south side of the lake. I’ve done all the trails multiple times since the park is so close to home.
My favorite combination of trails makes a big loop around the park, just short of 5 miles. I enter via Otter Creek Road off of Franklin Pike and park in the East Parking Area. Then I hike: Access Trail; right onto Ganier Ridge Trail; right at the junction with Lake Trail (follow the sign for West Parking Area, not Lake Trail); left onto the Dam Walkway; right onto Valve House Trail (out and back); left on the paved road; right onto South Cove Trail; right on the paved road; then back to the East Parking Area.
The terrain is easy. The trails are well-maintained and well-marked, I’ve never seen any litter, and even the brief climbs are relieved by switchbacks and steps in some areas. The closest to a moderate section is South Cove Trail. This is a fantastic trail for children and families; I’d also recommend it for individuals looking to hike more but may need to lose weight or build stamina. There are multiple benches along each section of trail, and all the sections are shaded.
There are a few downsides to the park. There are a lot of people there on the weekends, so you won’t see as much wildlife. There are always turtles sunning, and usually squirrels and chipmunks, but to see the deer and turkeys, you need to go into areas without so much noise. I love the Valve House Trail for this reason – today I was the only person on it, and I saw a flock of turkeys with their chicks crossing the stream.
There are also strict rules for the non-paved trails: no jogging or running; no pets on trail; no picnicking; no off-trail hiking.
Even with these restrictions, this park is still one of my favorite spots to get away to for just an hour or two to reconnect with nature.
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