One of my goals for this year is to visit as many State Parks/Wilderness Areas/Waterfalls as possible. Tennessee is so beautiful and there are so many places within reasonable driving distance to explore!
Harpeth River State Park was first on my list, I couldn't believe how close it was!
Just a tip from a friend - don't go to the first address that will likely come up on your google maps search, which is 7701 Hwy 100, Nashville, TN 37221. A 'friend' I know arrived there and could not find any hiking trails. In my, I mean my friend's, defense, the website was a little bit confusing. I rechecked this several times, especially after I saw photos others had posted of high cliffs and a waterfall. That address is the first river access point. My suspicions had been correct.
Harpeth River State Park follows the river, so there are several parks and stopping points along the way.
The next closest stop was Hidden Lake, only about 7 miles/15 minutes away from where I was. (Spoiler Alert: There were no waterfalls at this stopping point.)
Hidden Lake - 7851 McCrory Lane, Nashville, TN 37221
When you arrive at Hidden Lake, you will find a bulletin board with two maps of the trails. Unfortunately, the trails are not marked except for two signs well into the the trails. We just picked one and were on our way.
My favorite part of the trails at Hidden Lake were how wide and shaded they were, it had to be at least 20 degrees cooler under the trees.
Along the trail you will find a cement building with several rooms, a rusting washing machine and sink in the back of the house. You will also find a marble dance floor once used for moonlight dances, and a fuel tank that looks suspiciously like a submarine.
Hidden Lake was originally formed by a quarry. In the 1920's it was turned into a summer resort, the lake was cemented to be used as a swimming pool. Headlines boasted that Hidden Lake was the world's most beautiful swimming pool.
I've read conflicting reports on what led to the resorts closing, one says that the resort closed once World War II started because all of the boys were drafted into service. Another one said that there was a fire and the resort never reopened. The land was purchased by the state of Tennessee in 1992.
Hidden Lake is the most desolate public park area I've experienced in Tennessee so far. There were two or three trails that we decided not to venture down/up due to fallen trees or tree overgrowth, which made things quite narrow. In both cases, the trails were quite steep and windy, and we could not see where they would end up. Since it was just us, and no one knew we were headed out there, we turned around just to play it safe. (Also if I'm being completely honest, the spider webs I unknowingly walked into had a big part in my decision to turn around.)
We did pass two other people, and then one more person was just starting on the trail when we left. This was refreshing! As much as I love Radnor Lake and Percy Warner, there were no loud talkers or slow occupied walkers who were hard to pass.
Don't get me wrong, I don't mind sharing the trails, but it was nice to have a somewhat uninterrupted conversation and to relish the quiet of the area.
I can't say this is my most favorite park in Tennessee, but I think it would be perfect for families and a great place to take kids. The trails are pretty short, I think we did all of them and only walked a total of 3 miles. There are fun historical relics to explore, and great spots to stop and look at the lake.
I suspect this is the perfect place to hike in the Fall and Winter seasons, when many of the leaves have fallen and you can see directly into and across the lake.
If you end up exploring at Hidden Lake, let me know how you liked it! Also, no matter where you live around the world, I would love to hear what your favorite places to hike and explore are! Leave me a comment below! Or, make sure you're following me on Instagram @corrielanderson, post a photo of your favorite place and tag me! I will add your suggestions to my growing list of future explorations!