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6 Scenic Trails in Middle Tennessee (with Lunch Nearby)

Think you can only find beautiful hiking vistas in East Tennessee? Granted, you won’t find mountain-peak views, but Middle Tennessee has plenty of hills, creeks and woods to give you a challenging hike or scenic family stroll. Explore these options in the natural beauty of Clarksville, 40 minutes northwest of Nashville along I-24.

  1. Dunbar Cave State Park

Dunbar Cave is one of Clarksville’s most popular outdoor spots. This 144-acre natural playground includes almost four miles of hiking trails, picnic areas, wildlife, and a newly updated Visitor Center. With the addition of a bridge across the lake, you can loop around the cave entrance, over the water, and up and down hills to your heart’s content. Seasonal guided cave tours highlight prehistoric Mississippian Native American cave art dating to the 14th century.

Nearby Brunch/ Lunch: With a 5-minute drive, you’ll enjoy the Looking Glass Restaurant and Bakery with divine pastries or beautifully presented entrees.


  1. The Clarksville Greenway

Abandon the hurries of the city at the Clarksville Greenway. This 9-mile (but ever expanding) paved trail along the Red River and West Fork Creek is a scenic spot with multiple entrance points that includes both hills and flat sections. See native species of plants and animals, bluff walls, tree canopies, overlooks, and a 600-foot pedestrian bridge. Rent a B-Cycle or bring your own — the flat paved sections are great for little ones still learning.

Nearby Lunch: La Casa Taqueria is a low-key spot for classic Mexican fare, including all-day breakfast, beer and cocktails.


  1. Rotary Park

Find six miles of hilly hiking at Rotary Park, a 111-acre natural area with, a creek, picnic areas, disc golf course and an ADA accessible playground. Trails are mostly wooded with plenty of wildflowers, and the winding wide creek makes the area particularly scenic (plus it’s a fun way to cool down!) If you go early morning, know that trails are shared with mountain bikers.

Nearby Breakfast/Lunch: The Choppin’ Block is a butcher, deli, and restaurant less than one mile away. Relish a true southern experience with homemade biscuits or pick up take-aways from the deli for a picnic!


  1. Billy Dunlop Park

The Red River wraps around the 30-acre Billy Dunlop Park. Fish, swim, launch a kayak, picnic or enjoy a 2.2-mile walking trail in the tranquil setting. A picturesque bridge over the river is a highlight.

Nearby Lunch: About 4-miles away you’ll be near Exit 1 off I-24. Smokin Chikin serves mouth-watering roasted chicken with marinade options using spices from around the globe, plus delectable homemade sides.


  1. Cumberland RiverWalk

Walking or hiking by water is the best! Clarksville’s RiverWalk is scenic, interesting, and popular along the spectacular Cumberland River. The Cumberland RiverWalk is a one-mile promenade with a new extension that connects it to the Red River Bridge. Make time to enjoy the playground at McGregor Park and the As the River Flows interpretive center.

Nearby Lunch: Head uptown to Strawberry Alley Ale Works for Potato Chip Nachos or Blackhorse Pub & Brewery for a Flatbread Pizza.


  1. Upland Trail

Hiking in nature with woods is loads of fun, but urban hiking can be just as adventurous. The Upland Trail is still a well-kept secret that connects the Cumberland RiverWalk to downtown and Valley Brook Park via a Pedestrian Overpass. The Upland Trail is a system of extensions and spurs so you can start and stop at any number of places. You’ll see public art, historic buildings, cross a railroad trestle and explore for about five miles if you adjoin the RiverWalk to its end.

Nearby Lunch: Hot Pita serves fresh breakfast, lunch and dinner with a make-it-your-way mindset. Yada Deli creates hot and iced coffees, fresh-fruit smoothies, along with an array of sandwiches, salads and pastas.

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