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long exposure shot of a waterfall at Harpeth River State Park

Running along the Harpeth River, this Tennessee state park is scattered in 10 different locations. It basically offers you a variety of locations and activities for your weekend getaway. This linear park offers its visitors canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, and picnicking, about 30 miles west of Nashville. All with stunning views of nature everywhere your eyes can see.

If you were looking for time in nature, this park should be in your outdoor plans. Come here for a hike through the woods as you view beautiful wildflowers. Hot summers see this park packed with fans of paddling who are excited to put their canoes and kayaks into the water.

The park has three very popular locations; Mound Bottom, Narrows of Harpeth, and Newsom’s Mill.

Mound Bottom

It is believed that a long time ago, Native Americans built mounds where they buried people. Important people would be buried with sacred tools, pottery, and weapons. One such mound is in Harpeth River State Park, Mound Bottom.

Archeologists believe Mound Bottom is part of the large Mississippian Period Indian Mound Complex. They estimate that Mound Bottom was built and used between 700 and 1300 AD.

Access to the Mound is strictly through a ranger-led tour between October and March. This site is so calming which is why it’s popular. It’s incredible to imagine that once upon a time there was a town here.

Narrows of the Harpeth

This is the most popular place to visit in Harpeth River State Park. It is near Mound Bottom where the Harpeth River comes to about a few hundred feet, seven miles downstream. The ox-bow style bend of the Narrows of the Harpeth provides both upstream and downstream access. The two sides of the Narrows of Harpeth are separated by a tunnel that is considered one of the greatest feats of engineering. The tunnel was dug in 1818 by Montgomery Bell, a businessman with the use of slave labor.

There’s so much to see at the Narrows of the Harpeth so it is a must-visit. A walk down wooden stairs will give you access to the tunnel from the upper side. You will see clearly why this 100-yard historic tunnel is an industrial landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.

Next, prepare for the well-worth steep climb on the short trail that will take you to the overlook. Due to the ox-bow bend of the Narrows of the Harpeth, when you look to the left, the Harpeth River will be flowing away from the Narrows. However, a look to the right of the trail will show you the Harpeth River flowing back towards the Narrows of the Harpeth. Don’t miss this visual experience on your visit to the state park.

Finish off your visit to the Narrows with a visit to the site of Montgomery Bell’s old Pattison Forge. There is a beautiful waterfall and a pool left of the site that once ran an iron forge operation.

Newsom’s Mill

This is a site you will enjoy visiting. This mill is one of Middle Tennessee’s first mills created by Francis Newsom. This meal was powered by water long before the steam engine arrived. Newsom’s first mill was flooded in 1808 so he moved it downstream. The foundation that dates back to 1862 is still standing. This site will also offer beautiful sights of another part of the Harpeth River State Park.

The frame of the mill is still intact which is a remarkable feat. Newsom’s mill has one of the world’s rarest intersections. A river, a road, a railroad, a power line, and an interstate all converge to create a historic site.

Hidden Lake

This is a natural paradise at Harpeth River State Park that features majestic bluffs, hiking trails, and abundant wildlife. Take the one-mile trail that meanders through a wildflower meadow for some stunning sights. Or you could take the half-mile trail that runs through the forest, following the imposing bluffs to a small lake. After that, you can continue on an on-mile spur trail that ascends to the top of a ridge with the remains of a 1940s resort where all that’s left is an old marble dance floor.

Gossett Tract

This is a two-mile loop running through open fields. It’s ideal for birding and later summer wildflower hikes. This tract is located off Cedar Hill Road near Scott’s Cemetery.

A canoe is the best way to explore Harpeth River, State Park. There are plenty of places to rent at the park where Highway 70 crosses Cedar Hill Road. So put on a life jacket and float down Harpeth River for the best outdoor experience and we know you will love it!

Activities

As the name suggests, this park is teeming with water-related activities such as kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.

Hikers will also enjoy exploring several trails and get rewarded with breathtaking views from overlooks along the trails. The park also provides picnic spaces with grills and tables.

Picnicking

There are picnic areas at Harris Street Bridge Access Area, Newsom Mills Historic Site, and The Gossett Tract. All the picnic areas are equipped with tables and grills. Please note that restroom facilities, park office, or visitor center are not available at all locations currently. Handicap accessibility and parking are also limited at all locations.

Boating

Boating is highly recommended in Harpeth River State Park. The best way to experience the park is to navigate using a boat, canoe, or kayak.

Harpeth River park has canoe put-in and takeout points which can be found in close proximity to each other. Float down Harpeth River following a 7-mile loop meander. It is an experience of a lifetime. You will be rewarded with spectacular views of majestic bluffs, serene waters, and beautiful green woodlands.

There are canoe access sites in all areas except for the archeological areas. You can bring your own canoe or kayak or find rentals offered by the local commercial outfitters. Boating access points are at;

  • U.S Highway 100 Bridge
  • 1862 Newsom’s Mill ruins
  • McCrory Lane Bridge at Hidden Lake
  • Narrows of the Harpeth provide both downstream and upstream access

Hiking

There are several trails in the Harpeth River State spread in different locations. There are three trails at the Narrows of the Harpeth with a common trailhead near the park entrance. Catch a panoramic view of the Harpeth Valley at an overlook on a half-mile bluff trail.

Hikers can also take the half-mile trails that run along the backside of the limestone bluff leading to the site of Montgomery Bell’s Pattison Forge. Here you will find a small waterfall. At the Harris Street Bridge Access Area, there is a half-mile trail connecting the canoe launch area to the canoe take-out parking area.

Gossett Tract has two trails with one mile circling a meadow while another one-mile wind along the river offering a glimpse of the Mound Bottom. The hidden lake has a one-mile trail that meanders around and thyroid a meadow of wildflowers.

There is another trail that is a half-mile running through the first and along the majestic bluffs to a small lake.

The trail continues to the top of the ridge to the remains of the 1940s resort. Below are the trails in Harpeth River State Park;

  • Gossett Tract Trail: It’s approximately 2 miles and is made of grass and natural surface. It is considered an easy trail.
  • Hidden Lakes Trail: This 3 miles trail takes you to the small hidden lake. It meanders through and along a wildflower meadow. It is made of a natural surface and is classified as moderate.
  • Narrows trail: This is a 1-mile trail found at the Narrows of Harpeth. It is a moderate trail that’s made of natural surface. Some areas include a steep climb.
  • Newsom Mill Fisherman Trail: This is a 0.2 miles trail that leads hikers to the site of one of Tennessee’s early water-powered mills. The trail is easy and made of a natural surface.
  • Mace Bluff Trail: This 0.2 miles trail is difficult since it includes some steep climbs of the bluffs. It is made of a natural surface.

Fishing

Fishing at Harpeth River State Park is an incredible experience. Fishing enthusiasts have a large expanse of the river to explore. Harpeth River is teeming with largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, bream, channel fish, and bluegill among other game fish.

Remember to get a fishing license before you get to the park.

Birding

The old fields at Gossett Tract which contain two-mile trails provide a great opportunity to observe northern bobwhite, field sparrow, and the American goldfinch. In mid to late summer, you can spot songbirds feeding on the numerous field flowers and insects.

Interpretive Programs

The park has self-guided interpretive signs at most of its sights. It also provides guided tours of the Narrows, Newsoms Mill, and Hidden lake throughout the year. Be sure to make a reservation beforehand.

1254 Narrows of the Harpeth Rd, Kingston Springs, TN 37082

Park Location

Harpeth River State Park
1254 Narrows of the Harpeth Rd,
Kingston Springs, TN 37082
Phone: 615.952.2099

Park Website
Reservations

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Harpeth River State Park: