One of the glorious things about Nashville is the fact that if you drive about 30 minutes in any direction, you are in the capital-C countryside. Like, watch-out-for-wild-animals, no-houses-for-a-mile, hope-you-don’t-get-a-flat kind of country. That said, if you like your nature a little more on the beaten path, you have options there, too.
Radnor Lake is a 1,300-acre state park tucked away in an otherwise urban area—its a favorite of Nashvillians for its hiking trails, wildlife viewing, and bird watching. Located in an even more urban setting is Shelby Bottoms Nature Center and Greenway in East Nashville, featuring that icon of Instagram shots area-wide, the super-elevated train trestle.
Hiking trails and marshland and riverside rambles await you in the Bottoms, tucked in and around residential neighborhoods on the banks of the Cumberland River. Speaking of the Cumberland, there’s Cumberland Park, located near the pedestrian bridge and Nissan Stadium in downtown Nashville. You’re not likely to see any deer, per se, but it’s a great place to get some sun or have a picnic, and the views of the river and downtown skyline can’t be beat.
If you prefer your outdoor areas really untouched, consider Bells Bend Park, located in western Davidson County. Some 800 acres in total, Bells Bend opened in 2007 and is a favorite of plant and wildlife enthusiasts. Bells Bend offers fewer trails and such but plenty of outdoor education and instruction opportunities. If it’s water you’re into, Percy Priest Lake is your one-stop shop, offering fishing, camping, boating, and more. Located only a brief hop, skip, and jump outside of the city limits, you’ll nonetheless feel like you’ve gone on vacation. It can get crowded on weekends, but the scenery is just the same on weekdays and in the offseason, and you’ll have it more or less to yourself.