Saturday, March 15, 2014

hiking Long Hunter State Park, TN

So this is how we spent last Saturday - and I couldn't have been happier! The weather was gorgeous and there were views of water nearly the entire time hiked. It was a great time with good friends.

Long Hunter State Park can be found in southeast Davidson County, TN and the water views are frequently of Percy Priest Lake. It feels quite removed from the buzz of downtown, unlike Percy Warner or Radnor Lake parks. 

We walked the Couchville Lake Trail first. It is probably the most popular and well known accessible from the main park entrance. No need to stop at the welcome center, since there will be trail maps available where you park. It is an easy paved trail, with excellent parking, bathrooms, picnic tables, and a dock. We saw numerous people kayaking or in general out on the placid Couchville Lake. 

As you can see, spring hasn't produced any trees budding yet, but I read that this trail has excellent dogwood trees. However, the pro to going when it is wintry are unobstructed water views the entire way. This trail is actually an arboretum trail, and labels several of the tree types for you. It is a very easy trail that would be perfect for wheelchair or stroller access. It is a distance of approximately 2 miles with negligible elevation gain. However I should note that this particular trail is not available for dog, bike, or rollerskate access.

Next we hiked the Day Loop Trail section (marked with orange) of the Volunteer Trail (marked white), which has very limited parking availability. I would suggest that you choose cautiously the street parking you choose as well, since one of the home owners is adamant that hikers will not park in front of her house. The day we visited she actually was just camped out on her front porch reading and scaring people away. Now I completely get and can appreciate as a homeowner the desire to have your privacy and home respected; however how sad is it that at least a quarter of your weekends are spent in such conflict.
But I digress... back to the trail, as it was well worth the trip!

I think that this may actually be one of my favorite day trip hikes that we have ever taken in the middle tennessee area. Obviously there were a lot of amazing choices when we lived in Knoxville, but we have missed that since moving back to middle TN.
It is a packed dirt trail that is approximately a 4 mile loop, with very minimal elevation gain as well. It took us approximately a couple of hours to complete, making a new record of 23 minutes/mile.

You could potentially hike a further distance and follow the Volunteer Trail on to an overnight camp site. This trail affords views of Percy Priest Lake for a good portion of the hike. Also, notably dogs are allowed on this trail, unlike the Couchville Lake Trail, and we saw several.

Unfortunately, since we were traveling from the north side of Nashville, our closest eating options were in the hermitage area, which is primarily composed of chain restaurants. We ended up getting bbq (boys and their obsessions) at Famous Daves, which while enjoyable doesn't really feel worth reporting about.

*Side note* we are loving the map my hike app! It not only tracks your distance, time, and calories, but also shows you maps of where you have walked and maps of your elevation gain. You should see the one for the hike we did in Acadia (discussed here)! It looks like a capital letter M for elevation gain and needless to say, I felt part goat that day lol.

Map My Hike-Day Loop Trail - see here
                      -Couchville Lake Trail - see here