Five places where you can feel one with nature this spring

Break out of the Vanderbubble and check out some of these hikes in Nashville


Lauren Martinez

Sometimes it can feel like Vanderbilt’s campus is its own little bubble in Nashville. Other times, it can feel like Nashville is its own little bubble, too. With the weather getting increasingly more beautiful as spring approaches, here are some ways to escape the bubbles we live in and explore the outdoors right around the corner.

Radnor Lake State Park
Distance from campus: 5.9 miles, about a 14 minute drive

With ten trails that span six miles, Radnor Lake State Park is the perfect spot to commune with nature for a hike, bike, jog or even a leisurely walk with a pet. The park’s main attraction is Radnor Lake, located in the middle of the park. The park’s event schedule features lots of activities ranging from canoe floats to ranger-led hikes. Radnor Lake State Park is only open during the day, so if you want to try out a different scene for your daily run or challenge yourself to a hike, hit up this park on a sunny spring afternoon.


Percy and Edwin Warner Parks
Distance from campus: 6 miles, or an 18 minute drive

While Percy Warner Park is a campus favorite, it’s easy to forget that the neighboring Edwin Warner Park also has so many outdoor activities to offer. At Percy Warner Park, the bigger of the two, there are equestrian and hiking trails as well as two golf courses and picnic areas. Edwin Warner Park has more hiking trails, a dog park and picnic areas as well. Between the two parks, there are 16.75 miles of hiking trails, from cross country style running trails to paved paths. There are landmarks along the way, including a WWI memorial, as well as ropes courses, scenic drives and multipurpose fields. Overall, almost every type of outdoor activity you can imagine can be found in one of the two Warner Parks. Between the activity options, stunning landscape and proximity to campus, the Warner Parks offer a welcome escape.


Richland Creek Greenway
Distance from campus: 4.2 miles, or an 11 minute drive

This unique find is a greenway, which acts as a connection between the towns of Sylvan Park and Cherokee Park. Richland Creek Greenway consists of two different trails: England Park and McCabe Loop. The McCabe Loop is the longer of the two at about 3.8 miles long, and is a paved trail which loops around a golf course. The England Park trail, on the other hand, is only 0.47 miles long but is paved as well.

I went to this park on a nice day and walked along the McCabe Loop. It took me about 50 minutes to do it, but there was a variety of scenery to keep it interesting. This park is definitely in a less secluded area than the other parks, as you can see houses and the golf course for the majority of the trail. But at other points, I was walking across bridges that crossed over the creek, and it felt super woodsy. Since the path was paved, I was never confused on where to go. I passed so many people either walking with friends, walking a dog, riding a bike or going for a run, and it felt very safe. There also were benches to sit along the way and an outdoor gym. The only thing I would warn you about this park is that since it is paved and in a residential area, you aren’t going to get a true hiking experience out of it. It feels more like a park than a woodsy trail, and there are some points where you are walking next to the street. But if you are looking for a nice place for a run or a casual walk, the McCabe Loop could work for you.


Shelby Park
Distance from campus: 4.7 miles, about a 13 minute drive

Shelby Park lies right along the Cumberland River in East Nashville, so it is a really beautiful and relaxing way to take in the view. There are relaxing and flat walking and cycling trails and some wooded paths if you’re in the mood for more of a hike. With the river next to the park, there are so many things to do besides the typical bike ride, walk or run. There are playgrounds, golf courses, picnic areas, a dog park, baseball fields and fishing areas—even a boat ramp! What is awesome about this park is that it is urban but still feels different than the city. There is a pedestrian suspension bridge and elevated train tracks which have a super cool aesthetic. Overall, this park is accessible and can give you some good photo opportunities after a run.


Long Hunter State Park
Distance from campus: 24 miles, or a 29 minute drive

Although this park in Hermitage, TN is the farthest away from campus, it boasts 20 miles of trails all separated into four sections: Couchville, Baker’s Grove, Bryant Grove and Sellars Farm. Long Hunter State Park is located near the J. Percy Priest Lake, so there are easy trails that line the water. There is also an arboretum trail and other more challenging trails that go through the woods. For this reason, the park has its own app that you can use to track where you are while you’re hiking in the woods. With the lake so accessible, you can boat in the Couchville section or swim in Bryant Grove. Bryant Grove also has the bike trail. Between the four sections, there are opportunities to fish, boat, camp and even just explore the wildlife. Long Hunter State Park is enormous and has something for everyone.