|Elevation Gain||420 ft|
|My Time||2 hr 2 min|
|Difficulty||Easy to Moderate*|
Radnor Lake State Park
Radnor Lake Natural Area, also known as Radnor Lake State Park has 6 separate hiking trails along with lake views, a visitor center with informational videos, maps, and displays, and a chance to see wildlife. There are activities for every skill level at the park.
The Radnor Lake hikes begin at the visitor center. You have the option of taking the nature trail towards the lake and the north side of or the paved road that will take you to the south side. While you are there make sure to check out the visitor center. It is one of the best one that I have seen and I have been to quite a few parks.
I started on the nature trail which took me to the north side of the lake and towards the Grainer Ridge Trail.
Radnor Lake Loop
From the natural trail it is a quick third of a mile of pristine trail before you see the lake. In the first third of a mile you do get to see a bit of Otter Creek in this first stretch as well. When you reach the lake you have a chance to walk across the dam or continue on with the trail. The lake is beautiful here and there are a couple of small viewing areas set up with some benches.
For about the next half mile the trail will hug the lakeside and allow for some great views. The trail stays mostly flat except for a short 7% grade around the one mile mark. Just after this small incline is where you will come to a small junction where the Lake Loop trail and Grainer Ridge Trail will merge. If you continue on the Lake trail for the loop you will have a half mile of lakeside walking until you connect to Otter Creek Road to continue the loop around the lake.
I was hiking with my mom and she was determined to climb the ridgeline that she referred to as “Mt. Everest” so we headed down the Grainer Ridge Trail.
Grainer Ridge Trail
Our trek towards the “Everest of Ridgelines” began by heading northeast away from the Radnor Lake Trail. I really enjoyed this part of the trail as it took us through the woods that had just shed their leaves. The trail got a little hard to follow on this fall day with so many leaves on the ground but we made it.
The first half of a mile of the trail is really easy through the woods but then comes the hill that is unofficially called “My Mom’s Middle Tennessee Mt. Everest”. The hill has several switchbacks and will take you up about 120 feet in elevation over four tenths of a mile. There is also a 15% grade max on the incline so it is a moderate ascent.
The top of the ridge is really nice and flattens out for a nice ridgeline walk of about a half mile. The views from the top are nice although they are a bit obstructed by trees if you stay on the path.
After the half mile on the top of the ridge it is time to come back down. The return on the southern side of the ridge is very similar to the incline on the northern side. There are a few switchbacks and the grade tops off at about 15%. Mom found hiking poles very useful on the way both up and down to deal with the slick leaves on the trail.
Wildlife at Radnor Lake State Park
At the bottom of the hill you can reconnect with the Radnor Lake Trail and head south to find Otter Creek Road and complete the loop. This is also where we saw a rafter of what I am pretty sure was wild turkeys. And yes, I did have to look up the word rafter.
Otter Creek Road
The finish of the loop is on Otter Creek Road which is a paved road. While this is a fairly straight forward road hike there are a few things to point out. First off is that the South Cove Trail and South Lake Trail connect to the road as well. There were a lot of stairs to get onto the South Cove Trail and after scaling Everest that was a tall task so we just took the road back.
The second thing to point out on this side of the trail is that it had some of my favorite views of Radnor lake. There are a couple of spots designated for views but the entire section was really pretty to me. I really enjoyed this even though it was on a road and not a trail.
Whether you are looking for a quick trip around the lake or a little bit more of an effort with one of the side trails, Radnor Lake State Park has plenty to offer.
Video of Radnor Lake State Park
I have put together a couple of videos of the hike. This first one is more of a narrative version of the hike:
Next up is a raw, time-lapse version of the hike that I like to call the hikers edit. The hikers edit is to give you a feel of what the trail itself looks like. If you enjoy either of these videos I would love it if you subscribe to my YouTube channel. It is free to subscribe and you will get notified when I upload new content.
Distance and Elevation
If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 4.31 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 420 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 1,110 feet. I was also moving for a total of 2 hours and 2 minutes.
Radnor Lake State Park has a couple of effort options. If you just take the lake walk it is an easier well maintained trail. If you decide to hike up the ridgeline the hike takes on a more moderate effort. I did not take the South Cove loop but it had a series of stairs that seemed like it would have a moderate effort level.
The trails were all well established and easy to follow. There were a few rocks and roots to deal with but the trail is mostly easy to manage. Heading up to the ridgeline gets a little rocky in a few places.
Radnor State Park is part of the Tennessee State Park System. There is currently no fee to enter the park. Parking and restrooms are available at the welcome center which are open from 9:30-6pm Thursday-Monday. The visitor center is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Radnor Lake State Park opens at 6am and is open until 20 minutes after sunset.
The park can be found at 1160 Otter Creek Road, Nashville, TN 37220 near the Brentwood area. One note, Pets, Jogging and bikes are not allowed on the trails.
Wrapping up Radnor Lake State Park
I really enjoyed my hike at Radnor Lake State Park. The lake is absolutely stunning and the trail around it is pretty simple. If you are looking to get a bit of a better workout you can always try one of the ridgeline hills. Otherwise it is a nice relaxing walk along the lake with amazing views especially in the fall with the changing colors and a calm lake.
I have added this hike and all of my hikes to my interactive map page that you can find here. If you have a suggestion or comment you can email me at email@example.com or follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!