Just outside Nashville, Timberland Park is on the Natchez Trace Parkway — and it’s definitely worth a visit!
Right past the Franklin/Hwy 96 exit on the Natchez Trace Parkway, you’ll find a place most Nashville locals still don’t know about: a densely wooded park, complete with a lovely interpretive center and more than three miles of hiking trails.
It’s called Timberland Park and it totally surpassed my expectations when the kids and I finally went for a hike there last week. The trails are comparable to the ones you’d find at Warner Park– but far less crowded.
The Interpretive Center doesn’t have much to offer beyond a park ranger who can answer your questions, comfortable rocking chairs, bathrooms, and some artifacts found on the property– but one thing your kids will LOVE is this bin filled with walking sticks made from the park’s fallen trees. You are welcome to check one out and take it on your walk- something both my children immediately took advantage of.
While you’re there, you’ll also want to take a picture with your phone of the trail map– They don’t have any paper maps to give out and the trails can be confusing once you’re on them. Fortunately, most trails go in a loop and those that don’t dead-end before too long– You can get completely lost and still end up right back where you started, since all trailheads begin in the park’s parking lot.
The history of this property is worth noting. This land was once used for logging — Trees were felled by hand and removed with mules and wagons. Many of the logs ended up being used to build Franklin’s historic homes. Once the logging operation closed, the state of Tennessee bought the land and held onto it until it was purchased by Williamson County Parks and Recreation. Timberland Park opened in late 2014. So far, 3.5 miles of trails have been cleared and more are still under construction.
On this hot summer day, we were pleased to find that it was nice and cool beneath the trees and there was very little underbrush– something I’ve come to appreciate now that we’re spending our summer hiking lesser-known trails!
The trails aren’t super long, but they do run up and down a ridge, so you’ll get a nice little workout while you’re on them. And since these trails don’t get a whole lot of visitors, you’ll instantly feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere– a very nice experience in comparison to the more populated trails of Warner Park and Radnor Lake. You can also expect to see some interesting sights.
While we were there, we spotted dozens of tiny toads on the trails. My daughter got this close-up picture of one of them.
The trees are majestic and add to the general sense of peace and seclusion.
The Park has even labeled some of them, which is helpful for people like me who are trying to learn to identify Tennessee’s trees.
We also spotted some very interesting mushrooms…
But my favorite sight was the elusive Scarlet Tanager, a bright red bird with black wings that’s often heard, but rarely seen since it likes to hang out in the forest canopy. We got to watch this bird up close for a good long while. Having trouble spotting it in this photo?
How about now?
Timberland Park is open April 1, 2016-October 31, 2016, Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m, Friday through Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. On Monday, July 4, 2016, the park will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Gates are locked at closing time until morning, so be sure you’re not out on the trail after-hours.
Print out a copy of the trail map here and bring it with you, or take a photo of the trail map inside the interpretive center before you hike.
They are building new trails now, so prepare for this park to get even better- but 3 1/2 miles of trails certainly isn’t a bad start! We can’t wait to go back.