Tucked away in a quiet Nashville neighborhood is a stunning surprise– the West Meade Waterfall. And it’s yours to explore!
I’d heard the legend of the West Meade Waterfall for some time and never knew whether to believe it. I mean, how could there possibly be an honest-to-god waterfall in Nashville without a thousand Instagram pictures of hipsters posing in front of it?
Last week, I finally found an opportunity to see this so-called waterfall for myself. Armed with only a street address (402 Hathaway Court) and the confirmed knowledge that the property is now publicly owned and my kids and I wouldn’t be shot by some bow tie-wearing West Meade dandy exercising ‘vigilante justice’ with his granddaddy’s Winchester, I put the kids in the car and drove into the heart of West Meade to discover the truth about this tantalizing Nashville secret.
I’d read that a pathway led to the waterfall, and as I drove down West Meade’s park-like residential streets, it seemed likely that this path would run between two houses. I wondered whether I’d be able to even find the path without stumbling into someone’s well-manicured backyard and inadvertently getting shot by that aforementioned bow-tied dandy. Suddenly, TLC came to mind. “Don’t go chasin’ waterfalls,” Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopez sang sternly, wagging a cautionary finger at me.
For the first time ever, I understood exactly what she was talking about.
“Don’t worry, Left Eye,” I murmured under my breath, “It’s going to be okay. If things look weird, we won’t get out of the car.”
“Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to,” she begged.
“I won’t!” I shouted.
“Mom?” my daughter asked beside me. “Are you okay?”
I laughed weakly. “Of course, honey. Just help me find Hathaway Court.”
As we neared our destination, the rolling lawns changed abruptly to steep ridges and the hardwoods multiplied. We turned onto Hathaway Court and suddenly found ourselves in a cul-de-sac surrounded by a forest, with trees that looked to be well over a hundred years old. Only one house was on this street– It was clearly unoccupied, the lawn overgrown. At the end of the cul-de-sac, there was indeed a path that led to a cascade of rocks.
We parked and walked up the path. On this day, the waterfall was more of a watertrickle.
However, the waterfall’s starting point was at the top of a steep ridge, a good distance above us. I could imagine that after a rainfall, this waterfall would be quite impressive. Photos I later found online verified my guess.
This is the West Meade Waterfall the morning after a storm. Pretty impressive, yes? Even better, the changing seasons give this waterfall a completely different look.
Without all the greenery, the falls are much more visible in the … fall. Heh.
And in winter as the snow begins to melt, it’s absolutely breathtaking.
Let the Instagramming begin!
Even on the day we visited, my daughter proclaimed that the West Meade Waterfall was totally worth the trip. The forest surrounding it is pristine, the trickling water is beautiful, and the creek the waterfall feeds is crystal clear and shallow and perfect for small children to play in without getting too dirty. In fact, Metro Water Services tested this water and found it to be the cleanest of any headwater springs tested in Nashville!
“Does that mean we can drink it?” my son asked excitedly.
“No,” I said quickly. “Absolutely not.”
The West Meade Waterfall is part of a nearly 4-acre parcel of land bought by the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation back in 2014. Plans exist to eventually turn the land into a ‘pocket park,’ which will be managed by Metro. This property is also part of a larger plan to create an ecological corridor that would run from Radnor Lake all the way to Beaman Park. There is basically an arc of undeveloped land surrounding Nashville that includes Radnor Lake, Warner Park, Bells Bend Park, Beaman Park, as well as private property. Conservancy groups are trying to buy the surrounding land as it comes up for sale — If they’re successful, it would eventually be possible to hike or bike from Radnor Lake all the way to Beaman Park!
In the meantime, the West Meade Waterfall is a fun place to stop off for a few minutes if you’re in the area, and a neat destination to surprise your kids with in the summertime. If they’re older, you might want to scramble up the steep dirt path beside the waterfall.
At the top of the ridge, you’ll find a portion of the original wall that once surrounded the Belle Meade Farm. The farm was eventually split between two sisters, heirs of General William G. Harding– One remained at the Belle Meade Plantation, the other built the beautiful West Meade Mansion in 1886.
There’s also lots of wildlife in and around the creek, much of it documented on the West Meade Naturalist website, which has all kinds of interesting information about the West Meade Waterfall and the surrounding area. If you’re taking your kids to see the waterfall, be sure and check out this website before you go so that you have background information on what you’ll be seeing. In the short time we were there, I was thrilled to spot two pileated woodpeckers scuffling in the treetops. They have a very distinctive call, so it’s always fun to see and hear them.
I’m definitely planning on checking out the waterfall again after a big rain- It could be a great spot for pictures if your timing is right, and since you can see the waterfall from the road, it’s an easy check if you’re in the area.
Got any more West Meade Waterfall thoughts? Let me know in the comments!