Hubby and I recently returned to a trail we’ve hiked in the past, called the Bryant Grove Trail located in Long Hunter State Park near Nashville, Tennessee. It’s a good trail if you like solitude while hiking (we do) as it’s very lightly traveled. This there-and-back trail is an 8 mile hike if you choose to do the entire thing. It’s four miles in and four back out. The trail is labeled as a moderate hike but it’s very flat and not difficult at all. The trail surface changes from dirt, to rocky, to very rocky, which perhaps is why it is given the moderate status. That and the fact that eight miles is a long hike.
We’ve hiked this trail twice. The first time, we never passed another hiker. The second time we passed one nice man out for some solo hiking. We stopped and chatted with him awhile. Turns out he had done part of the trail the day before with his daughter and had returned on this particular day to hike the entire 8 miles. I like Bryant Grove because it’s like doing two different hikes. Part of it is shaded and goes deep into the woods. It also goes along the shore of Percy Priest Lake. It’s peaceful and beautiful and quiet as the trail twists and turns through the woods and there’s a few scattered wooden benches to rest along the way. We just about always see deer on this part of the trail. The other part of the trail takes you out in the open, through a not so attractive cedar glade.
The trail is nicely marked every half mile with wooden post markers.
There are signs warning that this is not a loop trail, but park rangers say you’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t heed the signs and don’t realize when they get to the end of the four miles, that they must now turn around and hike back another four miles to their vehicle. Surprise, surprise!!
Off to the right is an old decrepit stone wall with a rickety old barbed wire fence in places. I read in my book, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles Nashville, that in pre-park days, this area was used for livestock grazing.
The trail meanders by Percy Priest lake. Occasionally, you will spot a Great Blue Heron wading out in the water. It’s a very peaceful stretch of the trail.
Just past the halfway mark or the two mile marker is a wooden bridge that crosses over Bryant Creek. As you can see, the creek bed was dry due to lack of rain (Never thought I would be saying that after all the torrential rains and flooding we had back in February).
Towards the end of the trail, we entered the cedar glade. Not much to see here except a large open rocky area and of course lots of cedar trees. The soil here is not very rich and not much grows here. The cacti seem to like it as do the cedar trees. We saw a few turkey vultures circling overhead when we got to the open glade. Hope they weren’t looking for exhausted hikers!
You can see how very dry the ground is here towards the end of the hike. Dry, parched, cracked earth. Kinda makes you thirsty, huh?
At the end of the four miles is Bryant Grove Recreation Area which has restrooms, a picnic area with grills, a swimming beach, and a boat launch. Rest a while, eat a snack, get hydrated with a nice cool drink, and then turn around and head back out for the return four mile hike.
I will have to say, hiking the entire eight miles wears me out. Halfway back, hubby and I got pretty tired! My legs ached and the last two miles were exhausting. I’ll also mention that when we first did this hike a few years ago in the fall, it was quite littered from where the lake had flooded the woods. There was lake debris everywhere- plastic bottles, tires, and trash. It was a little disheartening. On our most recent hike, it was very clean.