20 Tennessee State Parks

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Tennessee has 56 state parks dotted across the state, all of which have their own unique features. Tennessee is often famed for its music legends like Tina Turner and Dolly Parton, but its natural landscapes are equally as impressive.

Tennessee is well known as one of two U.S. states that is home to the Great Smoky Mountains. Though this is one of the most celebrated and visited national parks in the country, if you are looking for something a little quieter but still impressive, check out Tennessee’s state parks.

Tennessee State Parks

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20 State Parks In Tennessee

1- Chickasaw State Park

The Chickasaw State Park is in western Tennessee, around an hour and a half drive northeast of Memphis.

Chickasaw State Park is named after the Native American Chickasaw Tribe.

The Chickasaw Tribe once lived in Western Tennessee and Northern Mississippi.

This park is 1,400 acres on some of the highest mountains in western Tennessee.

This park is the perfect outdoor escape with plenty of fun.

More than four miles of easy and moderate hiking and biking trails exist.

The park is also on Lake Placid, so you can rent pedal boats and explore the water.

There is also a campsite with primitive and RV options.

For something a bit cozier and more luxurious, book one of the 13 cabins surrounded by pines with easy accessibility to Lake Placid.

Chickasaw State Park is at 20 Cabin Ln #4128, Henderson, TN 38340.

2- Rock Island State Park

This state park is at the confluence of the Collins, Caney Fork and Rocky Rivers around 85 miles southwest of Nashville.

The park is best known for the Caney Fork River Gorge and its geological formation provides visitors with an excellent place to go hiking and enjoy nature.

Two of the most beautiful spots in the park are Great Falls and Twin Falls.

Great Falls is 30 feet and located at the bottom of a 19th-century textile cotton mill.

The overlook at Historic Cotton Mill is the best place to view the falls.

You can view Twin Falls by hiking the Downstream Trail or the car park at the end of Power House Road.

As well as the falls you can go boating and paddling, though only in certain areas of the park because the current is quite strong.

There’s a great natural sand beach called “The Swim Beach” where swimming is allowed.

Rock Island State Park is at 82 Beach Rd, Rock Island, TN 38581.

3- Bledsoe Creek State Park

Around 45 minutes’ drive northeast of Nashville is Bledsoe Creek State Park.

The land that Bledsoe Creek is set on was once the hunting ground of the Cherokee, Creek, Shawnee and Chickamauga tribes.

This state park dates back to 1973, when it turned from a territory to a state park.

Some of the best activities in this Tennesse state park are hiking, fishing, boating and birding.

You can enjoy the scenery of Old Hickory Lake and fishing to your heart’s content.

Bird enthusiasts enjoy watching waders and waterfowl; you will hear some nesting songbirds too.

There are also some excellent ranger programs at Bledsoe Creek Lake State Park for the little ones.

You can enjoy the ranger classroom program and a custom program if you organize in advance.

Bledsoe Creek State Park is at 400 Zieglers Fort Rd, Gallatin, TN 37066. 

4- Burgess Falls State Park

state parks in tennessee: aerial view of burgess falls
One of the best Tennessee state parks to visit in Burgess Falls State Park.

Burgess Falls State Park is around an hour and 20 minutes drive east of Nashville.

The park is situated on the Falling Water River.

This is another state park in Tennessee which is known for its waterfalls.

Four waterfalls are 250 feet high.

The land the park is situated on was formerly populated by the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Creek tribes.

By the late 19th century, a gristmill and sawmill were built on the land and started operating on the river.

From 1928 to 1944, the Falling Water River provided hydroelectric power for the city of Cookeville.

The park has two main trails: River Trail and Ridge Top Trail.

The latter is one of the best trails for viewing the canyon and the Falling Water River.

Burgess Falls State Park is at 4000 Burgess Falls Dr, Sparta, TN 38583.

5- Edgar Evins State Park

This Tennessee state park is on Center Hill Lake in the Eastern Highland Rim, around 75 miles east of Nashville.

This 6,000-acre state park is the perfect place for recreational fun.

There’s the Edgar Evins marina where you can launch your boat or you can rent them from the marina throughout the year.

Center Hill Lake is an 18,000-acre (7284 ha) reservoir of the Caney Fork River.

There are three species of bass, crappie, Walleye, trout and catfish.

For hikers, there are around 12 miles of trails, from easy to difficult.

The Merritt Ridge Trail is a 5.35-mile loop trail that allows you to climb the steep ascent to Merritt Ridge to enjoy incredible lake views and the surrounding landscape.

Edgar Evins State Park is at 1630 Edgar Evins State Park Rd, Silver Point, TN 38582.

6- Cumberland Mountain State Park

Cumberland Mountain State Park sits at the northern tip of the snake-like Byrd Lake on the Cumberland Plateau.

The formation of the Cumberland Mountain State Park started in the New Deal era when families in poverty were moved to small farms in the Cumberland Plateau area.

The park was acquired in 1938 as a recreational area for those who were relocated to the area.

The park’s boat dock opens in August on weekends.

You can launch your kayaks and paddleboards and rent various boats, including tandem kayaks and pedal boats.

There are four miles of biking trails for mountain biking enthusiasts and 14 miles of hiking trails.

There’s also a swimming pool and golf course and the lake offers opportunities to catch bass, bluegill and catfish year-round.

Cumberland Mountain State Park is at 24 Office Dr, Crossville, TN 38555.

7- Panther Creek State Park

This northeastern Tennessee state park is around 50 minutes’ drive outside of Knoxville on the Cherokee Reservoir.

The park is a beautiful place to relax or head out for an adventure.

The park’s focal point is the Cherokee Reservoir which you can see from a number of impressive vantage points.

The park and the land it sits on is steeped in Native American history.

The park offers 17 hiking trails across 30 miles of beautiful country landscape.

If you are a hiker, you must bring your camera as there are plenty of views of Cherokee Lake and the Cumberland Mountains to capture, especially if you head out along the Point Lookout Trail.

If mountain biking is more your thing, head along the 15 miles of designated trails suitable for beginners and experts.

If you plan on spending a bit of time in the area, why not check in at the Panther Creek campground, which allows tent camping and RV camping?

You can head to the lake and paddle, kayak and canoe from 7 am till dusk every day.

You will need to come with your own boats though as they don’t offer rentals.

Panther Creek State Park is at 2010 Panther Creek Park Rd, Morristown, TN 37814.

8- Pickett CCC Memorial State Park

Pickett CCC Memorial State Park is in northern Tennessee, close to the border with Kentucky.

This is one of the lesser-known Tennessee state parks, but its quietness makes it a bit of a hidden gem.

The park is also within the 20,887-acre Pickett State Forest.

This area is worth exploring for a few days, as adjacent to the park is the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, which is a whopping 125,000 acres (50,585 ha).

If you love star gazing, definitely book a spot on their campsite as this state park is a designated Dark Sky Park.

If camping is not your thing, then there are rental cabins that sleep up to eight people.

Pickett CCC Memorial State Park is at 4605 Pickett Park Hwy, Jamestown, TN 38556.

9- Reelfoot Lake State Park

reelfoot lake state park tennessee
Reelfoot Lake State Park is one of the most tranquil state parks in Tennessee.

Reelfoot Lake State Park is near the Mississippi River and the Tennessee-Missouri border in the state’s northwest corner.

Reelfoot Lake State Park is best known as an excellent boating, fishing and wildlife spot.

The lake was created by several earthquakes back in 1811 and 1812.

These earthquakes were so strong it caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards for a while.

Cypress trees define the landscape and float above the water due to previous forests being flooded by earthquakes.

If you don’t have a boat, you can rent canoes and kayaks on an hourly basis at the Camp Store or the South Campground.

The natural fishing lake is known for its crappie and bluegill fishing, and while you fish, be on the lookout for white pelicans and eagles.

Reelfoot Lake State Park is at 2595 Highway 21 East, Tiptonville, TN 38079.

10- Fall Creek Falls State Park

Nashville to Fall Creek Falls All Inclusive Full Day Adventure
A drawing of Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee.

This state park in Tennessee is one of the most visited parks in the state.

Fall Creek Falls State Park is around an hour’s drive north of Chattanooga.

The park is large at around 29,800 acres and on the Cumberland Plateau.

The park is defined by its beautiful waterfalls, streams, gorges and timber forests, and lovely spot for hiking and exploring.

The falls by which the park is named after is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern USA.

As well as Fall Creek Falls, there are other waterfalls, including Cane Creek Falls, Cane Creek Cascades and Piney Falls.

You can camp or RV at the campsite, or for something a bit more luxurious, why not stay at Lodge Fall Creek Falls, which is inside the park?

Fall Creek Falls State Park is at 2009 Village Camp Rd, Spencer, TN 38585.

Recommended tour: Nashville to Fall Creek Falls

11- David Crockett Birthplace State Park

David Crockett Birthplace State Park is along the banks of the Nolichucky River in northeastern Tennessee.

This state park is named after soldier, pioneer and politician David Crockett who was born in Tenn close to Limestone in Tennessee.

This state park commemorates his birthplace and accomplishments.

If you’ve got kayaks or canoes, you can launch them at designated access points along the Nolichucky River, enjoy a paddle, and splash around.

The river also allows anglers to catch smallmouth bass and catfish.

You can also camp at the park at their 88-pitch campsite with space for RVs.

David Crockett Birthplace State Park is at 1245 Davy Crockett Park Rd #5825, Limestone, TN 37681.

12- Warriors’ Path State Park

The Warriors’ Path State Park is near Virginia’s border in northeastern Tennessee.

This state park is on the shores of the Patrick Henry Reservoir along the Holston River.

Like many state parks in Tennessee, reference is made in naming the local Native American tribes.

The park’s name refers to the Great Cherokee War and Trading Path.

Today the park is used for several outdoor recreational activities.

If you love being on the water, this is a great place to spend time with family and friends.

The Patrick Henry Reservoir has ramps for boat launching at the park marina.

You can also rent kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and pedal boats at the marina.

Have you ever heard of disc golf? It’s basically a course like golf, but instead of using clubs and getting the ball into holes, you will be using a frisbee and your hands.

The aim of the game is to get the frisbee onto metal cages at the end of each “hole”.

Try the game for yourself at Warriors’ Path State Park.

Warriors’ Path State Park is at 490 Hemlock Rd, Kingsport, TN 37663.

13- Pickwick Landing State Park

Pickwick Landing State Park is on the banks of the Tennessee River in southern Tennessee.

The park is two hours east of Memphis and south of the Pickwick Dam.

This is an excellent state park if you are looking for fishing, boating, and swimming.

If you want to elongate your stay, you can stay at their campsite, which has cabins and tented pitches.

If luxury is more your thing, you can stay at the park lodge.

In addition to water sports, there’s a disc golf course, tennis courts, nature walks and the Pickwick Landing State Park Golf Course.

Pickwick Landing State Park is at 116 State Park Rd, Counce, TN 38326.

14- Cummins Falls State Park

Cummins Falls State Park is in central northern Tennessee, around one hour and 20 minutes’ drive from Nashville.

This 306-acre state park takes you back to nature.

This place has been a popular swimming hole for the people of Jackson and Putnam counties for a century.

Cummins Falls is the eighth-largest waterfall in Tennessee in terms of volume and stands 75 feet high.

Pack hiking boots, as the park has several trails to explore.

The Delia Bell Meadow Trail is three miles away and has views of the Blackburn Fork River.

Cummins Falls State Park is at 390 Cummins Falls Ln, Cookeville, TN 38501.

15- Cedars of Lebanon State Park

15 minutes drive outside of Lebanon and around 35 minutes drive east of Nashville is the Cedars of Lebanon State Park.

This state park is in Wilson County and the Cedars of Lebanon State Forest surrounds the park.

The park is named after the red cedar trees found in the forest and park.

This state park makes for an excellent camping spot, especially if you are based in Nashville and don’t want to travel too far from the city.

There are 117 campsite spots across three different areas.

These sites have picnic tables, electric and water hookups and grills.

As well as camping, there are also fully equipped cabins.

Cedars of Lebanon State Park is at 328 Cedar Forest Rd, Lebanon, TN 37090.L 328 Cedar Forest Rd, Lebanon, TN 37090, United States.

16- Dunbar Cave State Park

You will find the Dunbar Cave State Park in northern Tennessee, Clarksville.

This state park is centred around the Dunbar Cave.

Dunbar Cave is the site of prehistoric Mississippian Native American cave art that is believed to date back to the 14th century.

Dunbar Cave acted as a sacred place for the Mississippian people.

They believed the cave had the power to transport people into the underworld.

Some of the drawings you can see in the caves are carved directly into the limestone, while others are drawn using charcoal.

The exact meaning of the cave wall drawings is unknown, but they still play a part in contemporary Native American societies.

The park is home to a museum with exhibits about the area’s history.

There is also a three-mile trail where you can be on the lookout for some of the park’s wildlife.

Dunbar Cave State Park is at 401 Old Dunbar Cave Rd, Clarksville, TN 37043.

17- Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park

big falls in Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park
One of the lovely state parks in Tennessee is Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park. Pictured here is Big Falls.

This state park is named after the Old Stone Fort, built 1,500 to 2,000 years ago.

The Europeans who settled in the area called the place a fort, but Native Americans had used the area for 500 years, and it wasn’t clear what the places use had been.

The land was then purchased by Tennessee in 1966 and turned into the Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park.

There are several miles of hiking pathways to explore in the park, which heads to the confluence of the Big Duck River and Little Duck River.

You might not see it from the pathway but delve deep into the river and scientists at National Geographic have stated that the Duck River is one of the most biodiverse rivers in the world.

The longest trail is a 1.4-mile easy-to-moderate trail where you can view Step Falls, Blue Hole Falls and Big Falls.

As well as hiking, you can fish for largemouth bass, catfish and bream on the Duck River.

Bird lovers will also enjoy this state park as you try and spot the northern parula and the red-eyed virero.

Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park is at 732 Stone Fort Dr, Manchester, TN 37355.

18- Indian Mountain State Park

A stone’s throw from the Tennessee-Kentucky border is the Indian Mountain State Park.

The park has outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy.

This state park in Tennessee has everything from disc golf to hiking, fishing, boating, and birding.

The trails in the park are more like walking routes rather than out-and-out trails.

The longest trail is the Indian Mountain Lake Trail which is 1 mile and an easy walk.

The campground at Indian Mountain State Park is popular, and you can visit any time of the year.

There are tent and RV spots, picnic tables, grills, water, and electricity hookups.

Indian Mountain State Park is at 143 Indian Mt State Park Cir, Jellico, TN 37762.

19- Radnor Lake State Park

radnor lake state parks tennessee
Another Tennessee state park to explore is Radnor lake State Park.

If you are visiting Nashville but want to find a slice of outdoor tranquillity, then check out Radnor Lake State Park.

This park is around a 20-minute drive from downtown Nashville and is well worth a visit.

The park maintains early opening hours (6 am), which is great for those wanting to visit the park with fewer people.

This 1,368-acre (553 ha) park is also a Class II Natural Area.

If you love walking, you will want to check out the 7.75 miles of hiking trails within the park.

If you have a pet or want to jog or ride bikes, you can head to the Otter Creek Road trail.

Head to the lake to see waterfowl, herons and maybe an owl if you arrive at opening time.

There are also mammals in the park, like otters and mink.

A beautiful array of wildflowers can be found within the park, and there are even ranger leg programs that allow you to learn more about the wildflowers.

Radnor Lake State Park is at 1160 Otter Creek Rd, Nashville, TN 37220.

20- Montgomery Bell State Park

Montgomery Bell State Park is around a 40-minute drive west of Nashville.

This state park is the perfect escape from the city and popular among city vacationers.

Montgomery Bell was once one of the biggest iron industries in Tennessee.

Today it’s a 3,850-acre park that offers swimming and on-land fun.

You can rend kayaks, canoes, pedal boats and flat-bottom fishing boats from Broken Paddle Outfitters on Lake Acorn.

Lake Acorn also offers a swim beach open between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

There is also a golf course, 23 miles of dirt mountain bike trails and around 10 miles of hiking trails.

With a lodge, cabins and a campsite, Montgomery Bell State Park is the perfect place for a long weekend of fun close to Nashville.

Montgomery Bell State Park is at 1020 Jackson Hill Rd, Burns, TN 37029. 

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harriet comley
Harriet Comley is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel writer and a lover of safaris. Since 2017 she has been travelling the globe living in the UK, Canada, Vietnam, China and now Zambia, where she is completing her PhD in Sustainable Tourism. For 3 1/2 years she taught English in Vietnam and China. Now she has turned her attention to writing, having contributed to a number of travel blogs and websites always focusing on what she loves most…exploring!