Although it's famously known for its rich musical scene, the Nashville community has more to offer than just live bands, great restaurants, and luxury homes. The city sits along the Cumberland River, north-central of Tennessee, meaning it's also full of natural wonders, including an array of natural and artificial lakes that offer a wonderful escape from the city's everyday bustle. Keep reading to explore the best lakes near Nashville and what they have to offer.
Located about eight miles from downtown Nashville, Radnor Lake is an 85-acre man-made lake inside the Radnor Lake State Park. The lake was initially constructed to provide water for steam locomotives and livestock watering pens by the Louisville and Nashville Company in the early 1900s but is today one of the park's best spots for relaxation.
The area around Radnor Lake teems with an array of unique bird species, including the Tufted Titmouse, Blue Heron, and the Carolina Chickadee, making it the best spot for bird-watching. It's also home to various amphibians and reptiles and a wide variety of mammals, such as otters and beavers. While swimming and boating are technically restricted, the lake's management offers ranger-guided interpretive canoe floats 3-4 times each week from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
As a lake located in Tennessee's first-ever Class II Natural Area, Radnor Lake is surrounded by miles of natural trails and a wide variety of native flora and fauna, which is one of the reasons behind the park's strict regulations. Radnor Lake State Park is accessible via Otter Creek Road from 1-65 south Downtown Nashville and is open from 6 a.m. to 20 minutes after sunset year-round. The lake is part of the Tennessee State Park System, meaning there's no access fee.
Marrowbone is a small, 60-acre lake just 19 miles from Nashville. The small lake is a natural haven for fishing enthusiasts thanks to the massive array of fish species such as trout, bass, and channel catfish, as well as its well-maintained fishing piers, launching ramps, and even a bait shop on site. The best part? Marrowbone is rarely crowded, meaning minimal fishing interruptions.
Visitors will need a permit to fish and can often purchase one on-site. There are also boat, battery, and trolling motor rentals available. Besides fishing, the lake itself is spectacular. The drive to the lake is characterized by winding roads with deep-green lush vegetation, while the lake is surrounded by scenic hiking trails, a picnic area complete with tables, and even a fine dining restaurant. Marrowbone Lake is also near Nashville's popular hotspots, such as Hadley and Centennial parks, making it a fantastic spot to spend an afternoon fishing after a morning spent exploring.
Marrowbone Lake is located in Joelton and is open from sunrise to sunset every day. The bait shop is, however, often closed on Tuesday. Parking is free and controlled by the park's rangers, and there are no entrance fees.
Percy Priest Lake
Percy Priest Lake is a U.S. Army Corps-owned and managed lake just 15 minutes east of Nashville. It's a 14,200-acre reservoir lake formed after the Stones River was dammed in 1969 and has its downstream and upstream sections predominantly located in Davidson and Rutherford counties consecutively. Although it's artificial, the lake's proximity to the city, its picturesque blue waters, and countless recreational opportunities make it a pretty popular escape among Nashville residents, meaning it can get a bit crowded on weekends.
Activities like kayaking and paddleboarding are trendy here, thanks to organizations like the Nashville Rowing Club and the Nashville Paddle Company. There are five marinas on the location that offer boat rentals and services like gas and food. Percy Priest Lake's Anderson Road Recreation Area is a great spot to take a swim and even features a beach area for relaxation.
There are plenty of parks and camping sites around the lake, making it ideal for both day trips to week-long camping retreats. Fishing is also quite popular on Percy Priest Lake, with fish species ranging from striped, white, large to Cherokee bass, bream, crappie, sunfish, bluegill, and trout. Visitors can always rent a boat or fish from the various bank fishing spots around the lake or at Stewart and Vivrette creeks. Lakefront homes and properties are pretty in demand around the area.
Tims Ford Lake
Located roughly an hour and a half from Nashville, the Tims Ford Lake is a reservoir lake managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority. The organization built the reservoir on the Elk River, and it has a water level of about 15 feet. The lake is mainly used for power generation but is also a recreational area popular for fishing, thanks to the broad range of fish species from bass to bluegill.
Fishing can be done from the banks anywhere throughout the lake, with nearly 265 miles of shoreline. There's even a Lake View Marina offering boat rentals, ramps, a courtesy dock, a snack and bait shop, a fish cleaning area, canoes, and kayaks.
The lake is surrounded by the Tims Ford State Park, which features nearly seven paved miles and 22 miles of natural trails for exploration. There's even an 18-hole golf course on the park, part of the Tennessee Golf Trail. Most Tennessee parks have no access fees, but you might be charged for special activities at Tims Ford Lake.
Old Hickory Lake
Old Hickory Lake is a reservoir lake on Cumberland River about 25 miles northeast of Nashville. The lake was formed when Old Hickory Lock and Dam was constructed and is named after President Andrew Jackson, who was nicknamed Old Hickory. With over 400 miles of shoreline, this reservoir lake offers nearly infinite recreational opportunities ranging from boating, wading, swimming, fishing to water sports such as skiing.
The lake's beach area is especially popular among watersport lovers, as it features a beautiful sandy patch where visitors can enjoy picnics and sunbathe after swimming or skiing. There's a visitor center with resources and exhibits where first-time visitors can learn all about Old Hickory Lake, recreational facilities, and even how to navigate the area's many scenic trails. But that's not all: the lake area is home to numerous animal and plant species, including large populations of birds, making it perfect for nature lovers and photography enthusiasts. Thanks to the area's pristine environment, endless attractions, and proximity to Nashville parks like Net Caldwell and Bledsoe Creek, lakefront homes and luxury real estate are in demand around the lake.
Old Hickory Lake is accessible via 1-65 to TN 45 from Nashville. Like some of the best lakes near Nashville, it is also open throughout the year. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides a day-use pass for $5 per vehicle for selected recreation areas in the park, such as Old Hickory Beach.
Center Hill Lake
Created in 1948 as a reservoir for a dam for power generation and flood control by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Center Hill Lake is an excellent spot to visit. The 64-mile artificial lake is characterized by natural features such as rock bluffs and multiple waterfalls, making it the perfect place to spend time reconnecting with nature. It is particularly popular among anglers thanks to the assortment of fish species, including various types of bass and many others, such as sunfish, walleye, and catfish.
Fishing licenses are available online through the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency but can also be purchased from state-wide outdoor retailers. The Hidden Harbor Marina near the lake offers fishing, pontoon, and houseboat to cabin rentals. Camping sites mean visitors can always turn their time here into camping instead of a day trip.
The lake is located about 60 miles east of Nashville and offers a variety of passes, ranging from a day-use pass for $5, a lifetime senior pass for $80, and even a kid's annual pass for free.
Explore Nashville's Best Lakes
Nashville has a surprisingly large number of lakes for a technically landlocked city. From natural to artificial, each lake has its unique charm and unlocks access to endless recreational opportunities, making a slow Saturday spent outdoors worthwhile. The best part is waterfront homes and great neighborhoods can be found around most of these lakes.
If the opportunities of Nashville excite you, contact The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage with Nashville's MLS at (615) 603-3602 to get in touch with local real estate agents who can help find the perfect Nashville home for you today.
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