Harpeth River State Park is a linear park managing 40 miles of the Harpeth River that connects several natural, archeological and historic sites including nine access points.
The Harpeth Scenic River Complex includes canoe access at the U.S. Hwy. 100 Bridge, the 1862 Newsom’s Mill ruins and at the McCrory Lane Bridge at Hidden Lake. Downstream, the Narrows of the Harpeth provides an upstream and downstream access, the Bell’s Bend five mile float a unique 1/4 mile portage. The park provides beginner and advanced paddlers opportunities to float the Class II river. Visitors can bring their own canoe or kayak or call local commercial outfitters for trip information and boat rentals.
Located in the Narrows of the Harpeth, a 100 yard tunnel, hand cut through solid rock in 1818, was one of the great engineering feats of the time and is today an industrial landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. Montgomery Bell, an early iron industrialist, was so proud of his steel mill that he lived within the sound of this waterfall and is buried across the river.
Hiking is another popular activity in the park. There are many trails throughout the park offering varying degrees of difficulty, with several leading to some of the historical areas. Most trails have interpretive signs. A half-mile trail along the backside of the limestone bluff leads to the site of Montgomery Bell’s Pattison Forge where a small waterfall is all that remains of the iron forge operation. Another trail offers a half-mile hike through the forest and along majestic bluffs to a small lake with a one mile spur trail ascending to the top of a ridge where the remains of an old marble dance floor are all that remain of a 1940’s resort.
Harpeth River State Park is also known for active fishing. The river hosts large and small mouth bass, bream, crappie, bluegill, channel catfish and other game fish.