Port Royal State Historic Park was the site one of the earliest colonial communities and trading posts in Middle Tennessee. It was first settled in the early 1780s and was a longhunter camp as early as 1775. The town of Port Royal was founded in 1797 and rose to great prominence in the early part of the 19th century because of its strategic location at the head of navigation on the Red River, serving all of Northern Middle Tennessee and South Central Kentucky and at a major stage line route. In 1977, the state of Tennessee received the deed to 26 acres of land at Port Royal, and designated it a Tennessee State Park in 1978.
Port Royal is designated as an official site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. The Trail of Tears recognizes the forced removal of Native Americans from their homelands in the Southeastern United States and the paths they traveled westward in 1838 and 1839. Records of the removal mentioned Port Royal, the last stop before leaving Tennessee, as an encampment site where the Cherokee stayed overnight or longer to resupply and rest. Port Royal State Park is the second Tennessee State Park to be named an official site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, joining Red Clay State Historic Park.
Hiking is a popular activity within the park. The Overlook Trail is a short stroll along the top of the bluff to overlook the Red River and the bottom below. The Trail of Tears is an original, preserved section of the Trail of Tears certified by the National Park Service. This trail is about 300 yards long and is rated easy. The River Bottom Trail connects to the Trail of Tears and provides a leisurely walk through a forested river bottom.