Autumn Escape to Bledsoe Creek

October 3, 2022  |  Permalink

This guide was created in partnership with the Cumberland River Compact's Basin Field Guide. Learn more about this exciting partnership here.

When you’re looking for a lakeside escape, you can’t beat the waterfront campsites at Bledsoe Creek State Park. This peaceful park offers a natural oasis just 45 minutes northeast of Nashville. From boating and fishing to hiking and stargazing, Bledsoe Creek is the perfect spot for your next camping adventure.

We’ve compiled a list of our favorite things to do in Bledsoe Creek State Park, and added tips from park rangers to help you plan the best visit.


Chairs around a fire pit and tent during fallPhoto: @heyimadaline on Instagram

Set Up Camp by the Water

Bledsoe Creek State Park • 400 Zieglers Fort Rd, Gallatin, TN 37066

RV and Tent Campground

The campsites at Bledsoe Creek State Park are set up with a bit more seclusion and privacy when compared to other state parks. There are 57 RV and tent campsites with electric and water hookups and eight primitive tent sites. A handful of these hug the lakeshore and offer stunning views of Old Hickory Lake through the trees. The campsite offers two centrally located playgrounds, a laundry area, and two bathhouses with hot showers. Bank fishing is a popular activity and those with lakefront campsites enjoy easy access. You’ll also have a front-row seat for wildlife viewing!

Park Ranger Tip: Folks love to be first in line for our waterfront campsites and particularly enjoy sites #55, #56, and #57. 

Accessibility: There are three ADA-accessible campsites available in the main campground.


Hammock Campground

If you’re looking for a beautiful location with perfect trees to set up your hammock, you’ll find three sites that are made for you at the primitive hammock campground. This is a great option for groups as each site can accommodate up to six hammocks. The sites come ready with a picnic table and grill/fire ring combo. 

Park Ranger Tip: Know before you book that vehicles are not allowed at the hammock campsites. Parking is in a paved, public lot, which is about 20 to 50 yards away from the campsites.


Trail winding through trees

Story-Book Trails, Lakeshores, and High Ridges

Bledsoe Creek State Park • 400 Zieglers Fort Rd, Gallatin, TN 37066

Stretch your legs and view some of the park’s beautiful wildlife on one of the six unique trails. The trails provide a diverse range of views climbing ridges, passing by streams, and hugging the lakeshore. Two of the most popular trails at the park are the Highland Rim Trail and the Shoreline Trail.

The Highland Rim Trail offers short but steep climbs, scenic views, and resting spots as it winds through the dryer elevated ridges of the park and down into the lower wetlands. While visiting the protected wetlands, guests can enjoy the observation deck that extends into the habitat, making it a birder's dream. The Shoreline Trail is an easy walk that offers plenty of places to stop and have a picnic while enjoying views along the water's edge.

If you’re visiting the park with little ones, check out the Reading Ranger Story Trail. This paved loop trail is accessed from the Visitor Center parking lot. Enlarged pages from children’s books are placed along this stroller-friendly, half-mile trail so children can read while they explore nature. Stories are changed annually to keep things fresh!

Park Ranger Tip: The Shoreline Trail couples nicely with the High Ridge Trail to give an outer loop experience of about 3 - 3.2 miles.

Accessibility: There are two paved ADA trails at the park including the 1.0-mile Mayo Wix Memorial Trail and the 0.3-mile Birdsong Nature Trail. Both trails meander through the woods, next to a stream, and by the lake.


The interior of a trendy coffee shopPhoto: ©Black Press Coffee Shop

Black Press Coffee Shop

Black Press Coffee Shop • 115 Walton Ferry Rd #20, Hendersonville, TN 37075

For those needing a caffeine boost, Black Press Coffee Roasters is an area favorite for high-quality roasts, delicious drinks, and a relaxed atmosphere. The local roasters have locations in both Gallatin and Hendersonville and roast their own beans at a separate location in town. Aside from their coffee, the shop offers pastries, sandwiches, and other small bites on their menu perfect for a pick-me-up. 

Grab a latte to go before your day at the state park, take a break and relax at the shop after your adventures, or buy some beans and bring them with you to your campsite to enjoy a local cup of joe fresh from your camp stove to start the day! 

The exterior of a white building with large collumnsPhoto: ©Sumner County Museum

Sumner County Museum

Sumner County Museum • 183 W Main St, Gallatin, TN 37066

Gallatin is a center of a wealth of historical significance, from historic homesteads and manors to the town’s involvement in the Civil War as a strategic location along the Cumberland River. 

Sites such as Historic Rose Mont, Cragfront State Historic, and Bledsoe’s Fort Historic Park provide ample opportunities for history buffs to gain a newfound knowledge of the area and the events that have shaped its sense of place. Before you dig deep into the history, though,  start at the Sumner County Museum to get an overview

The Sumner County Museum provides knowledge and artifacts about significant historical events and eras in the Gallatin region. For a humble $5 suggested donation, visitors can peruse the museum’s three floors that feature exhibits from Gallatin’s prehistoric past to the present. 

Check out the prehistoric fossils on display, read more about the professions that have shaped the town, and view indigenous artifacts from those who first occupied the land– and that’s just the beginning! The museum’s knowledgeable staff is sure to help out with any questions you might have and offer insights into the events and eras that shaped the town into what it is today.

A female park ranger leads a group of families on a hike through the woods during fallPhoto: ©Tennessee Photographs

Park Programs

Bledsoe Creek State Park • 400 Zieglers Fort Rd, Gallatin, TN 37066

Guided programs are one of the most valuable and unique offerings at state parks. Visitors can register to attend hikes, demonstrations, and activities led by park rangers and seasonal staff. These events are often free or low-cost and offered for a range of ages and abilities. 

At Bledsoe Creek State Park, you’ll find events like crafts, campfire s’mores, creek crawls, and mushroom hikes being offered throughout the year. You can register for these events online using the park’s upcoming events calendar. Each event will expand your knowledge of the natural environment!


Motor boat cruising a lake at sunsetPhoto: ©Tennessee Photographs

Fun on Old Hickory Lake

Bledsoe Creek State Park • 400 Zieglers Fort Rd, Gallatin, TN 37066

Pack your fishing gear and hitch your boat trailer! With the park being surrounded by water, guests have a great opportunity for fishing (catfish, crappie, bluegill, and bass) and boating. Campers will enjoy access to a boat launch ramp and courtesy dock conveniently located near the campground. There is also a public boat launch ramp at a separate entrance off Zeiglers Fort Road and another courtesy dock available inside the park.


A neon sign with the name Swney SwiftsPhoto: ©Brent Moore

Swaney Swifts on the Square

Swaney Swifts on the Square • 118 N Water Ave, Gallatin, TN 37066

In the days when soda fountains were all the rage, Swaney Swifts was a staple location for gathering in downtown Gallatin. The drugstore, located across the courthouse in the town’s historic downtown square, invited folks in with its neon sign and famous malt milkshakes. 

Today, Swaney Swifts on the Square continues this tradition with a modern twist. Reopened in 2015, the drugstore-turned-restaurant serves up burgers and fries and pays homage to its roots with a collection of old-fashioned milkshakes on the menu. The gathering spot stays lively with weekly events, too. Stop in for a round of Thursday Night Trivia, and listen to live music every Friday night that features a range of local talent. 

A lamp post in front of a large white building with lots of windowsPhoto: ©South Water Manor

South Water Manor

South Water Manor • 562 S Water Ave, Gallatin, TN 37066

Located in the heart of Gallatin sits a building marked by its lavish Italianate architecture characteristic of the mid-19th century. Once the residence of Irish immigrant Henry Fitzgerald, the space is now home to South Water Manor: a unique artisan marketplace and event space. 

Owners Heather and Jeff Bridgstock bought the historic building in 2020 with a vision of relocating their Hendersonville business to create a local hub for the Gallatin area. Today, the space is home to various restaurants, businesses, and an event space perfect for hosting parties and celebrations among the details of the building’s original architecture. 

Pick up a local souvenir from the Inside Out Markets, grab a bite to eat at Bistro 562, and walk around the historic space turned modern hangout spot.

About the author

Tennessee State Parks Logo beside Cumberland River Compact Logo

This guide was written in partnership with the Cumberland River Compact.

There are more than 20 Tennessee State Parks within the Cumberland River Basin, each with its own unique history, features, and opportunities for outdoor recreation. All of these parks rely on clean water to support the humans and creatures that visit and call them home. Tennessee State Parks has partnered with the Cumberland River Compact to bring you guides that highlight the best features of parks around the basin, along with the communities that surround them. We hope these guides will encourage you to support the vision of clean and abundant water for our Cumberland River Basin by visiting these parks whose vision is to protect and preserve the unique natural, cultural, and historic resources of Tennessee.

About Erin O'Farrell

Erin O'Farrell is an Americorps member at the Cumberland River Compact in Nashville, TN. Aside from serving for the Compact, Erin enjoys spending time outdoors and exploring the Cumberland River Basin throughout Tennessee and Kentucky.

About Brenna Sharpe

Brenna Sharpe is the Digital Marketing Manager for Tennessee State Parks, based in Nashville, TN. When she's not indoors hanging out with her two cats, you'll find her out exploring the beauty of Tennessee.

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