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175 We Found Hidden Lake 2010-01-1

Hidden Lake of Harpeth River State Park

After last week’s hike along the Harpeth River, we decided to return to the area and try to find Hidden Lake. If you search for Hidden Lake on the State’s web site, all you find is a couple of sentences under the Harpeth River State Park (at the end of the second paragraph.)

We located the trailhead while going to the Narrows last week, then talked to a couple of hikers about the area, and finally found out that our friend Laura had been to the area. We made it the weekly excursion.

Jon and Laura decided to join us so we carpooled to the trailhead. Parking next to the river at the trailhead on McCrory Lane, the trail crosses a field on a mowed path. There were three trail signs, but no trail blazes or indicators.

Leaving the field, we followed a snow covered road through a forest to a junction. Old roads went both directions so we veered right to venture to the top of the hill and overlook first. After a short distance a trail came down from the top. A nice overlook of a small lake was available from that point. We did not take the trail, because it wasn’t one of the tracks on the GPS.

Note: Prior to the hike we downloaded the track logs for the trails to use on the GPS. That data is available on the State Park GIS site. We tried to follow the tracks we downloaded, the best we could.

Continuing on the road, we took the next path up the hill to the left. At the top of the hill was a great overlook of the valley, river, and the Veteran’s Cemetery. Also of note, at the top of the hill we found the remains of "the dance floor" - a remnant of this area’s former days as an escape from Nashville city life.

Returning on the path we had just climbed, we descended until a side trail met the main trail on the left. Although unmarked on the GPS, it was a nice path. Along the way we passed an old propane gas tank which looked a bit like a submarine! Continuing down the ridge we joined the road we had turned off to hike up the hill. We were standing just above Hidden Lake. Steps wound down a cliff to the left (south) and the path continued high around the natural amphitheater of the lake. Hiking further on the path, a well-placed bench gave a good rest and scenic overlook. Following the top of the cliff to the south, the trail made an obscure turn (west) away from the edge. We didn’t see it at first because we were following the top of the cliff instead of watching where we should go. The trail was not on the GPS.

Amy and Laura followed the trail around as it descended to the right a few feet and then turned back left and continued to make a great path on top of the narrow ridge. Jon and I returned to the bench we had passed earlier, and followed the GPS. There was no trail, just brush with the occasional orange survey tag. The proposed (?) trail would have been nice, but it was not yet a trail.

Down at Hidden Lake, the entire surface was frozen solid. As I started across the lake, Jake (the dog) snapped a stick and I thought I was going for an icy dip! Luckily for me, it was not the crack of ice. I did walk a bit more cautiously though.

An old road headed back toward the trailhead. The small lake we had seen from above was just off the trail with a side path leading to a couple of benches (but no signage.)

When we returned to the field, we took the Bluebird Trail. There were quite a few birds playing close to the mowed path but they were mainly robins and cardinals. Finally, we saw a bluebird!

Our day was complete; it was an easy hike to return to the car.

A few trail notes:

  • The area was clean. A few plastic bottles were frozen into the lake, but that was about all the litter we found on the trails.
  • There are no restrooms or water. The parking area is large but it also serves as a river access.
  • The trails were not marked. There were, however, several nice benches if you could just find them.
  • The trail along the ridge was spectacular with great views of the lake.
  • The history of the area seems very interesting. I wish there had been more either on the web site or on a kiosk.
  • It was cold (highs in mid 20’s) when we were there and the ice was spectacular.
  • The Bluebird Trail was a mowed trail in a field. Oddly enough, the mowed paths also extended to each of the bluebird houses. We visited one of the houses but no one was home. Maybe the blue birds thought we were solicitors and didn’t want to stick their heads out to talk to us!

Hidden Lake is a great area. It is worth repeated visits.

Happy hidden trails.


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