My friend from Arkansas contacted me a few months ago about coming to the Nashville area and doing some hiking. Right away I started making a plan to rival the one Carolyn had made for me when I visited earlier this year. I created a loop that took us from breakfast in Nashville, to Rock Island State Park, and then down to Greeter Falls in Savage Gulf State Natural Area, and then back to Nashville again. A perfect day trip that had us leaving Barista Parlor by 9am and arriving back in the city at about 6:30pm.
Any time people come to visit, I make sure they experience the glory that is a Barista Parlor biscuit. It’s the perfect way to start out a day of driving and hiking and then driving and hiking some more. My friends were definitely not disappointed, but honestly who in their right mind has ever been disappointed by that miraculous biscuit??
Our first stop was twin falls at Rock Island. This is one of the best middle Tennessee falls you can see for the least amount of work. Trail time is about five minutes before you can hop off and start rock scrambling out to the side of the river. You’ll be able to get pretty close to the falls so prepare yourself to get a little wet from the spray. We hung out at the falls for a bit before driving to a restaurant in McMinnville for lunch. Collins River BBQ and Cafe
gets a 10/10 from us if you need a bite before heading to a new location.
We drove about an hour down to Savage Gulf to hike Greeter and Boardtree Falls. It’s about a mile and a half hike to see both falls. There is definitely some elevation changes in the trail but nothing overly strenuous - hiking poles or a walking stick is always helpful no matter the terrain.
Greeter, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful locations in TN. White falls cascading into a pool of perfect blue water. Even though it was warm that day, the water was so cold that the bottom of the falls was a bit icy. It created such a beautiful shine at the base.
We had the falls to ourselves for a bit and then worked our way back up the trail - and the slippery spiral staircase - to find the suspension bridge and the top of Boardtree Falls. This falls isn’t anything spectacular, but it’s unique in that you can easily walk out on the top of the falls since the water is always pretty calm. There’s usually a dry rock right at the top where you can sit and take in the view.
This is a great day trip if you want to get the most out of your time. Roundtrip it’s about a 4 hour drive, but with all the views and hiking, it feels like much less. However, if there is extra time in your day, there are multiple other state parks and natural areas to and from both locations. Middle Tennessee has unlimited possibilities!