Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.
A popular local mountain bike destination, the Jones Mill Trail in Long Hunter State Park is an oft-overlooked option for Nashville-area dayhikers and trail runners. Winding through a sparse cedar forest, this 3.5-mile figure-eight loop samples limestone glades (home to the endangered Tennessee coneflower), interesting varieties of trailside moss, and birdwatching spots atop reservoir bluffs.
Start from the Jones Mill Trailhead on Barnett Road and begin hiking clockwise on the Main Moop—keep an eye out for patches of reindeer moss on the side of trail. One mile in, you’ll start the counter-clockwise loop to Bald Knob (an overlook of Percy Price Lake where you may hear or see common loons—and where bald eagles have been spotted in the past). Descend from Baldy Knob and head west through the cedars, making an optional shoreline detour on the return loop before the trailhead.
Note: This is a popular mountain bike area so keep your eyes and ears sharp for trail traffic. The trail is less-trafficked during winter months when muddy conditions keep many bikers at bay.
-Mapped by Kelly Stewart, Nashville Hiking Meetup
- Distance: 5.6
- Miles from city center: 26
Location: 36.0747922, -86.5095143
Hike southwest from the trailhead (located at the southwest end of parking lot).
Location: 36.074448, -86.5099874
Turn left at sign. The section of trail ahead is marked with white and orange blazes.
Location: 36.0762538, -86.5037835
Continue straight on Main Loop as the trail opens up to a short segment with fewer cedars.
Location: 36.0759156, -86.5006238
Continue straight toward Bald Knob. The trail on the left cuts back to the trailhead.
Location: 36.0757292, -86.4998165
The trail crosses the remnants of a stone “slave wall” and turns right.
Location: 36.0754378, -86.4996162
Cross a bridge over small creek.
Location: 36.0747407, -86.4994544
Bear right at fork to continue on to Bald Knob.
Location: 36.0714931, -86.5018952
Trail begins moderate switchback ascent up toward Bald Knob.
Location: 36.0696047, -86.5033275
Bald Knob: Peek through the trees for views of Percy Priest Lake. In 0.1 mile, the trail begins its descent of Bald Knob and reconnects with Waypoint 7. At Waypoint 7, backtrack on the main loop to Waypoint 4 and bear left on Return Loop.
Location: 36.0724817, -86.5091935
Turn left off the trail to head through the woods for a short detour to Percy Priest Lake (created by the damming of Stones River). In the winter the beach becomes a wide, rocky shoreline open for exploration.
Location: 36.0745109, -86.5102208
Bear right to return to trailhead.
Percy Priest Lake
Location: 36.0722801, -86.5088019
Jones Mill Trailhead
Location: 36.0747797, -86.5095904
Location: 36.0744502, -86.5099311
Follow the bike trail’s directional signage. Be aware of bikers and move out of the path when they approach.
Location: 36.0766679, -86.5060486
Brittle, white-ish “reindeer moss” is very common on this trail.
To Bald Knob
Location: 36.0759156, -86.5005943
Main Loop or Shortcut
Location: 36.0762582, -86.5037245
Location: 36.0757292, -86.4997897
The trail passes the remnants of a “slave wall” and makes a right turn.
Location: 36.0754387, -86.4995885
The Fork to Bald Knob
Location: 36.0747407, -86.4994302
Bear right at this fork to continue to Bald Knob.
Location: 36.0710682, -86.5031773
Moss and lichen such as this “cushion moss” abound on the trail. Bryophyte is referred to as “cushion moss” since you can press down on it like a cushiony pillow.
Mountain Bike Traffic
Location: 36.0704178, -86.5029895
Don’t forget to look out for the mountain bikers and stand out of the way. If hiking with a group, a simple yell of “bike!” will be very appreciated.
Percy Priest Lake View
Location: 36.0696026, -86.503247
Location: 36.0706649, -86.4999506
A small sink hole or forest floor cave-in.
Location: 36.0759265, -86.5006024
Location: 36.0723061, -86.508767
Location: 36.072976, -86.5102798
Eastern red cedar, blue ash, and aromatic sumac punctuate what look like a graveyard of natural tombstones.