Explore Tennessee’s rich iron foraging history while relaxing on 3,850 acres of trails, lakes, and forest at Montgomery Bell State Park. Just 40 minutes outside of Nashville, the park hosts three lakes and 19 miles of hiking and biking trails, along with several lodging opportunities fit for those looking to escape city life and relax for a weekend (or more).
The park’s namesake was one of the largest iron industries in Tennessee during the 19th century. Remains from this lucrative business can be seen through historical buildings located around the park, including sites like the first Cumberland Presbyterian Church. After the decline of the iron industry, the park was developed during the Great Depression by CCC and WPA crews. In 1943, the area was officially designated as a TN State Park.
Today, the park remains a great location for water recreation, hiking, mountain biking, and more. Ample lodging opportunities make it a popular tourist location for those coming from the city and others looking for a chance to explore Tennessee’s history and wildlife.
Montgomery Bell State Park hosts a variety of lodging options, from their newly renovated resort-like lodge to backcountry campsites stationed along the overnight trail. With this range of options, visitors have the opportunity to curate their most desirable experience at the park.
Lodge Montgomery Bell
The state park is home to Lodge Montgomery Bell, a 117-room hotel on the shores of Lake Acorn. The lodge features a full restaurant and bar, a variety of newly- renovated rooms to choose from, and ample event space for your next large gathering.
The hotel is equipped with a range of amenities to curate the perfect getaway experience, including an outdoor pool, patios overlooking the lake, a fitness center, and access to the rest of the park’s water activities, golf course, and trails.
Lodge Montgomery Bell hosts 6,000 square feet of event space and is equipped with full-service catering abilities for your next conference, wedding, or special event. Reservations can be made on the state park’s website.
Looking for a more private experience at the park? Choose from 8 premium cabins to rent during your stay.
These cabins are luxuriously outfitted with full amenities and are perfect locations for entertaining and relaxing between ventures on the park’s nearby lakes and trails.All cabins have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and can accommodate up to 8 guests. They come with a fully-equipped kitchen, outdoor patio, grill, and fireplace.
Head to the park website to reserve your cabin stay.
Group Camp One
Visitors seeking a historic overnight experience at the park can stay at Group Camp One. Constructed by the CCC in the 1930s, this group cabin is registered as a historic landmark and can accommodate up to 120 people for a group camping experience you will never forget.
The 47 cabins that make up Group Camp One are constructed of hand-hewn stone and provide a rustic cabin environment, with no air conditioning or heating.
The Montgomery Bell campground is a third lodging option that is open year-round and can accommodate RV and tent campers.
There are 120 campsites to choose from with a variety of amenities, including water and electric hookups and onsite sewer hookups. The sites are also equipped with picnic tables, grills, and trash cans.
Three backcountry shelters are also available for reservation along the park’s overnight trail for those looking for a primitive camping experience. Backcountry permits are required for use of these shelters.
The Montgomery Bell Golf Course is deemed a hidden gem of Tennessee. The course has been recognized by Golf Digest as one of the Top 100 Public Courses to Play. With rolling hills, a background of hardwood forest, and Champion Bermuda green, the course is renowned as a must-see destination for all Tennessee golfers.
Lucky golfers will catch a glimpse of wild turkey, deer, and geese on the course as they play.
Check out the course’s onsite driving range, practice green, clubhouse, and snackbar in between rounds. Lessons are also available.
After settling in at your hotel room, cabin, or campsite, get ready to hit the water. Montgomery Bell State Park is home to three lakes nestled within the park’s nearly 4,000 acres. Lake Woodhaven, Lake Acorn, and Creech Hollow Lake provide a wealth of opportunities for water recreation. Visitors to the park can choose from a range of boating, fishing, and swimming activities to take advantage of during their stay.
Non-motorized boating is allowed on all three lakes at the park. Visitors may bring their own boats to launch or rent paddleboats and kayaks from an online reservation system.
Once you’re out on the water, try your luck at fishing for several common game species that reside in the lakes’ waters. Large and small mouth bass, crappie, creel, catfish, and more can be caught by boat and shore on all three lakes.
Be sure to check local and park regulations for guidance on catch size and release regulations before fishing.
Lake Acorn is the perfect destination to cool off during a hot Tennessee summer day. The lake’s day use area includes a sand beach shore and designated swimming area open to all park visitors. Spend a day relaxing on the beach, swimming in the calm waters, or paddling with help of nearby boat rentals.
The pool at Montgomery Lodge is also available for cabin and lodge guests looking for a place to take a dip and relax. The pool is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend.
Looking to stretch your legs after your paddle on the lake(s)? Montgomery Bell State Park features nearly 20 miles of hiking trails that range from easy to moderate and take hikers through the park’s 3,800 acres along forested areas, lakes, and the park’s historic buildings and sites.
The park also features approximately 23 miles of mountain biking trails for avid riders.
Read more about them below.
There are 8 designated trails for hikers to explore within the park. Trails range from .3 miles long to a 10.4 mile overnight loop. All trails give great views of the lakes and meander over streams and through thick forest within the park’s boundaries. The longest overnight loop makes a circumference of the park and hosts three shelters for backcountry campers.
Look out for wildlife, including an abundant varieties of bird species, along the trails during your hike. The park is a popular site for birding, with 139 species identified among the forest and aquatic habitats. Look for ducks and eagles by the lake and a variety of songbirds, owls, and migratory species within the park’s woods.
While mountain bikes are not allowed on the park’s hiking trails, bikers can utilize more than 20 miles of designated mountain bike trails. Choose from easy to technical routes marked by color in varying difficulty.
Be sure to check safety regulations and tips and have a safety plan before embarking on your ride.