Nashville is widely known for its country music and southern food, but what if we told you it’s also an incredible place to stand up paddle board. There are some great waterways in and around the city that are the perfect escape into nature. Whether you prefer flowing rivers or calm and tranquil lakes, Nashville has it all.
So, if you’re visiting Nashville, or even if you’re a local in need of a getaway, here are 7 of the best places to paddleboard in Nashville.
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The Buffalo River stretches for 125 miles through western Tennessee and is an extremely popular waterway for canoeists, kayakers, and paddle boarders. Depending on the season you visit, you’ll either be greeted with trees covered in beautiful brown and orange leaves or fresh green plants that are blossoming and coming to life.
In our opinion, the Buffalo River is a great waterway for paddlers of all abilities. There are sections of the river that experienced paddlers can test their paddling skills on, and there are calm, slow-moving sections that are ideal for beginners or young children.
SUP anglers will also enjoy casting a line and fishing for a wide variety of fish species such as dusky striped shiners, smallmouth bass, and longear sunfish.
For tips on SUP board set ups, check out our article How to Create the Best Paddle Board Fishing Set Up: Join the SUP Fishing Club.
The Cumberland River really offers up the best of both worlds. Relaxing stretches of tree-lined water, and opportunities to paddle right alongside the hustle and bustle of the music city.
If you’re visiting Nashville TN for only a short period of time, the Cumberland River is a fantastic SUP location as it is only a stone’s throw away from the main city center. The Riverfront Park and Shelby Park are favorite launch points amongst paddlers, as they both provide upstream and downstream paddles.
Over recent years, the Cumberland River Compact has been working to tackle the river's water pollution problems. Their work not only impacts the river's numerous fish species but also enhances the paddling experience of paddlers such as yourself. No one likes paddling in dirty water, right?
As the Cumberland River can sometimes be busy with commercial boat traffic it’s best to keep an eye out and stay out of the way while paddling along the river.
Just west of downtown Nashville is the class I Harpeth River which is a popular paddling and floating spot for Nashville locals. Come summertime, the river is jam-packed with tubers and paddlers who plan to escape the heat and enjoy a much-needed break from life.
Along the Harpeth River, there are numerous access sites that you can launch your SUP from and the waters in the river are suitable for paddlers in the beginner or advanced levels. If you’d prefer a quieter paddling experience, try launching your SUP by the Harris Street Bridge or on the Narrows.
For paddlers who prefer the calm tranquil waters of lakes, then the Old Hickory Lake just northeast of downtown Nashville will provide just that.
The Cumberland River flows into the man-made reservoir known as Old Hickory Lake and due to reservoirs' flat water, it has become a frequented paddling spot for paddlers of all kinds.
Still waters like the ones at Old Hickory are ideal for practicing SUP activities like SUP yoga and SUP fishing. Because of this, many anglers flock to the lake to enjoy casting their reel and patiently waiting for a bite from largemouth bass, flathead catfish, and spotted bass, amongst others.
Regardless of why you visit Old Hickory, it’s best to wait around until sunset. There is nothing quite so magical as relaxing on your board while the sun goes down and projects an orange-pinky tint over the water and throughout the sky. Old Hickory is known for its incredible sunsets, so grab your SUP and get front row seats to one of nature's breathtaking shows.
Percy Priest Lake is just 10 minutes outside of Nashville’s city center so you really don’t have to venture out far to launch your SUP and enjoy an afternoon in nature.
The lake is a reservoir formed by the Stones River and has become a popular fishing spot due to the large number of bass, crappie, and bluegills that call the lake home.
Campgrounds and parks are available at the lake making it an ideal location if you need a weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.
South of Nashville center is the Radnor Lake State Park which is home to the Radnor Lake and an abundance of unique wildlife species. The park is protected as a Class II Natural Area so if paddling and animal watching is up your street, then the Radnor Lake State Park is the place to be.
Owls, herons, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals such as otter and mink are regularly spotted surrounding the waters of Radnor Lake, as well as a diverse range of plants, trees, and shrubs. The Radnor Lake State Park is truly a nature enthusiasts' paradise, and what better way to see it than from the water.
The Stones River is a lesser frequented paddling spot that prohibits the use of motorized vessels. Unlike the larger Cumberland River, you won’t need to worry about boat traffic. On particularly quiet days, you probably won’t even see other paddlers.
Tall flourishing trees, an abundance of wildlife, and picturesque views can all be explored and enjoyed from the comfort of your SUP. As the current in the river is relatively weak, paddling upstream or downstream should be no issue for beginner or young paddlers.
At certain points of the river, however, the water can get relatively shallow, so it’s highly recommended to take an inflatable SUP or to pay close attention to the water’s depth.
Paddle boarding in Nashville has gained popularity over recent years and many locals and tourists combined are enjoying launching their SUPs on one the city's numerous waterways.
Yes! The Percy Priest Lake is a fantastic paddle boarding location with over 10,000 acres of still waters to explore. The sloping edges of the lake make ideal launching points for SUPs, so paddlers of all abilities can practice their skills out on the water.
Nashville is home to numerous paddling locations that are suited for all abilities. Here are 7 of Nashville’s top SUP locations:
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