5 Best Places For Paddle Boarding In Nashville

Doug Robichaud | Travel

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5 Best Places For Paddle Boarding In Nashville

Go Paddle Boarding Nashville!

Behind the live music, bright lights, and southern-style food is middle Tennessee's thriving stand up paddle board scene. Believe it or not, paddle boarding in Nashville, T.N. has become extremely popular over the years. That's largely thanks to the handful of amazing bodies of water located within the city limits. Visitors and locals alike are escaping Nashville’s hustle and bustle for the day to enjoy the simple wonders of stand up paddle boarding. 

From Percy Priest Lake to the Cumberland River, you will find your new favorite SUP getaway in just a few miles (or a stone’s throw) away from downtown Nashville.

The Top 5 Paddle Boarding Nashville Spots


1) Cumberland River

Some of the best activities to do in the ‘Music City’ range from exploring the Grand Ole Opry to seeing your favorite artists play live at the iconic Ryman Auditorium. However, a new favorite is to tour Nashville’s lively downtown on a paddle board via the Cumberland River.  

The Cumberland River is the only body of water that is a stone’s throw away from downtown Nashville. From the water, paddlers are treated to a full 360-degree view of the city’s breathtaking skyline. Even better, you will paddle by the famous Broadway strip, Ascend Amphitheater, and Cumberland Park. These popular venues host all the best local honky-tonk and live country music every night.

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There are two ways you can paddle board the Cumberland River – upstream or downstream. Many people enjoy challenging themselves by starting upstream at Riverfront Park located in downtown Nashville. If you decide to launch from Riverfront Park, you’re rewarded with a mellow downstream paddle on the way back. However, if you choose to start your paddle downstream at Shelby Park located just east of downtown, remember that you will have to battle the current upstream on the way back. 

Regardless of where you launch your SUP, you need to be cautious of the commercial boat traffic that navigates the Cumberland River daily. Being prepared means sticking to the outskirts of the river and keeping an eye out for larger vessels. But you got this!


2) Percy Priest Lake

Just 10 minutes outside of downtown Nashville is the waterfront getaway, Percy Priest Lake. If you’re looking for a quick escape into nature, this is the first paddle boarding spot in Nashville you need to explore. 

Covering over 10,000 acres of water, Percy Priest is a flatwater paddle boarding paradise. Launch your paddle board at Percy’s Hamilton Creek to experience the lake’s most tranquil waters. It's also a great SUP spot for beginning paddle boarders and it’s a great area to enjoy some SUP fishing.

For a fun paddle board route, try paddling from Hamilton Creek and going out to Bear Island and Luau Island. Hamilton Creek is the ideal paddle route to bring a lunch in your dry bag and enjoy it on one of the quaint islands.


3) Stones River 

The Stones River is the perfect place to paddle board in Nashville because, unlike the Cumberland River, this river does not allow any motorized vessels on it. Enjoy the Stones River in solitude without a worry about boat traffic. In fact, you can score this river all to yourself on the right day.

The Stones River is a 15-minute drive east from downtown where you and your paddle board will be accompanied by tall flourishing trees, turtles, herons, and gorgeous wildflowers. The loud sounds from the city will be drowned out by chirping birds and a flowing stream of clean water. 

The best launch spot for the Stones River is where the Stone River Greenway meets the east corner of the Kohl’s parking lot off of Jackson Downs Boulevard. It doesn’t matter if you paddle downstream or upstream because the river has a weak current. Keep in mind that the Stones River can be shallow in some areas, so an inflatable SUP will be your best option to avoid damaging your epoxy SUP.


4) Old Hickory Lake

As the Cumberland River weaves its way through Nashville, it eventually opens into a quiet reservoir that many locals know as Old Hickory Lake. Northeast of downtown Nashville, Old Hickory Lake is the go-to paddle board spot on a beautiful sunny day. Relax and enjoy some SUP yoga or take a peaceful paddle along its gentle waters while taking in its wondrous, natural surroundings.  The best time to go paddle boarding on Old Hickory Lake is during sunset. Grab front row seats to Nashville’s spectacular golden hour from your stand up paddle board. In addition, remember to invite friends to share the mesmerizing views.


5) Harpeth River

Due west of Nashville’s downtown is the popular paddle board spot, Harpeth River. In the summer, the Harpeth River is heavily trafficked with people floating lazily downstream on giant doughnut-shaped innertubes. Thanks to the popular Bell’s Bend five-mile float, the Harpeth is a summer hang out for Nashville locals. Therefore, the two best places on the Harpeth to launch your paddle board away from the summer crowds are on the Narrows and Harris Street Bridge.

Wrapping Up: Paddle Boarding Nashville 

Many people don’t realize that there are several stunning bodies of water to stand up paddle board near Nashville. From the calm lakes to the stunning rivers, paddle boarding Nashville will allow you to take a moment away from the chaos and enjoy the simplicities of nature. Above all, you need to paddle up Nashville’s downtown on the Cumberland River.

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