Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Trail Review: Cedars of Lebanon State Park Hidden Springs Trail

Cedars of Lebanon Sinkhole

Cedars of Lebanon sinkhole system
Wizard habitat…?
This is the first of what I hope to be many more posts forthcoming. I've benefitted from others' trail reviews and info, so I figured I'd pay it forward and offer some brief notes on trails, campsites, parks, etc. as I visit them. My goal is to get out A LOT this spring and summer with my camera in tow. So here goes, a brief review of the Hidden Springs Trail at Cedars of Lebanon State Park outside of Nashville, TN.

I should note that despite living in Nashville, only a short drive away, I have long neglected Cedars of Lebanon. It seemed like a small state park that got little attention. It was only on an unexpectedly warm day on February 1st that my girlfriend and I decided to load up the dogs and spend a few hours there. I had read a bit about the sinkholes on the trail but they didn't necessarily sound too interesting. I was wrong. While these features can't compete with mountain bluffs, winding rivers, or expansive lake shores, the beds of limestone and exposed under-earth can be both beautiful and fascinating. These hobbit-like environments are found throughout this trail, and they are much more interesting than your typical woods foliage found in the region. Despite temperatures in the low 60s, ice formations lingered in the earthen holes and stone beds throughout. The opportunity to see root systems and the layering of rock formations typically underfoot is worth the trip. (Please click "read more" below for more trail information and several photographs with notes.)

On the whole, the woods had a bit of a dark, spooky feel with what seed to be more cedars and conifers  (as the name suggests) than the typical deciduous-heavy areas in middle Tennessee. The Hidden Springs loop is marked as 5 miles by the park and is VERY flat and easy. It was not especially crowded despite the unusually beautiful day that sprang forth amidst the typical bleak and dreary winter doldrums. The park also offers horse trails which are clearly marked and separate from the hiking trails (though the trails do intersect each other.) Despite this clearly marked segregation, we did see one horse and rider on a section of this hiking trail. This certainly didn't bother us, but for those with skittish dogs (or horse phobias), take note. 

The one caveat I would caution is that these are low lying areas that I suspect are quite prone to mud and muck during rainy seasons. In fact, there was a fair amount of mud during our hike despite the fact that the weather had been quite dry for some time before our visit. Other than that, I highly recommend this trail to those in the region, and I look forward to returning later in the year myself to get a feel for the trail during blooming season. 
Cedars of Lebanon Hidden Springs Trail SIgn
I think taking a clockwise path, starting to the left of the sign, is the best route.

Cedars of Lebanon Limestone Bed
Limestone beds are found throughout this hike.

Cedars of Lebanon Large Sinkhole
Unfortunately, the scale of this sinkhole is not apparent here. The hole is a good 5-6 feet in diameter. It could easily swallow a person (or dog as I noticed with a heart pang as my dog was a little too curious around it.)

Cedars of Lebanon Trees
These woods have a distinct and pleasantly spooky vibe, at least in winter.

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