If you are looking for a state park with great campsites and plenty of activities to keep busy, then Cedars Of Lebanon State Park in Tennessee is the State Park for you.
All You Need To Know About Cedars Of Lebanon State Park
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After our full day of exploring Nashville earlier this year, my husband Jack and I drove roughly forty-five minutes east to Cedars of Lebanon State Park where we spent two nights camping and one full day exploring the park.
We arrived just before dark the first night so we didn’t get out of our truck camper. We went to bed early, knowing that we wanted to wake up early the next day and spend the entire day experiencing what Lebanon State Park has to offer.
Limestones Sinks Self-Guided Nature Trail
The next morning we headed out on foot towards the beginning of the Limestones Sinks Trail. This trail is a very short half-mile loop that is full of interesting limestone sink rock formations.
Our three must-haves for day hikes:
- A daypack: We have been using one like this, but I am switching to this one as I wanted something big enough to fit those layers we are always taking on and off. Plus, the new one has more room for water for the two of us.
- Plenty of water: We like to bring one CamelBak water bottle and if we are going on a longer hike, we bring along this classic hiking water bottle as well.
- A few snacks: I am a big fan of Clif bars (you can get them at a reasonable price when you buy them through Amazon Subscribe and Save), but Jack prefers Nature’s Bakery fig bars.
That is me in the picture above this one standing in a limestone sink and if you look very closely you will see what this second picture clearly shows–I am wearing two different shoes.
People! This is not a quirky fashion statement or me trying to relive my toddler years. Nope, instead, it is a result of forgetting about needing old shoes that could get dirty in case the trails were muddy until minutes before we were planning on leaving. In my rush, I grabbed what I thought was a pair of last season’s running shoes, but instead was my old pair, and the other was my current pair for running (and yes, I am a Brook’s running shoe fan–this is my favorite type). Thankfully the Lord was merciful, and I grabbed a left one and a right one. The chances of that are slim so I consider it a God thing.
We live in a mid-western town so we have seen a sinkhole or two, but nothing like this! I am used to them being the size of a large pothole, not so big that you can climb down in them and take a better look at the rock layers that make up the walls.
After exploring a few sinkholes, we came across a tree with the biggest burl I have ever seen. I did some research for the writing of this post and found out that this tree is named Knucklehead and is an old-growth oak.
Hidden Springs Trail
Shortly after stumbling upon Knucklehead, we found a sign to the Hidden Springs Trail that we wanted to do after the Limestone Sinks Trail, so we decided to just hop on that trail right there.
The Hidden Springs in Cedars Of Lebanon State Park
The main sight to see on the Hidden Springs Trail are the two sinkholes where you can hear the water rushing from one to the other. One is fenced off, but the other one is not so if you are going to hike here with curious kids, make sure you keep them close by at all times.
The two sinkholes are located on either side of a dry creek bed. I assume that during times of heavy rainfall, this creek bed is full of water.
Fossils Found In Cedars Of Lebanon State Park
We spent some time walking up and down the rocky creek bed and, while doing so, found two tiny fossils of shells. I had no idea that there were any to be found in Cedars of Lebanon State Park.
Jackson Cave Trail
After lunch and a bit of downtime at the campground, we headed out to see the opening of Jackson Cave Trail. You cannot go deep into the cave without a tour guide, and the cave is only open at the manager’s discretion as it is often too wet to travel through. I am not sure I would want to go through it, though, as it looks like it would be a crawl on your belly type cave, and that is not my thing–I could see Jack liking it though.
The Cedar Forest Lodge
My husband and I love the work done across the United States of America as part of work projects run by both state and federal government during the great depression. These projects are incredible examples of the workmanship that can withstand time. Cedars Lodge within Cedars Of Lebanon State Park is a result of one of these initiatives. The building was built by workers of The Workers Project Administrations of Tennessee during the depression.
We so badly wanted to peek inside the building and have a look at its beautiful interior woodwork. You can rent the lodge for small weddings and gatherings–what a lovely setting for such an event.
The Campground In Cedars Of Lebanon State Park
We spent two nights camping in the campground within Cedars of Lebanon State Park and WOW! What a campground! We have stayed at many a state park over the years, and this campground is by far one of the nicest we have ever stayed at.
The campsites were level and paved. They all had a fire pit and a picnic table. Most like ours had trees nearby that you could hang a hammock on (mine is a cotton style similar to this one). There was a decent amount of space between each site and the bathrooms were well kept.
The campground store was sparse, but had those most forgotten yet most needed items. Attached to the campground store was a laundry room that surpassed any I have ever seen at a state park campground. It was neat and tidy and had a well-stocked “take one and leave one” library.
If you want to explore the area, including Nashville (45 minutes away), Cedars of Lebanon State Park Campground will make a great home base. With a maximum stay of 14 consecutive nights, you should have plenty of time to explore all the area has to offer.
More Activities And Sites To Enjoy Inside Cedars Of Lebanon State Park
Visit the Sadie Ford Farm–Offers a living history experience for families of an early to mid-twentieth century working farm.
Play a round of disc golf at the disc golf course–The sport of disc golf is family-friendly and relatively inexpensive to get started with. You don’t need an entire set of discs each to play (that can wait until you fall in love with the sport), you can get started with just one mid-range distance disc per person.
Go deep inside the one mile Jackson Cave with a tour guide–Although you can explore the entrance of Jackson cave unguided, you cannot go into the cave without a guide. The cave is not always open for tours, so call ahead if this is the main reason why you want to explore Cedars Of Lebanon State Park.
Go hiking on the other trails not mentioned in this article. We only had one day to explore the trails so we walked the two paths that we were most interested in; there are, however, several more.
Try birding–Over 121 different bird species have been sited in the park.
Hold a party in the Cedars Forest Lodge–You can also book the Assembly hall, Juniper Gazebo, or day-use cabin.
If camping isn’t your thing, but you want to stay in the park, you can book one of the nine two-bedroom cabins that sleep up to five people.
Visit the nature center (open during the summer only).
Visit the butterfly garden–behind the nature center.
Check out the gift shops–there is one inside the visitor’s center and the camp store.
Take a horse for a ride on the 12 miles of horse trails inside the park (apparently there is a private vendor who offers rides at a cost).
Check the website or ask at the visitor center if any special events are going on during your stay. There are a few annual festivals held at the park each year as well as various other programs.
Are you looking for an alternative to busy and expensive campgrounds and one-night Walmart stops on the way to your destination? Check out our post about our first time using Boondockers Welcome.