his unique linear park located along the Harpeth River in Middle Tennessee offers natural, cultural, and recreational day use areas rich in historic significance and natural beauty. Canoe access areas are located at all sites (excluding archeological areas) providing beginner and advanced paddlers opportunities to float this beautiful class II river. Bring your own canoe or kayak or call local commercial outfitters for trip information and boat rentals.
The Harpeth River is a wonderful place to take a family canoe trip. It is usually a gentle river that provides class II rapids, meaning it is suitable for canoeing with young children. My children started canoeing the Harpeth River at 2 years of age and they still enjoy it. We have taken no less than 15 canoe trips down this beloved river. We usually canoe around the Narrows of the Harpeth, but there are many areas of access and you can take trips of varied lengths. To canoe the Narrows, it is usually a 3-4 hour trip, non-stop. We have our own canoe now, but before we did, we would rent one from Tip-a-Canoe, a local canoe company. There are several other outfitters on the Harpeth from which you can rent a canoe if you do not own one.
What makes this an ideal canoe destination is that there are many places where you can stop along side the river to take a break or enjoy a picnic. Also, the water is shallow enough in portions to allow access to swimming, making this an ideal summer activity. There are also several easy hiking trails centered around the park. For a fun, free day outdoors, you can't go wrong with canoeing the Harpeth River.
I've only been there once, and it was 30 or more years ago, but I assume the river hasn't changed. It's a long river, and there are many places to get in and out, but the best is at the "Narrows of the Harpeth," 20-30 mi or so west of Nashville off I-40. There is a 5-mile loop in the river (called "Bell's Bend") allowing you to float for a couple of hours through the countryside and then get back out about a hundred yards from where you got in. This part of the river is flat and placid, ideal for a family outing. I suspect it gets a bit crowded on summer weekends. You can bring your own craft or rent one. The park itself is free, as far as I know.