This spring, my mom and I spent a weekend at Montgomery Bell State Park. I chose Montgomery Bell because it’s less than an hour from Nashville, and its lodge and restaurant were just fully renovated.
We had high hopes for our getaway but just didn’t know what to expect. My mom had never been to this park before, and neither of us had ever stayed at a lodge in a Tennessee State Park. I’m pleased to report that our trip was a success! We loved our time in the park and were impressed with the lodge and its restaurant. The lobby has a wall of windows showing Lake Acorn; the bar and restaurant are behind the fireplace:
We arrived at the lodge midday on a Saturday. We had a great lunch at the restaurant and then set out to hike in the park.
We decided to take the Wildcat Trail to the Ore Pit Trail loop; together these two trails are almost three miles. We left straight from the lodge, crossed the parking lot, and walked across a bridge connecting the shores of the lake.
Because we were busy talking, we missed our turn onto the Wildcat Trail but found it again after passing the cabins and following the road.
On the Ore Pit Trail, we saw a log house replica where the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was founded in the first decade of the 19th century. (1) A small chapel is next to this cabin.
We had beautiful weather and took full advantage of it. After our hike, we relaxed with some coffee on a long porch outside of the lodge lobby and restaurant.
At the end of the lodge, the porch extends over Lake Acorn. Beautiful views!
This porch filled up around dinnertime. I was initially surprised at how busy it was but soon learned why. The restaurant has delicious food at a great price. I had a cheeseburger and fries, and it was truly one of the best burgers I’ve had in awhile.
We took hot fudge brownie sundaes up to our room and ate them on our balcony while enjoying our view. Every room in the lodge has a view of Lake Acorn.
We were very comfortable in our room; I kept forgetting that we were in a state park because I felt like we were in a hotel.
I loved the lodge's version of a "Do Not Disturb" sign. I think these should be sold in the lobby gift shop.
The next day we wanted to fit in one more hike before heading home and decided to hike the Jim Bailey Nature Trail. This path is less than a mile, and while it technically begins and ends in different places, you can treat it as a loop. The trail begins close to one side of the Visitor’s Center and ends on the Center’s other side. It’s named after James Lovell Bailey, a Tennessee Department of Conservation employee involved in conservation education. (2)
This trail definitely continues Mr. Bailey’s endeavors to educate; it features special panels designed to help children learn about nature.
I was especially glad to see wooden plaques along the trail displaying the Seven Leave No Trace Principles; this is a perfect opportunity to start teaching children the importance of taking care of the land while we enjoy it. I couldn’t find the sixth principle, Respect Wildlife (3); this plaque must have been damaged or removed.
On our way home, we stopped at a little restaurant not far from the park called Hog Heaven. I had delicious pancakes and home fries for breakfast; check it out next time you visit Montgomery Bell State Park!
Plaque on log cabin replica and https://tnstateparks.com/parks/info/montgomery-bell
From Visitor’s Center brochure entitled “The Jim Bailey Nature Trail”
* I did not receive compensation for this post.