As July turns into August and the excitement of a new school year begins to make summer a memory, there are still several great warm weather events taking place at Montgomery Bell State Park to enjoy before heading back to the books.
The park is a great get away even for those who are not looking for special end-of- summer activities. There are wonderful nature trails, a swimming pool, as well as a “beach” on the lake, mountain bike trails, and boats for rent, including paddle boats. For those who are looking for a quick local getaway before Fall craziness, there is a lodge, cabins and a campground.
As one reviewer said, “I have a lot of memories of Montgomery Bell National Park, and in particular one swimming area that my family went to a lot when I was a kid. I was surprised to pull in and realize that the park is insanely bigger than I originally thought. At over 3,700 acres, I must’ve only really seen maybe 100 acres, and the same 100 acres over and over as a kid. I was super excited to explore more…There’s still a ton to do, …so I’ll be back.”
Originally the home of Tennessee’s iron industry, the park is named after the industrialist Montgomery Bell who became known as “Tennessee’s First Iron Master”. He manufactured cannon balls for the War of 1812 and farm tools, becoming the richest man in the South previous to the Civil War. He began freeing his slaves long before the war broke out but was not able to get them all freed before his death in 1855. Remnants of the iron works are still onsite, as well as the Cumberland Presbyterian Church which was founded on the property in 1810 initially in a log cabin.
The park was originally part of a WPA program during the Great Depression, providing much needed jobs at that time. The area was given to the state as a park in 1943. Since that time, many activities have been added to the park schedule during the year. Here are several events happening before Labor Day.
Harpeth River Canoe Float
Pre-register of this popular half-day, four-hour guided float down the Harpeth River. Park Rangers will share their knowledge about the park’s breathtaking natural surroundings and interesting history of the area. This will be a three or four-hour interpretive program.
Participants will meet at the Montgomery Bell State Park office at 9:00 a.m., and then car pool to the Harpeth River. The park will provide canoes, life jackets, paddles, a bottle of water and light snacks. The fee is $20 per person. There will be two people per canoe. Make sure to dress in clothing and shoes that can get wet. A change of clothing for after the canoe tour, a towel and lunch should also be brought along in waterproof containers. Upper body strength is needed, as participants will have to help load and unload their canoe, and be able to paddle for several hours. No children under ten years of age, personal boats or pets are allowed. There are no refunds the day of the float. Space is limited.
August 20 and September 3
Golf Cart Safari
A great way to learn about the flora and fauna of the area, participants may see fox, squirrel, raccoon, opossum, deer and a wide variety of birds and wildflowers. Ranger Eric will head the golf cart tour of the Montgomery Bell Golf Course. He will share some of the history of the park as well as point out some wildlife and talk about their life in the wild. This all takes place on the golf course from the convenience of a golf cart.
All ages welcome. The cost of the event is $8.00 per person with a maximum capacity of two people in each golf cart. Registration is required for the tour by the day before departure. Registration can be completed online, by calling the park office or at the park office in person. No pets are allowed on the tour.
When not being used for tours, the golf course offers wide fairways, few bunkers, and hardly any water hazards. The staff even packs coolers full of iced water bottles on hot summer days.
“The Park is definitely the “Queen of the State Parks” as stated on the website,” noted another reviewer.