Henry Horton State Park: The Complete Guide

The Duck River at Henry Horton State Park

Michael Hicks / Flickr

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Henry Horton State Park

4209 Nashville Hwy, Chapel Hill, TN 37034-2127, USA
Phone +1 931-364-2222

Nashville's legendary music scene, coupled with its excellent nightlife and amazing restaurants, has made it a very popular destination for travelers in recent years. But there is more to the Music City than just Honky Tonks and hot chicken. In fact, if you wander a bit outside of town, you'll find several state and local parks that offer a blissful respite from the glitz and noise found on South Broadway.

Four-season outdoor enthusiasts will find Henry Horton State Park to their liking, as the 1,500-acre parcel of land provides plenty of things to see and do all year long. For instance, the spring is a popular time for birders looking to spot some of the more elusive species while they're sitting on their nests. Summer brings plenty of heat, which makes swimming in the park's pool—or floating down the Duck River—all the more enticing. In autumn, the leaves start to change, casting the dense forests in an all new light, while winter brings peace and solitude to an otherwise very busy environment.

If you're looking to avoid crowds, early spring, late fall, and winter are the best times to visit. Spring can bring heavy and frequent rain storms, but overall the weather is mild and manageable during those times of the year. Weekends can still see a sizable number of visitors on occasion, but during the week it is often very quiet and all but deserted.

The busy summer travel season usually results in a very crowded park, particularly from Memorial Day to Labor Day, That includes weekdays as well, with trails, sports venues, and the golf course quite busy. If you do visit during the summer, keep in mind that Tennessee's heat and humidity can be intense, so be sure to bring a bottle of water and stay well hydrated.

Continue reading to plan your visit to Henry Horton State Park, with information on things to do, where to stay, and how to get there.

History and Location

Built on the estate of former Tennessee governor Henry Hollis Horton, the park is located just outside the town of Chapel Hill, TN. The charming community sits among the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee, while the park itself is located along the ecologically-diverse Duck River.

Construction began on Henry Horton State Park in the early 1960s; over the years it has expanded to offer an impressive array of amenities for visitors. These include a number of hiking trails and campsites, along with a conference center, lodge, and even an 18-hole, championship-level golf course.

A golfer lines up for a drive off the tee.

Tennessee Parks Department

Things to Do

Travelers will find no shortage of things to see and do while visiting Henry Horton State Park. Here are the top activities you can take part in.


Hikers will find more than 10 miles of trail to explore, with routes passing through diverse ecosystems ranging from oak and hickory forest to open fields and meadows. Most of the trails provide good views of the Duck River along the way; all are easy to follow and suitable for the entire family.


The park is home to the Buford Ellington Golf Course. The 18-hole, 72-par course offers a good challenge, with tight fairways lined with hardwood forests and deep bunkers. Carts and equipment can be rented at the club house, and an on-premises driving range and putting green allows golfers to work on their game while waiting for their tee time.


Anglers can try their luck along the Duck River. Both smallmouth and largemouth bass can be found in abundance there, as well as catfish and redeye. The fishing is great right from the riverbank, although small boats are allowed as well. There are even a few sections of the Duck that can accommodate fly fishing, too.


Because the park is considered one of the most ecologically diverse landscapes in the country, it also happens to be a top destination for birders. More than 70 different avian species make their home along the Duck River, including large hurons, white belted kingfishers, red-tailed hawks, Carolina chickadees, and golden-crowned kinglets. Bring your binoculars and head to the 20-foot-tall observation tower to spot these wild and colorful creatures.

Play Sports

Those looking to beat the warm and humid Tennessee weather can take a dip in the park's Olympic-sized swimming pool. There are also several baseball diamonds, as well as tennis and basketball courts, located inside the park. Some of the more unique activities here include trap and skeet shooting, disc golfing, and going on guided river trips along the Duck River in a kayak.

Henry Horton Trail

Tennessee Parks Department

Where to Stay

The vast majority of travelers will most likely stay in one of the many hotels in Nashville and just visit the park for a brief day trip. Those who are looking to spend a little more time here have a few other choices, though.

The Lodge Henry Horton allows visitors to actually spend the night in the park itself, making some of the local activities—including a round or two of golf—easier to take in. The lodge is pet friendly, includes free WiFi and satellite TV, and features a year-round indoor pool.

Another popular place to stay inside the park is in one of Henry Horton's cabins. Situated along the banks of the river, the eight cabins range from rustic to fully furnished and comfortable. Some of the cabins can accommodate several couples or a large family, and two of them are even pet friendly. Prices vary from $100 to $280 per night, depending on the cabin.

If you're the kind of traveler who prefers spending your nights in a tent rather than a hotel or cabin, the park has you covered. With 75 individual campsites (21 of which are primitive) available, there is usually plenty of room to accommodate all visitors. The sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, with a two-week limit on the length of your stay.

Where to Eat

Refurbished for 2021, the Restaurant at Henry Horton is the park's most popular place for a sit-down meal. As such, it can get quite crowded at times, although the menu of Americana favorites is tasty, convenient, and affordable.

Nearby Chapel Hill has a number of places to eat, and is located just a few miles from the park. If you're just looking to satisfy the munchies, snacks and drinks can be found in the club house at the Buford Ellington Golf Course.

How to Get There

Most visitors to Henry Horton State Park will arrive from Nashville. To get there, head south on I-40E/I-65 S, staying on Interstate 65 all the way to Exit 34. From there, turn east on I-840 E towards Chapel Hill, staying on Arno-Allison Rd to US-31. Signs will point travelers in the right direction, taking them straight to the park's easy-to-find front gate.

The trip from Nashville to the park takes less than an hour to complete, making it very accessible for anyone heading out of the city. The return trip is equally as quick, which helps to enhance the park's reputation as an excellent destination for an easy day trip.

Some travelers will make the journey to the park from the south, driving out of Huntsville, AL instead. That drive is about an hour and a half in length and follows US-231 N/US-431 N to TN-271N. The route intersects with US-31, which once again directs visitors to the park entrance.

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Henry Horton State Park: The Complete Guide