Monday, October 12, 2009

Montgomery Bell State Park

Montgomery Bell State Park, located in Dickson County about 30 miles south west of Nashville, is what the state calls a “resort” park.  There are 7 parks which fit into this classification and they all have lodges, golf courses, trails, and campgrounds.  In other words, they offer more activities than the non-resort parks.

A side trail led to this grave of a small child
At Montgomery Bell the lodge has recently been remodeled and has modern hotel rooms and a wonderful common area facing the 26-acre Lake Acorn.  At the lake there is a picnic area, a sand beach and swimming area open during the summer months.  They also have canoes and paddle boats for rent during warm weather.  Those, of course, were closed today.  There are also two “group camp” areas with small cabins for rent--great for church or club retreats.

View from our lunch log
We were surprised to find the campground crowded until we remember that this is a 3-day weekend for those whose employer is closed for Columbus Day.  The campground is typical of many state parks--large gravel sites with lots of trees.  All of the sites are back-ins, but there are some with full hook-ups and large enough for big rigs.  One side of the campground borders the creek.  There is a large play ground and a softball diamond.

It is one of our “regular” places for hiking.  There is a large 12-mile loop which has a 7-mile option.  We did the 7 miles today.  There are several shorter trails within the park as well as an orienteering course.  We have been going to Montgomery Bell for a couple of decades and have seen some great improvements to the trail system.  My favorite improvement has been the bridges over several creeks.  Many of these bridges have been designed, constructed and installed by boy scouts. Today, we were happy to see the old overnight backcountry shelters are being refurbished.

The area this park occupies has a rich history.  Very near where we parked for our hike today is a replica of the dogtrot style home of Samuel McAdow, one of the founders of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  Rev. McAdow and a couple of friends organized the church in 1810.  Some 150 years later, a small church was erected as a sort of “shrine”.  The church is still active and is a popular place for weddings.

Mr. Montgomery Bell, for whom the park is named, went into the iron business in the middle Tennessee area in the early 1800s.  The Laurel furnace was located on land which is now the park that bears his name.  The ore pits, resembling hugh sink holes, are still visible although they are now grown over with trees.

It was a great day to be outside communing with nature.  Although there was rain in the forecast, we either avoided it or it didn’t happen.  We even got a few glimpses of blue sky.

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