Pets allowed
Allowed
Guided tours
No
Backcountry camping
No
Lodging
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Port Royal is a small state park located less than an hour away from Nashville. Although actives including fishing, boating, picnicking and hiking are to be found here, the real beauty of Port Royal is its history. 

This area was home to one of the earliest and most populous colonial communities and trading posts in Middle Tennessee. First settled in the 1780s, the town of Port Royal was eventually founded in 1797. Port Royal’s location at the confluence of the Red River and Sulphur Fork Creek made it an important center of commerce in the early part of the 19th century. The town served as the central tobacco inspection point and warehouse for the region. Port Royal also manufactured flatboats, and these were used to transport goods to cities as far away as New Orleans. In addition, an important stagecoach route that ran from Tennessee to Illinois passed right though Port Royal.

After the Civil War, the once bustling town of Port Royal slowly turned into nothing more than a small farming community. Today you can see some of the remaining foundations of several stores, homes and warehouses as well as an early Pratt Truss design steel bridge built in 1890 that spans the Sulphur Fork Creek. Only one building is still standing on the property. It served as a lodge, grocery store, and post office from 1859 until the 1950s. Today it serves as the park headquarters and visitor center.

Port Royal is also an official designated site along the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. The Indian Removal Act, passed by congress in 1830, required various Indian tribes to vacate their land in the southeastern U.S. in exchange for federal territory located west of the Mississippi. The Trail of Tears commemorates the removal of the Cherokee Indians from their homeland to this new “Indian Territory.” From 1838 to 1839 the Cherokee were marched westward. Many died. Port Royal was recorded as an encampment site for the Indians, and it was the last stop before leaving Tennessee. 

A short section (about 300 yards long) of the Trail of Tears is preserved here in the park.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Enjoyable park with short hiking trails. Picnic area. River access and lots of history.

Cons

Light road noise from nearby highway.

Features

Off-leash dog area
Historically significant
Wildlife
Family friendly
Flushing toilets
Fishing
Picnic tables
Near lake or river
Bird watching

Location

Field Guide

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