On the south side of Nashville, between the grand old houses on Granny White Pike and the traffic-laden lanes of Highway 65, lies a hidden Tennessee treasure. Radnor Lake State Park occupies an area of Nashville that has seen civil war skirmishes, cradled a reservoir for the L & N Railroad, and eventually became a shelter for a variety of wildlife. It has almost eight miles of trails, a truly beautiful lake, eagles, herons, turtles, and a variety of flora.
My husband and I were quarantined over the 4th of July. Although we were disappointed to miss friends, barbecue, and fireworks, we used the opportunity to spend some time together outdoors. We drove to Radnor in the morning thinking we were missing the crazy heat and humidity of Tennessee in the summer. Funny. One step outside of the car proved that there is no such thing.
Within steps of the parking lot, a sweet shady trail welcomed us. Families were out enjoying the trail. One little girl assured us that there was a turkey just around the corner. “Say hi to the turkey,” she encouraged. It was a blue heron, her Daddy assured us. And around the corner, there he was, perched on a branch like a king surveying his kingdom. He was stunning. And didn’t mind posing for photos.
We walked the lake trail. It is just over a mile with glimpses here and there of the lake through dense, sunlight-dappled trees. We came upon couples taking a leisurely stroll, serious hikers clad in sports gear, dog walkers with their tangled leashes, and happy turtles sunning themselves on dead logs in a bright green pond.
The sunlight filtering through the leaves and the reflection of the clouds on the water, oh my.
It is the epitome of peace and tranquility. It was the perfect, in-city getaway.
On the way home we were talking about those turtles sunning in that pond. We had counted about twenty of them all covered head to tail in green algae. As green as there were, they seemed happy to be lined up on the logs enjoying the sunshine. All in a row…like pecans on a cake.
Of course, my mind immediately went to desserts. Dense chocolate, sweet caramel, nutty turtles. As soon as we got home, I made a turtle cake. It was a humble poke cake that can be made simply with store-bought ingredients or gourmet with homemade cake, salted caramel, and whipped cream. I did a combination using a cake mix and Ghiradelli salted caramel with homemade whipped cream.
I highly recommend a stroll or hike through Radnor Lake State Park. Its tranquil setting makes a great counterpoint to the happy chaos of downtown Nashville. But if you can’t go yourself, take a little inspiration from this recipe for Radnor Lake Turtle Cake.
Radnor Lake State Park
1160 Otter Creek Road
Nashville, TN 37220
Radnor Lake Turtle Cake