With engagement season right around the corner, I thought this would be the perfect time to share my top 5 favorite state parks and trails in the Middle-Tennessee area to take your engagement photos. These are spots that I've taken my couples to the most through the past couple years, so I'll be letting y'all know the pros and cons of each so you know exactly what to expect before booking! So let's hop right in!
1. Fall Creek Falls State Park
Starting the list off strong is Fall Creek Falls State Park. This is one of my absolute favorite state parks to take my couples to for multiple reasons:
There are multiple waterfalls within the state park with easy access to most of the hikes here. This makes it especially nice for couples who want those epic adventure style photos who might not be big hikers themselves.
Even during the busy months of summer, the sounds of nature and the views are breathtaking. Yes, this may not have anything to do with your session per se, but it definitely gives an amazing vibe while hiking down the trail.
The drive up to the park is amazing! I love when my couples book here, but the drive adds an extra little bit of excitement for me. The views driving up the mountain are phenomenal and the drive offers a mini-adventure all on its own!
Some reasons you may not want to book your engagement session at Fall Creek Falls could be that:
not all the waterfalls are easy access, and some of the waterfalls available at fall creek falls are for more avid hikers. If you're in love with the waterfall in the first photo above, for example, be sure to check with yourself that you're experienced enough for rock scrambling down the literal side of a mountain.
During the summer months (especially on the weekends) it can be a bit crowded with other weekend warriors, so if you're looking to book a session for May-August, consider booking a weekday rather than a weekend, or earlier in the day such as morning rather than in the afternoon.
2. Rock Island State Park
Second on our list is Rock Island State Park, another favorite of mine. Rock Island State Park has one of the most EPIC waterfalls in Middle Tennessee which makes for amazing photos and honestly, it's just an amazing place to spend your time! Two reasons I absolutely love Rock Island State Park for my couples are:
It's an amazing choice for those of you who are wanting breathtaking waterfall engagement photos without having to travel out of state.
It offers easy off-trail access to the falls from the main trail. There is some rock "scrambling" to get down to the falls, but the rocks are flat enough that even my couples who aren't as athletically inclined as avid hikers have an easy time getting down to the falls.
check out the video below for a better idea of what Rock Island State Park offers!
One big reason you may choose not to have your engagement session at Rock Island State Park may be because it's not as safe as the other trails on this list, and I only say this from my own personal experience. Although this is one of my favorite waterfalls in Tennessee, when my couples book this location I always make them aware of the potential dangers. At the base of the waterfalls are multiple rocks, and with the constant flow of water misting the rocks (even more so if it's a rainy day or had rained the previous day) the rocks are extremely slippery.
For example: I took one of my couples out for a session the day after heavy rains. When we were walking to the base of the waterfalls, I slipped on one of the rocks and (protecting my camera) fell onto the corner of a rock wrist and elbow first. My couple was gracious enough to help me back onto my feet, but about 3-4 minutes later after situating into my spot for the angles I wanted to capture, my vision became blurred and the sound of the crashing waterfalls drifted away until I couldn't hear anything. I didn't know it at the time, but apparently I was experiencing shock :D I couldn't move my wrist for over a month. I don't say this to scare you, I just want you to be prepared as best you can! So yes, Rock Island State Park is an absolute dream to shoot at, but if we go together, be sure to wear the appropriate shoes, walk slowly and carefully, and leave a few days in your schedule to be sure we shoot on a sunny (or drier) day!
3. Welch's Point Overlook
Next on our list is Welch's Point Overlook. This is an amazing choice for couples who want those beautiful views but would like to wear something less "hike appropriate." It offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and the river gorge, especially during the summer and fall months. It's also the easiest and shortest hike on this list, at 0.3 miles! So if you're wanting great views without having to walk a long distance, this is definitely a great choice for you!
One reason you may choose not to have your engagement session at Welch's Point could be the fact that it's off a beat up road. If you have an Audi or a Camaro, I wouldn't recommend taking that vehicle to this spot. (If anything, just ask me and we can carpool!) The road to get to this specific trail is made of sand and potholes, and during the summer months with two-way traffic, it can get a bit sketchy to say the least. But, if you have a truck or an SUV you won't have any worries!
4. Narrows of the Harpeth State Park
Next on our list is Narrows of the Harpeth State Park, specifically the Narrows of the Harpeth Trail. This trail is another great choice if you're looking for a beautiful overlook. This trail is a lot closer to Nashville, so if you happen to be from there and don't feel like traveling as far for your engagement photos but still want breathtaking scenery, this is the choice for you! During the summer months it's taken over by greens and blues and makes for the perfect backdrop to any photo!
One reason you may not want to choose Narrows of the Harpeth State Park as your engagement session location may be the hike itself. This is a moderately difficult hike, so if you're not used to steep inclines, I would either skip this option, or leave yourself enough time to walk up slowly and take breaks. It's always important to know your limits so you can enjoy your adventure session safely.
5. Bee Rock Overlook
Last on our list we have Bee Rock Overlook, which is another of my couples' favorites. It offers similar views to Welch's Point and they're nearly identical when it comes to the easiness of the hike. It also has easy access to the trailpoint from the newly graveled parking lot. The trees and the views themselves offer amazing diversity for sessions as well so if you're planning for an outfit change or would just like multiple backdrops to choose from, Bee Rock is a great choice!
One reason you may not want to have your engagement session at Bee Rock Overlook may be that it's a very popular spot for local photographers. Every time I've taken one of my couples out during the summer or fall months, there have been at least two other photographers there with their own couples - which is no biggie, but we will have to wait and be patient for them to finish at certain locations if they were there first. But if you have good patience and don't mind sharing the location with other couples, this is still a solid choice!
Planning Your Own Engagement Session?
I really hoped this list gave you some great location inspiration for your upcoming engagement session! If you're still in the beginning stages of planning your engagement session, elopement, or wedding and haven't found your dream photographer yet, you can fill out my contact form here and we can hop on a quick call to see if we vibe together!
Hot Tip: My most popular wedding/elopement collection comes with a complementary engagement session!
So let's get this amazing adventure started so we can plan the most amazing day ever!