Old Stone Fort Park

Just a Stone's Throw Away

Article by Julie Brown Patton

Photography by Courtesy of Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park

Originally published in Green Hills Lifestyle

While there’s not an actual fort at the "Old Stone Fort" location in Manchester, it's home to a fascinating archaeological site constructed almost two millennia ago—a spectacular setting used by Native Americans for five centuries as a ceremonial gathering spot. Visitors today can walk trails along the walls of the sacred site.

The Old Stone Fort was believed to be built 1,500 to 2,000 years ago during the Middle Woodland Period. Native Americans used this area continuously for about 500 years, eventually leaving it abandoned, says Old Stone Park Ranger Leigh Gardner. By the time European settlers arrived, it was unclear for what the area had been used, which resulted in it being misnamed as a fort.

In 1966, Tennessee purchased 400 acres of the Chumley estate as the core of what's now Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park.

The park is approximately 63 miles southeast from Nashville, making it both an attractive 1-hour drive and pleasant getaway. 

Park staffers provide an abundance of activities for guests to enjoy. The main hiking trail follows the wall of Old Stone Fort. While it's level, it's unpaved and is too rooty and rugged for strollers or wheelchairs. The trail threads through dramatic scenery where the original entrance of the fort can be seen. It was designed to face the exact spot on the horizon where the sun rises during the summer solstice. 

Visitors can learn all about the Old Stone Fort on a hike with 12 interpretive panels, as well as enjoying the area's graceful waterfalls. This location also draws bird enthusiasts, fish anglers and campers to 51 campsites.

The Old Stone Fort attracts history enthusiasts from all over, says Leigh. The park’s museum consists of displays of prehistoric Native American replicas as well as dioramas and photos. The exhibits provide information on the theories regarding the enclosure’s builders, archaeological excavations at the site and the culture of its builders. There's a small theater for viewing an orientation film and other videos as well as group presentations.

The museum also houses the welcome center, park office and gift shop. Leigh says the museum is still open while it's currently being renovated. 

The Old Stone Fort Museum Rooftop outdoor space can be rented for $200 per day. Located atop the museum, this venue is surrounded by trees and features remarkable stone floors and walls. Tables and chairs also are available to rent with this space for an additional fee.

The park's staff provides various special events throughout the year, and the next featured one occurs July 12, Pathfinder Advanced Camp. This advanced overnight camp is designed for teenagers 13-15 years old. It's for two evenings and is geared for those who want a little bit of a challenge during their summer camp experience. During this camp, participants learn basic and primitive fire-starting skills, compass navigation and orientation, flat water paddle techniques, fishing on the river and other outdoor survival details. Included in the registration fee are two dinners, two breakfasts, one lunch and snacks throughout the day, as well as a commemorative park T-shirt. Pricing for this camp is $40 per camper and $20 per accompanying adult, although parents/adults are not required to attend.

Those interested in overall camping need to reserve spots before October, which is when Leigh says the park's campgrounds will close for several months' worth of renovations. 

732 Stone Fort Drive

Park GPS Coordinates:  35.4863, -86.1026



"Visitors really appreciate that our trails are rated easy to moderate. All on our main Enclosure Trail, they can see the history of the site, our three waterfalls and the Native American mound."

—Leigh Gardner, Old Stone park ranger


On The Road Again
Willie Nelson

Life Is A Highway
Tom Cochrane

I've Been Everywhere
Johnny Cash

Little Red Corvette

Adventure Of A Lifetime

Take It Easy

Time Of Your Life
Green Day

Road Trippin’
Red Hot Chili Peppers

Nashville Without You
Tim McGraw


  1. Driver's license and vehicle registration
  2. Hand sanitizer
  3. Swiss Army knife
  4. Reusable water bottle and extra water
  5. First aid kit
  6. Blanket
  7. Bug repellent
  8. Snack selection—such as beef jerky, fruit, trail mix, sunflower seeds, chocolate-covered espresso beans, animal crackers, Bugles corn chips, pretzel sticks and gummy worms.
  9. Smiles!

Related Businesses

Union Station


Union Station

Kansas City, MO

Architectural Masterpiece. A place for great adventure. Where Kansas City Connects. These phrases—and more—are regularly used...

Overland Park Arboretum And Botanical Gardens

Parks + Camping

Overland Park Arboretum And Botanical Gardens

Bucyrus, KS

At the Arboretum, visitors may experience and explore 13 gardens with more than 1,700 species of plants, trails that traverse...

Parc Duluth

Hotels + Motels

Parc Duluth

Duluth, GA

As the leader in hospitality-enriched senior living, Parc Communities specializes in developing and operating high-end senior...

See More

Related Articles

See More