Tennessee is a sprawling state with many state parks due to the lush forests. Sixty minutes from Nashville is Clarksville. One and a half miles outside of this town is Dunbar Cave. Dunbar Cave is the most prominent of the Tennessee caves in the area. It has a naturally wide opening, which used to be used for square dances, radio shows, and big band concerts.
The cave is available to see year round, but there are specific times of the year you can go on a cave hiking tour. From August 12th to the 30th each year are tour led cave hikes beginning at 1pm on Wednesday, and 1pm and 3pm on Saturday and Sunday. In September cave hikes are offered on Saturday and Sundays only. There are three cave hikes on Labor Day each year, starting at 10am. October also allows for cave hikes and a special party at Halloween. It is the Friends of Dunbar Cave Halloween event. Trips are taken into the cave for funny little skits. They begin at 5pm and end at 8pm, with the skits lasting 20 minutes. For anyone wishing to take a Dunbar Cave tour, reservations should be made in advance.
The hike takes one and a half hours. It is recommended that children should be at least three years of age. It is difficult to carry younger children through the cave since strollers and packs are not allowed. Photography is also not allowed inside the cave. All visitors must be at the tourist center fifteen minutes prior to the hike's start. It is $5 per person, and $2 for the flashlights. The state park around the cave is open from 8am till sunset.
Dunbar Cave is not the only place in the area one should visit. The Dunbar Cave State Park has a number of activities for visitors to enjoy. Fishing is available at Swan Lake. The lake is 15 acres in size so boating and swimming are not permitted. A fishing license is required. The lake is fed by a clear stream that flows from the mouth of Dunbar Cave.
There are three hiking trails around Dunbar Cave. Visitors can take the Lake Trail which is .67 miles and partially paved. There is also the Short Loop at 1.1 miles. It is considered a moderate hiking trail. Lastly is the Recovery Trail at 1.9 miles and moderate difficulty. All of the trails begin at the Visitors Center.
The state park is 110 acres of land in Montgomery County. The park is honeycombed by caves and sinkholes. Some of these caves can also be visited. Dunbar Cave is an 8.1 mile cave with historical, natural, archaeological, and geological significance. Excavations of the cave revealed that for thousands of years it was inhabited by man due to the flow of natural air conditioning and water sources. Picnics around the cave are welcome, and it is possible to overlook that lake from one of the seven picnic tables on site at Dunbar Cave State Park.
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