Pick 6: Country Artist Canaan Smith Talks New Album & Picks His 6 Favorite Places to Hike

by Jim Casey
photo courtesy Canaan Smith

If you follow country artist Canaan Smith on Instagram or Twitter, it’s pretty clear he likes spending time in the great outdoors. When Canaan isn’t cutting country songs, he’s exploring nature—oftentimes with his wife, Christy, and their 19-month-old daughter.

Canaan dropped his debut album, Bronco, in 2015. Buoyed by No. 1 single, “Love You Like That,” the album reached No. 4 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart.

In April 2021, Canaan released his sophomore album, High Country Sound, via Round Here Records. The label was founded by Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, who tapped Canaan as the label’s flagship artist.

“With the new album, I took time to reset and figure out what was important to me musically,” said Canaan Smith to Outsider. “It shifted my goals a little bit. Taking the time made it feel natural and authentic. I didn’t feel like I was required to check any boxes. The guys [Tyler and Brian] let me show my strengths as a songwriting and storyteller. It was a different headspace. It took six years to make, but it’s a project I’m proud of, and it has been so rewarding. It’s a win for me, already.”

Canaan’s love of the outdoors is evident throughout the 13-song offering (all of which he co-wrote), including “Cabin in the Woods,” “High Country,” and “Catch Me If You Can,” which features Brent Cobb.

Pick 6

For Outsider‘s Pick 6 series, we tasked Canaan to pick his six favorite spots around the country to hike. The Nashville resident chose locations near and far, from destinations in Music City to the West Coast and more.

1. Percy Warner Park: Nashville, TN

Canaan: “Well, locally, it’s hard to beat the trails at Percy Warner Park. There’s so many, and they have really great, mature, hardwood trees. Lots of beautiful trees like Sycamores. Beautiful hikes and easy to get to. And you know, we’ve got the baby girl [Virginia Rose Smith, 19 months] now, so that’s a consideration. And it’s a hike we can bring her to and carry her on and still have a great time.”

2. Radnor Lake: Nashville, TN

Canaan: “Like Percy Warner, Radnor Lake is another local one for us. Many of the same reasons. Just beautiful. The Ganier Ridge Trail Loop is about two miles or so. It’s another perfect spot if you want to go clear your head for a couple of hours. Or if you need to get the baby girl out of the house for a couple hours for some fresh air. A lot of people don’t think of Nashville as having scenic trails, but we’re lucky to have places like Percy and Radnor.”

3. Stone Door: Beersheba Springs, TN

Canaan: “This one is a pretty easy drive from Nashville. You only have to go about an hour and 45 minutes to get to Stone Door [in South Cumberland State Park]. Which is one of my favorite campgrounds and hikes. Really cool trails. It feels like it transports you out West a little bit. The grandeur of that stone. Those stone walls are amazing. The steps that cut through it walking down, pretty impressive. Amazing views. And it’s a easy to get to, but very scenic. It’s a hidden spot. I love that type of place.”

4. Enchanted Valley, Olympic National Park: Port Angeles, WA

Canaan: “And as far as traveling, backpacking trips, I did the Enchanted Valley in Olympic National. That’s the most scenic, kind of otherworldly view I’ve ever experienced. It lives up to its ‘enchanted’ name. Otherworldly is the best description. Basically, because it’s a high valley and it’s 360 surrounded by snow caps that are melting right now, and making these waterfalls that start at the top and go all the way down. And at the bottom of the valley, there’s bears. Tons of black bears just chilling, and there’s packs of elk. There’s this old 1920 chalet cabin that they built. This family built and operated it as a resort in the 1920s when it was their property. Then the government bought and converted it to a national park property and they just left the chalet there. And so it’s now a ranger station.”

5. Angels Landing Trail, Zion National Park: Springdale, UT

Canaan: “The other one that’s otherworldly for me was the Angles Landing Trail at Zion National. All those views along there—they named it perfect. ‘Angels’ is so appropriate because it’s just so stunning. It was hard to believe that your eyes were seeing what they were seeing.”

6. Scout Lake Hike, Deschutes National Forest: Sisters, OR

Canaan: “One of the best trails that I’ve ever done personally—and not for difficulty—but for seeing really remote and beautiful terrain is the Scout Lake Hike. And just the national parks in Oregon—like the Willamette area—are so cool. We went in, I was with a buddy of mine on a backpacking trip there. And I think it was early September and all the wild flowers had just bloomed and the weather was awesome. It was right before the wildfires [in 2020], two weeks before that. I got to see how beautiful that was just before that happened. You get to this awesome, pristine lake with the mountains right behind it. The cool thing about those trails, they’re really narrow meadow trails. And that’s just cool. I like that. I’m usually the opposite. I liked doing the rock terrain, the incline elevation gain, but the meadow trails were awesome.”

photo courtesy Canaan Smith