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Nickajack Lake Tennessee River

When the Tennessee River leaves downtown Chattanooga and the Tennessee River Gorge, it opens up into a vast, 3,000 acre playground called Nickajack Lake.

Photo by David R. Cartlidge

The lake holds treasures like the derelict Hales Bar Dam, Nickajack Cave, and the mighty Nickajack Dam itself, which facilitates a 40 drop from the lake to the river below through a 600 foot lock.

Several boat launches allow paddlers and power boaters quick access to the lake’s features.

Photo by Diane Blankenbaker

A great summer family paddle is to Nickajack Cave, which serves as a nursery cave for tens of thousands of endangered gray bats.

TVA Nickajack Lake Resevoir Information

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Boat Access Map

Google Map

Related Activities

Day hiking, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, camping

Activity Type

Family, leisure, kayaking, canoeing, standup paddleboarding

Distance from Outdoor Chattanooga

27 miles | 35 minutes

GPS Coordinates

35.008979, -85.605825


Dawn to dusk at Shellmound
No restrictions at TWRA launches


Yes, at Shellmound Campground

Contact Information

Outdoor Chattanooga
200 River St. in Coolidge Park
Chattanooga, TN 
(423) 643-6888


Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Region III
464 Industrial Blvd.
Crossville, TN 38555

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Region III

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