Used by Native Americans and Civil War soldiers, then flooded by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Nickajack Cave offers a special wildlife viewing opportunity when thousands of endangered gray bats use it each summer as a nursery cave.
Photos by Diane Blankenbaker
Each evening at dusk, the bats put on a marvelous show as they pour out of the cave to forage.
The best seat for the show is from the water. Two boat launches on either end of the cave's inlet, allow for easy access by paddlecraft to the mouth of the cave.
NOTE: Paddlers should be equipped with a white stern light or headlamp, as they will be paddling back to the launch after dark.
When the Maple View Recreation Area is open, the mouth of the cave may also be accessed via a trail and boardwalk. Due to low water levels, access by water in the winter is almost impossible.
Flat water paddling, hiking, picnicking
Distance from Outdoor Chattanooga
25 miles | 30 minutes
GPS Coordinates (Maple View Recreation Area)
Dates | Hours
Dawn to dusk, spring, summer, fall
Tennessee Valley Authority