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.

kayakers nickajack sm
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.

kayakers bats nickajack
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 Reservoir Information
Tennesssee Wildlife Resources Agency Boat Access Map
Google Map of Nickajack Lake

Activity Type
Family, leisure, kayaking, canoeing, standup paddleboarding

Related Activities
Day hiking, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, camping

Distance from Outdoor Chattanooga to Shellmound Boat Launch
27 miles | 35 minutes

GPS Coordinates of Shellmound Boat Launch
35.008979, -85.605825

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


Nickajack Lake Tennessee River