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TENNESSEE WILDLIFE VIEWING TRAIL » East Tennessee
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Austin Springs

Site Directions: From Johnson City, take Hwy 11-E north toward Bristol. After crossing Devault Bridge over Boone Lake, continue for 1.5 miles to Hyder Hill Road and make a right (also signs for Rocky Mount Historic Site). Go over the hill past the historic site to the intersection with Austin Springs Road. Turn right and go about 0.75 mile to the bridge, where there are two pull-offs for parking. Step up onto the grassy edge on the left to scan the lake (do not stand on the bridge). Retrace route to Hyder Hill Rd. and turn right. Go down the hill and around a sharp curve to the lakeshore. There are a couple of pull-offs here from which you can scan the lake and shoreline. When the water level is low you should be able to step down to the shoreline for a better view. Continue on this road to a few other pull-offs along the river. Once you reach the bridge over the river retrace your steps to Hwy 11-E.
Bridge access on Austin Springs Rd - Lat-Long: 36.397555, -82.346113°W
Access to lakeshore on Hyder Hill Rd - Lat-Long: 36.400664, -82.338023°W
Hours: daylight hours
Seasonality: primarily spring and fall migration seasons
Fees: none

Site Description: Austin Springs is located on the Watauga River at the upper end of the Boone Lake impoundment. The water level in the lake is lowered in the fall exposing mudflats, sandbars, and rocky outcrops. This provides foraging and resting sites for shorebirds, etc. The lake is refilled in spring. All adjacent land is private, so birding must be restricted to roadside vantage points. A spotting scope is usually needed to see most of the waterbirds.

Wildlife to Watch: A wide variety of waterbirds may be seen at this site, depending on season and conditions: waterfowl, Pied-billed Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, herons & egrets, Osprey, Bald Eagle, coot, sandpipers and plovers, gulls and terns. American Pipits may be seen on the mud. Cliff Swallows nest under the bridge and other swallows are often seen flying around. Prothonotary Warbler (rare in northeast Tenn.) has nested near the bridge and along the river section. Wild Turkeys are often seen in fields (early or late in day best). Other woodland and edge birds may be seen Otters occur frequently, mainly in the river section.

For more information:

Submit your data to eBird and help us build a list of birds seen at this site


Information for this site page was generously contributed by Rick Knight.


Be sure to check out our Safety Tips page for important information regarding viewing wildlife in these areas.