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TENNESSEE WILDLIFE VIEWING TRAIL » Middle Tennessee
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Percy Priest Lake, Cook Recreation Area

Site Directions: Take I-40 East from Nashville and take Exit 221B - Old Hickory Boulevard. Turn right on Old Hickory Boulevard and travel approximately 1 mile to stop light at Bell Road. Turn left on Bell Road and travel approximately 1 mile to stop light. Turn right on New Hope Road and travel approximately 2 miles to Stewarts Ferry Pike. Turn right on Stewarts Ferry Pike (T in the road) and travel approximately 1 mile to Old Hickory Boulevard. Turn left on Old Hickory Boulevard and travel approximately 1 1/2 mile to recreation area entrance. The boat ramp is at the end of the road.
Lat-Long: 36.13184, -86.59518
Hours: day light hours
Seasonality: year round
Fees: In summer, the beach area has a $4 fee per car. The boat ramp area is free and when the beach area is gated, access is free via foot travel.


Rising moon at sunset.

Site Description: The main paved road ends at a boat ramp and a lake view. The recreation area is open in summer and leads to restrooms and a beach. The woods are mixed hardwoods with extensive cedar thickets. The lake views are excellent from the boat ramp and shorelines. An old campground loop is gated off, but you can park along the side of the road (in winter only) and walk the old loop road through the woods. Sunsets can be great!

Wildlife to Watch: Best bird viewing is done by walking south along the shoreline from the parking lot and boat ramp. The widest view of the lake is made from the south end of the peninsula where you can see Seven Points Rec Area to the east and Anderson Rd across the lake to the west. From the boat ramp parking area, walk south past the “pond” with a fishing dock and walk along the shoreline. This takes you to the south end of the peninsula and to a great 270 degree view of the lake.

The area is best birded in the last hour or two of daylight in winter. A good scope is required to see many of the ducks, loons, and gulls as many are at a good distance from the shoreline. Waterfowl fly in from all directions to roost to the southeast of the peninsula off Seven Points Recreation Area. Gulls typically roost, sometimes in very large numbers, off to the west in the middle of the lake, but they also roost off Seven Points Rec Area and on the lake due south of the peninsula on Cook Rec Area. When the lake is low, an island marked by bouys off the south end of Cook Rec Area is often covered with gulls and occasionally ducks are present, including Common Merganser. The majority of gulls are Ring-billed Gulls, but thousands of Bonaparte’s Gulls are possible. Herring Gulls also occur.

Common Loons roost in groups primarily off the west and south sides of the point with numbers up to 200-300 at times. A good scope is required to see many of these birds, but many are within 200m of the shoreline and are readily visible. This area consistently has the highest number of Common Loons in Tennessee in winter. A Merlin roost along the shoreline in winter 2011-2012, while Surf Scoter and Red-throated Loon have been found in November 2012.

For more information:

Percy Priest WMA

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