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TENNESSEE WILDLIFE VIEWING TRAIL » Middle Tennessee
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Percy Priest Lake, Dam Overlook and Stones River Greenway

Site Directions: From Nashville, take I-40 East to Exit 219 - Stewarts Ferry Pike, Percy Priest Dam. At the end of the off ramp, make a right onto Stewarts Ferry Pike and travel approximately 1/2 mile to Bell Road (light). Turn left on Bell Road and access to the west parking lot is approximately 1/2 mile ahead on the right with greenway access to the left. The dam overlook is on the right on the far side of the dam.

From the east of the lake, take Exit 221 and head south on Old Hickory Blvd. At the first major intersection at a light (you can't really go straight here), make a right onto Bell Rd. Travel on Bell Rd for about 1.25 miles to the dam overlook on your left. Greenway and west side parking lot is on the far side of the dam.

Lat-Long: 36.158554, -86.615344, overlook from the dam
Lat-Long: 36.153807, -86.621255, parking lot on west side of lake
Lat-Long: 36.158658, -86.620955, Stones River Greenway trail head
Hours: day light hours
Seasonality: year round
Fees: None

Site Description: The dam area provides expansive views of the lake. The dam overlook is an elevated parking lot that looks down on the lake with stairs to lake side access, while the west parking lot is at lake level. Both sites provide a different viewing experience and lighting conditions depending on time of day. The Stones River Greenway access area provides views below the dam and the Cumberland River, while the greenway proper is a 10 foot wide paved trail that travels over 10 miles and connects other parks in the Nashville area. The greenway winds along the Stones River and through mixed riparian woodlands with scattered fields and early successional habitats.

Wildlife to Watch: The lake is best in fall through spring when Common Loons, Horned and Pied-billed Grebe, and various waterfowl are present. The lake is deep and waterfowl do not tend to linger long, but good birds show up and it is always worth stopping and scanning. American Coots, wild and domestic Mallards are common at the west parking lot area where they are fed. A Ross's Goose associated with these birds in winter 2011-12. Gulls and terns are present from fall through spring. Ring-billed and Bonaparte's Gulls are most common, but Herring Gulls appear at times. In spring and fall, Caspian, Black, Common and Forster's Terns may be seen. Long-tailed Duck, Surf and Black Scoter, among other rare birds for the Nashville area have been found in recent years. Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons are also periodically seen.

The Stones River Greenway provides a good mix of woodland and shrubland birds. Field Sparrows, Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, and Yellow-breasted Chat breed in the fields, while Red-eyed Vireo, Prothonotary Warbler, and other warblers and vireos nest in the woods. The big grassy field by the greenway trail head has had Dickcissel in May and June in recent years and is likely the only place in the county where this species is breeding. Bobolinks can be found in early May as transients.

Black-crowned Night-Herons are often seen stalking prey below the dam.

For more information:

Army Corps of Engineers lake information

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


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