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Booker T. Washington State Park

Birding Seasons:
Spring A
Summer B
Fall A
Winter A+

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Site Description and Habitats

The park lies on the west bank of the lake, river mile 473.5. This 353-acre park is named in honor of Booker Taliagerro Washington who was born into slavery at Hale's Ford, Virginia, but with great determination secured an education and became president of Tuskegee Institute, a black organization for higher education. The park contains large fragments of hardwood forest, some sizeable Virginia Pine stands, and riparian forest. Be sure to look for birds from the fishing pier and the boat ramp, which are the best areas for viewing the lake at the park.

The park is primarily birded in winter for gull, loons, grebe, and waterfowl, however the woodlands should be quite good in spring and fall. Please report your sightings to eBird!

Bird species of interest

Spring and Fall Migration: Blackpoll (spring only), Black-throated Green Warblers among others may be found. May and August are good times to scan the river for Caspian and Black Tern. Bank and Tree Swallow, Philadelphia Vireo, Swainson's Thrush, among other passerines can be found.

Summer: Fish Crow, Eastern Kingbird, Pine Warbler (likely year round), Chimney Swift, Purple Martin, Barn Swallow, Chipping Sparrow, Orchard Oriole, and Indigo Bunting.

Waterfowl including Redhead, Canvasback, Ring-necked Duck, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Greater and Lesser Scaup, Red-breasted Merganser, Bufflehead and Common Goldeneye, among others. Ring-billed, Herring, and Bonaparte's Gulls, Common Loon, Horned Grebe (sometimes flocks >100 birds on the river), Brown Creeper, Hermit Thrush, Purple Finch, and Dark-eyed Juncos.

Brown-headed Nuthatch, Canada Geese, Bald Eagle, Mallard, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Flicker, and Great Blue Heron.

Rarities Seen at this Site:
Surf, Black, and White-winged Scoters, Little Gull, Eared Grebe, Western Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Red-throated and Pacific Loon,

Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer

Submit your data to eBird here

Detailed directions for birding Booker T. Washington State Park
From I-75 N, take Highway 153 N. Take Highway 58 (Decatur) exit and turn right; proceed north approximately two miles; turn left at the state park sign and follow signs to park.

Upon entering the park, follow the main road and signage to the boat ramp and the fishing pier. Scan the water for gulls, terns, loons, waterfowl, grebes, etc. It's a little tougher to bird late in the day on the river due to the sun setting across the river, but the views are great and you can see all the way to Chickamauga Dam from the boat ramp.

Be sure to check out any wooded areas during spring and fall!

Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
Entrance and Visitor's Center: 35.110405,-85.171231
Boat ramp: 35.110571,-85.179793

Additional nearby birding location
Vincent Rd Boat Ramp: 35.140634, -85.162757
From the entrance to Booker T. Washington SP, make a left (going N) and travel exactly 2 miles and make a left onto Vincent Rd. Travel 1.5 miles to a boat ramp on your left. Scan the river here for gulls, terns, loons, grebes, and waterfowl. This area produced numerous rarities in winter 2013-14 including multiple Red-throated Loons, Pacific Loon, all 3 scoters, Long-tailed Duck, plus good numbers of Common Goldeneye.

Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer for Vincent Rd Boat Ramp

Harrison Bay State Park is only a few minutes away.

Fees and Hours
No fees are required to access these areas. Open 7 am to dark.

There are restroom facilities.

Booker T. Washington State Park
5801 Champion Road
Chattanooga, TN 37416

Info for other sites
Tennessee's Watchable Wildlife web site