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Harrison Bay State Park

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

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Site Description and Habitats

The 1,200-acre Harrison Bay State Park, with approximately 40 miles of Chickamauga Lake shoreline, was originally developed as a Tennessee Valley Authority recreation demonstration area in the 1930's. Its name is derived from a large bay at the main channel of the Tennessee River that covers the old town of Harrison, and the last Cherokee Campground. The parklands are of historic significance because the Cherokee Campground consisted of three villages which were ruled by one of the last great Cherokee Chieftains, Chief Joe Vann. This beautiful wooded park is a haven for campers, boaters and fishermen, as well as picnickers and other day-use visitors from Chattanooga and the surrounding tri-state area.

There is a gravel pull off and drive through road on the west side of Harrison Bay Rd just after turning off Hwy 58. This area should be checked out for gulls, loons, and ducks in winter. Woodland birds can also be found here as the site has some forest cover. The main part of the park has multiple access areas to the shoreline and all areas are worth exploring. Little data has been submitted to eBird. Please submit your sightings to the hotspot.

Bird species of interest

Spring and Fall Migration: Tennessee, Blackpoll (spring only), Black-throated Green Warblers among others may be found. May and August are good times to scan the river for Black Tern, Caspian Tern

Summer: Eastern Kingbird, Pine Warbler (likely year round), Chipping Sparrow, and Indigo Bunting, Orchard Oriole.

Waterfowl including Redhead, Canvasback, Ring-necked Duck, Gadwall, Bufflehead and Common Goldeneye, among others. Ring-billed, Herring, and Bonaparte's Gulls, Common Loon, Horned Grebe, Brown Creeper, Hermit Thrush, and Rusty Blackbird.

Bald Eagle, Red-headed Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Fish Crow, Red-tailed Hawk, Barred Owl, Northern Flicker, and Great Blue Heron.

Rarities Seen at this Site:
Surf and White-winged Scoters, Brant

Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer

Submit your data to eBird here

Detailed directions for birding Harrison Bay State Park

From Chattanooga: Take exit 4 off I-75 onto Hwy 153. Travel north on Hwy 153. At the sixth exit, Hwy 58, turn north. Travel approximately 12 miles to Harrison Bay Rd on the left. Follow signs to the park entrance. The entrance is approximately one mile on the left.

From Knoxville: From I-75, take exit 25, Hwy 60. Travel on Hwy 60 approximately 9 miles to Hwy 58. Turn south on Hwy 58 and travel approximately 15 miles to Harrison Bay Rd. The entrance is approximately one mile on the left.

From Hwy 58, turn onto Harrison Bay Rd and on your almost immediate left is a gravel pull through for lake access. Check the lake here in winter for gulls, loons, waterfowl, horned grebes, etc.

From the main entrance, scout out all the roads along the lakeshore, especially on the west side where you have a better view of the main river channel. All woodlands and trails can be nice hiking with modest birding in migration. In areas of pines, look and listen for Brown-headed Nuthatches.

Check out the Harrison Bay Eagle Cam

Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
Harrison Bay Road: 35.159196, -85.107418
Main park entrance: 35.173966, -85.116513
Bear Trace golf course: 35.19813, -85.103467

Fees and Hours
No fees are required to access these areas.

There are restroom facilities. Camping is available as well as boating.

Harrison Bay State Park
8411 Harrison Bay Road
Harrison, TN 37341
Golf Course:
8919 Harrison Bay Road, Harrison TN 37341

Info for other sites
Tennessee's Watchable Wildlife web site