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Chickamauga Dam and Tennessee River Park

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

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Site Description and Habitats
Chickamauga Dam overlooks the expanse of Chickamauga Lake.

The Tennessee Riverpark stretches 1.65 miles along the east side of the river below Chickamauga Dam. It features playgrounds, picnic areas and fishing piers, along with a paved Riverwalk for walking or cycling. the trail goes through mixed woods and shrubby areas while following the river.

Chickamauga Dam Recreation Area overlooks the lake from the south shore, but there are shallows closer to the dam/highway that concentrates waterfowl in winter.

The main attraction to the area is gulls, terns, waterfowl, and loons. Bald eagles are frequently seen in the area.

Bird species of interest

Spring and Fall Migration: Peregrine Falcon (and winter), Broad-winged Hawk, May and August are good times to look for Black and Caspian Terns, and in winter Sandhill Cranes may be flying around. Warblers, vireos, and flycatchers such as Black-throated Green, Blackpoll (spring only), Tennessee, Palm, and Prairie Warblers, Swainson's Thrush, and Swamp Sparrows can be common along the Riverwalk and at the Recreation Park.

Summer: Double-crested Cormorant, Osprey, Great Crested Flycatcher, and Eastern Kingbird,

Winter: Waterfowl include Lesser and Greater Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Canvasback and Redhead, among others, Common Loon, Horned and Pied-billed Grebe. On the greenway and at the park look for Yellow-rumped Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Brown Creeper, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Winter Wren.

Year-Round: Bald Eagle, Canada Goose, Fish Crow, American Coot (rare in summer), Great Blue Heron.

Rarities Seen at this Site: Ross's Goose, Black, Surf, and White-winged Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Pacific and Red-throated Loon, Brown Pelican (multiple records!), Laughing and Great Black-backed Gull.

Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer - Chickamauga Dam (on the dam proper)

Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer - Chickamauga Dam Recreation Area (on south side of the dam)

Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer - Tennessee River Park (Chattanooga Riverwalk)

Submit your data to eBird here

Detailed directions for birding Tennessee River Park and Chickamauga Dam
From I-75 N, take Highway 153 N; exit at exit 5 for Amnicola Highway, turn left (west); take first road to the right (marked TVA) to go to the dam. Continuing towards dam, stay straight at the second intersection to go to the dam overlook. Make a slight left here to go below the dam to the entrance and parking for the Riverwalk. Restrooms are available below the dam.

The beaver pond is on the left before reaching the dam, but it difficult to access without parking in a designated parking area and walking. Birding is usually slow and difficult due to excessive road noise, but scan for Wood Ducks. Lake Junior (big lake on your right as soon as you turn off Hwy 58 going to the dam), is accessible via the first (and only) right turn as soon as you turn off Hwy 58, assuming the road isn't gated.

Chickamauga Dam Recreation Area is also access from exit 5 on Hey 153, but go east/north and in a very short distance you come to a "T" where you go left on Kings Point Rd. Follow Kings Point Rd into the park, go past the marina and make the second left to parking for the lakeshore/beach.

Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
Chickamauga Dam Parking Lot: 35.101473,-85.22871
Parking below the dam at the end of the Riverwalk (greenway): 35.102122,-85.230327
Chickamauga Dam Recreation Area: 35.096295,-85.222659

Fees and Hours
No fees are required to access these areas. The areas are accessible during daylight hours year round.

There are no restroom facilities. A porto-john or restrooms are available at the Riverwalk parking area.

Info for other sites
Tennessee's Watchable Wildlife web site