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J. Percy Priest Lake, located 10-15 minutes from downtown Nashville TN, provides many outdoor recreational opportunities for 7+ million visitors each year. Because of the temperate climate and relatively long recreation season, visitors have many activities from which to choose. The most popular activities (in order) are sightseeing, swimming, picnicking, boating, fishing, water skiing, hunting, and camping.
J. Percy Priest Dam is visible from Interstate 40 and is located on the Stones River. It impounds a lake 42 miles long. J. Percy Priest Lake covers portions of Davidson, Rutherford, and Wilson Counties and consists of 14,200 surface acres of water at summer pool elevation (490 feet above mean sea level). The water is surrounded by 18,854 acres of public lands; 10,000 acres are devoted to wildlife management.
J. Percy Priest Lake: Public and Commercial Facilities
* 34 recreation areas
* 381 picnic sites
* 363 camping sites
* 10 playgrounds
* 6 swimming areas
* 68 trail miles
* 2 fishing docks
* 33 boat ramps
* 5 marinas
* 1,776 marina slips
J. Percy Priest Lake: Boating
J. Percy Priest Lake provides boaters with a wide variety of opportunities to enjoy their respective recreational interests. Sailboats, fishing and hunting boats, pleasure boats, personal watercraft, and water skiers all share the waters. Boat operators born after January 1, 1989 must complete a boater education course.
J. Percy Priest Lake: Designated Swim Areas
Swimming on J. Percy Priest Lake is one of the more popular water-based activities. Swimming is prohibited at launching ramps, mooring points, marinas, public docks, and posted areas. It is allowed elsewhere, but for safety you should swim only in specifically designated areas -- which are off-limits to boaters of all kinds.
The Corps of Engineers operates three swim areas on J. Percy Priest Lake: Anderson Road, Cook, and Seven Points Campground. Anderson Road and Cook both have sand beaches and playgrounds. Pets are prohibited at Anderson Road and Cook Recreation Areas. Seven Points Campground includes a sandy beach for registered campers. Anderson Road and Cook Recreation Areas offer picnic sites, group shelters, boat launching ramps, and bathrooms. Other designated swimming areas at J. Percy Priest include Nashville Shores, Long Hunter State Park and Bryant Grove.
J. Percy Priest Lake: Walking/Hiking Trails (Corps of Engineers)
Hiking or walking along one of the trails around J. Percy Priest Lake is an enjoyable way to enjoy the outdoors in a natural setting.
These trails are maintained by the Corps of Engineers:
* Three Hickories Nature Trail: This 1.6 mile long nature trail is located in a wooded area in Cook Recreation Area.
* Anderson Road Fitness Trail: The trail is paved, more than a mile long and winds through a cedar glade area beside the lake.
* Poole Knobs Archery Trail: The trail is 0.3 miles long and is designed with targets in the woods for archery practice. There is a small shelter and some archery targets at the entrance of the trail.
* Twin Forks Horse Trail: Equestrians and hikers are welcome to use this 18 mile long trail that runs along the shoreline from Walter Hill Dam to Nices Mill Recreation Area. The best access to the trail is at East Fork Recreation Area.
J. Percy Priest Lake: Other Trails
* Long Hunter State Park: Adjacent to J. Percy Priest Lake is Couchville Lake. The Lake Trail around Couchville Lake is hard surfaced, barrier free, and is a self-guided nature trail. The Nature Loop Trail and Inland Trail located at the Couchville Area, and the Point Trail at Bryant Grove, are popular short walks. The 4 mile long Bryant Grove Trail connects Bryant Grove to Couchville. The Deer Trail is 1 mile long and located behind the Visitor Center. At the Bakers Grove Primitive Area, there is a 4 mile Day Loop Trail and the 6 mile one-way Volunteer Trail.
* Hamilton Creek Recreation Area: Mountain bikers have 8.5 miles of trail to ride in this area managed by Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation. The 6-mile Pinnacle Trail is rated hard-intermediate to expert rider, and the 2.5 mile lakeside Trail is rated hard-beginner to intermediate rider.
* Stones River Greenway: Trail is operated by Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation. Trailhead begins below J. Percy Priest Dam and travels downstream approximately 3 miles, but will eventually link up with other trails to downtown Nashville. Easy to moderate paved trail provides excellent walking, biking, and other forms of recreation, and provides access to Stones River.
J. Percy Priest Lake: Fishing
A valid Tennessee state fishing license is required to fish on J. Percy Priest Lake. Fishing opportunities abound, with a wide variety of species available from the Stones River tailwaters to the East and West Forks of the Stones River. The most popular species include largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, striped bass, Cherokee bass, and white bass. Other species such as catfish, bluegill, bream, and trout provide excellent opportunities for young anglers.
J. Percy Priest Lake: Points of Interest on the Lake
* Nashville Shores Water Park: Pools, water slides, water activities, beach, putt-putt, etc.
* Long Hunter State Park: Includes countless miles of trails, plus interpretive and environmental activities. The 110-acre Couchville Lake at Long Hunter State Park was created when water backed up through caves into several sinkholes when J. Percy Priest Lake was formed. Great Blue Herons fish here and Hooded Mergansers winter here. Amenities include a covered fishing pier plus seasonal rowboat and canoe rentals. Electric and non-motorized boats are permitted. Fishing is popular -- for bass, catfish, crappie, and rockfish.
* Hamilton Creek Park: Operated by Metropolitan Nashville Board of Parks and Recreation, this city park sports a sailboat marina, mountain bicycle trail, a BMX race track, and a boat launching ramp.
* Joe C. Davis Outdoor Center: Operated by the Middle Tennessee YMCA, this camp has year-round activities and sponsors a summer day camp for local children.
J. Percy Priest Lake: Points of Interest Nearby
* The Hermitage: The historic home of President Andrew Jackson.
* Two Rivers Mansion: The 28-room mansion of the McGavock family stands within the 12 acre Two Rivers Park. The estate takes its name from the fact that it lies on a triangular wedge of land at the junction of the Stones River and the Cumberland River.
* The Grand Ole Opry.
* Sam Davis Home: This state historic site in Smyrna is dedicated to a Confederate hero. Davis was executed for refusing to reveal information to Union forces in exchange for his life. The Sam Davis Home, circa 1820, features original furniture and homespun decor enjoyed by the Davis family in the 19th century. The 168-acre farm is what remains of the original 1000-acre plantation, and is still used to grow a bountiful cotton crop. The homes is open year round.
* Stones River National Battlefield: Site of an intense and bloody Civil War battle in Murfreesboro.
* Cedars of Lebanon State Park: Named for the Biblically important forest of Lebanon, this state park has horse trails and horse rentals, a swimming pool, and a Frisbee golf course. There is a modern campground, plenty of picnic sites, and miles of trails.
* Nashville Superspeedway: Built in 2000, the 3,100-acre NASCAR racing complex seats 50,000 spectators.
J. Percy Priest Lake: History
In the 1700's, a wandering hunter by the name of Uriah Stone turned up a small river which was later named in his honor. He found a country of open grasslands, cedar barrens, and woodlands which so abounded in game it staggered his imagination. The Stone's River Basin had long been the favored hunting grounds of the Creek, Chickasaws, Shawnees, and Cherokees. Andrew Jackson followed some years later and built a magnificent columned mansion on a plantation near the Stones River which he called "The Hermitage".
Two hundred years later the Congress of the United States, by the authority of the Flood Control Act of 1946, commissioned the construction of a project under the name, "Stewarts Ferry Reservoir". In 1958 Congress changed the name to J. Percy Priest in honor of the late Congressman from Tennessee. Construction began June 2, 1963 and the dam was completed in 1968.
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