My wife, Jamie, and I have been working on seeing as much of the Tennessee River as possible. In May, we decided to run up to Nickajack Lake. It’s a reservoir created by Nickajack Dam as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The lake stretches from Nickajack Dam to Chickamauga Dam, passing through Chattanooga. Nickajack Dam on the Tennessee River was completed in 1967 and replaced the aged Hales Bar Dam that had been built by private interests in 1913. The Tennessee River Gorge, commonly referred to as the “Grand Canyon of Tennessee”, is also part of Nickajack Lake. Seeing the Gorge is the primary reason for our trip as it consists of beautiful mountains, upland hardwoods and impressive limestone cliffs. Most of the shoreline is undeveloped which adds to the incredible scenery. I consider myself an above average nature photographer; however, capturing the true beauty of this area was a challenge.
We rented a very nice pontoon boat at Hale’s Bar and Marina, which is just up from the dam. Cruising at a leisurely pace, we headed up river towards Chattanooga.
Once in Chattanooga, we stopped at Scottie’s on the River for lunch. From the marina to Scottie’s it was about a 33-mile trip. The food and views were outstanding.
On our way back, we stopped by Williams Island which offers 8 free primitive campsites.
Even though we were playing, there are still plenty of folks working on the river.
All in all, this was an incredible one-day trip. We had no trouble seeing the entire lake in one day and we’ll definitely return in the fall when the leaves are in full color.