J. Percy Priest Lake, Tennessee, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Tennessee - Middle -

Also known as:  J. Percy Priest Reservoir

One of the most popular recreation sites in the Middle Tennessee region of J Percy Priest lake. Less than 15 minutes from downtown Nashville, the reservoir receives over seven million visitors a year who come to enjoy sightseeing, swimming, picnicking, boating, fishing, water skiing, hunting, and camping. The region’s mild climate provides for an extended season in which to enjoy the 14,200-acre lake that stretches over 42 miles across parts of Rutherford, Wilson and Davidson counties. Along the shoreline are 18,854 acres of public lands including Long Hunter State Park, state and federal natural and wildlife areas and USACE Public Use areas. Over 10,000 acres are designated wildlife management areas.

With 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 and 1,776 marina slips included in both public and commercial facilities, J Percy Priest Lake has both the space and the the access needed to make this a valuable addition to recreational opportunities in the Nashville area.

Swimming is one of the most popular activities at J Percy Priest Lake. The USACE maintains three swim areas around the lake. Cook and Anderson Road Recreation Areas both offer playgrounds, sandy beach areas, group shelters, boat launch ramps, restrooms, and picnic sites. Pets are not allowed in these areas. Seven Points Campground provides a sand swimming beach for registered campers only. Other designated swimming areas at J. Percy Priest include Nashville Shores, Long Hunter State Park and Bryant Grove. For safety reason, swimming areas and those devoted to boating are kept strictly separated so that both types of outdoor enthusiasts can engage in their activities safely.

Boating is a major source of water-based fun at J Percy Priest Lake. Sailboats, fishing and hunting boats, pleasure boats, personal watercraft, and water skiers all share the waters. Boat operators born after January 1, 1989 must have completed a boater education course. Five marinas on the lake allow for plenty of boat slips, either as daily use or seasonally. Restaurants, fuel, boat launch ramps, trailer and boat storage, docks, boating supplies, fishing license and bait, tackle and boat registration are all available lakefront at these marinas. Boat rentals, including ski boats, fishing boats, jet skis and pontoons suitable for a group are available for rent, along with required safety equipment and the optional rental of water skis, tubes, wake boards and other water ‘toys’. Sailboats, houseboats, power boats, canoes, kayaks and paddleboards can all be seen sharing the waters of J Percy Priest Lake.

Fishing takes place most of the year at J Percy Priest Lake: Fishermen know this as ‘bass country’: large mouth bass, striped bass, white bass, small mouth bass and Cherokee bass are all caught, along with catfish, sunfish, bluegill and the occasional trout. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency maintains fishery stocks and oversees the 20 fish attractor locations that have been added to the lake. A Tennessee fishing license is required. Professional fishing guides can be hired to guide the unfamiliar angler to the best fishing spots. Tournament fishing occurs here on a regular basis. Although most think a boat is necessary, shoreline fishing has been provided for at J. Percy Priest Overlook, Vivrette Creek, Cook Recreation Area and Stewart Creek. Some of these shore fishing locations are in close proximity to campgrounds, guaranteeing to round out an enjoyable experience of ‘roughing it’ with the kids.

Camping locations at J Percy Priest Lake vary from full-service RV sites with all amenities to isolated primitive camping on designated islands in the reservoir. Reservations are a good idea on summer weekends, particularly holidays as the campsites soon fill up. Some price discounts are available to Access and America the Beautiful Senior Pass holders. A series of walking trails is maintained around the lake by the Corps for the enjoyment of nature-loving visitors: The Three Hickories Nature Trail winds 1.6 miles through the woods in Cook Recreation Area. The paved Anderson Road Fitness Trail meanders for over a mile through a cedar glade and along the lake. Poole Knob Archery Trail scatters archery targets along a third of a mile trail. Other targets are provided as is a small shelter. And for equestrians, the Twin Forks Horse Trail accommodates both horseback riders and hikers along a 18-mile trail along the shore between Nices Mill Recreation Area and Walter Hill Dam. Riders usually access the trail at East Fork Recreation Area. All of the above are maintained by the USACE.

Long Hunter State Park offers a number of trails near Couchville Lake, a small lake near J Percy Priest Lake. Lake Trail is a barrier-free hard surface trail with self-guiding nature signage. Inland Trail, Nature Loop Trail and Point Trail are all popular short walks. Four-mile Bryant Grove Trail links Couchville to Bryant Grove. Other trails in the state park include Deer Trail, Day Loop Trail and Volunteer trail. Mountain bikers have miles of designated trails to ride at Hamilton Creek Recreation Area. Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation manages the area which also includes Pinnacle Trail. Also operated by Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation, the Stones River Greenway begins near J Percy Priest Dam and follows the river downstream for about three miles before linking with other trails leading to downtown Nashville. This paved trail provides access to the Stones River and is of only moderate difficulty.

Besides the trails and environmental activities afforded by Long Hunter State Park, 110-acre Couchville Lake harbors a variety of water and wading birds including great blue herons. Hooded mergansers over-winter here. Rowboats and canoes are rented during the summer season and a covered fishing pier offers fine fishing even in inclement weather. Electric motors are permitted. The lake holds bass, crappie, catfish and rockfish. The lake is somewhat unusual in that it was formed as a result of the filling of J Percy Priest Lake: water backed up through caves and into sinkholes creating the new lake. Hamilton Creek Park, operated by Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation holds a sailboat marina, a BMX track, the mountain bike trails and a boat launch. The Nashville Shores Water Park has water activities, pools, water slides, beach, putt-putt, and other amusements. Built in 2000, the Nashville Superspeedway NASCAR racing complex adds to the excitement.

Several well-known and historical points of interest are located in or near Nashville: The Grand Ole Opry is one of Nashville’s most famous entertainment venues. President Andrew Jackson’s beloved Hermitage is nearby, available for tours. Twenty-eight-room Two Rivers Mansion sits in its own 12-acre park at the junction of the Stones and Cumberland Rivers. The Sam Davis Home is a State Historic Site in nearby Smyrna. Built in 1820, the preserved home commemorates the Confederate hero who was executed for refusing to divulge information to Union troops. The original furnishings are still on display. The Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro was the site of a particularly bloody Civil War battle.

The history of the J Percy Priest Reservoir is the discovery of the site of the future City of Nashville. When a hunter named Uriah Stone discovered the small river sometime in the 1700s, he found the river basin to contain a wealth of cedar barrens, open grasslands and woodlands teeming with game. Little did he realize that the area had long been a favored hunting area of the Shawnee, Creek, Chickasaw and Cherokee. The river was eventually named for Uriah Stone. Andrew Jackson later built his famous Hermitage on a plantation overlooking the river. Two hundred years later, the Flood Control Act of 1946 provided for Stewarts Ferry Reservoir and the river was dammed for flood control and hydroelectric power. Congress later changed the name to honor the late Tennessee congressman, J Percy Priest. The dam was finished in 1968 and the rest is modern history.

Real estate is available near J. Percy Priest Lake, although not on the shoreline. Several nice developments offer lake views. A few private homes may be found for short-term rental and there are a number of guest cottages and bed & breakfasts available in the area. All type of commercial lodgings are located along the major highways near the lake and in the City of Nashville itself. Somewhere, there is the perfect space for you to enjoy your first visit. See you at the lake!

Things to do at J. Percy Priest Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Playground
  • NASCAR

Fish species found at J. Percy Priest Lake

  • Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • White Bass

J. Percy Priest Lake Photo Gallery

J. Percy Priest Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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