J. Percy Priest Lake was created in the mid-1960s when the Army Corps of Engineers dammed Stones River east of Nashville . The lake is a favorite destination for fishing, boating, swimming, and picnicking.
J. Percy Priest Lake sprawls over 14,200 acres. Access is provided through more than a dozen different parks and access areas on all sides of the lake. Many of these areas bear the names of communities that were inundated when the lake was created.
The lake’s main visitors center, operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, is located at the site of the dam that created the lake. The visitors center is located on Bell Road at exit 219 off I-40 heading east from downtown Nashville . There you will find a lake overlook and one of four marinas on the lake.
In addition to access areas managed by the Corps of Engineers, Nashville operates Hamilton Creek Park on the western shore of the lake. The State of Tennessee operates Long Hunter State Park on the eastern shore.
There are several hiking trails around the lake. The Three Hickories Nature Trail is an easy 1.6-mile trail found in the Cook Recreational Area. Anderson Road Fitness Trail is a paved one-mile trail that travels through woodlands and along the lake.
For a long hike, or for horseback riding, go to the Twin Forks Horse Trail, an 18-mile trail located in the East Fork Recreation Area on the southwestern shore of the lake. Within Long Hunter State Park there are three hiking trails, including a nature loop trail and the mile-long Deer Trail leaving from the visitors center.
Boating, fishing, and watersports are among the most popular activities on J. Percy Priest Lake. Launch ramps are found in Long Hunter State Park and at several marinas around the lake. Elm Hill Marina (3361 Bell Rd., 615/889-5363, www.elmhillmarina.com ) is the marina closest to downtown Nashville .
The Corps of Engineers operates three day-use swim areas that have sand beaches, bathrooms, and other amenities for a day in the water. These swim areas are located at Anderson Road, Cook Campground, and Seven Points Campground. There is a $4 per-vehicle fee at Anderson and Cook. There is swimming at Long Hunter State Park’s Bryant Grove as well.