J. Percy Priest Lake

Nashville District
Published Jan. 10, 2024
Choppy water with a dam in the far background

J. Percy Priest Dam as seen from a nearby boat ramp on the lake in Nashville, Tennessee, Dec. 15, 2021. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District operates and maintains the project. (USACE Photo by Leon Roberts)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District welcomes you to J. Percy Priest Lake.  The lake provides a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities for millions of visitors each year.  Because of the temperate climate and relatively long recreation season, visitors have numerous activities to participate in including fishing, hunting, camping, picnicking, boating, canoeing, hiking, horseback riding, and more. Because of the lake's proximity to Nashville (15 minutes from downtown) lakeside recreation can fit nicely into your other vacation plans.

J. Percy Priest Dam is visible from Interstate 40 and is located between miles six and seven of the Stones River.  It is conveniently located about ten miles east of downtown Nashville and 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 18,852 acres of public lands; 10,768 acres are devoted to wildlife management.

Initially authorized in 1938, the project was called the Stewart's Ferry Project. However, Congress appropriated no funding for construction. Congress officially changed the project name from Stewart's Ferry to J. Percy Priest on July 2, 1958. In the June 30, 1968, businessman, E.W. Carmack, and the members of the Cumberland River Development Association petitioned the project be renamed in honor of Rep. James Percy Priest, who was a high school teacher, coach and reporter/editor for the Nashville Tennessean before he was elected to Congress. He represented Nashville and Davidson County from 1940 until his death in 1956. 

Nashville District Commander, Col. Gilbert Dorland (1952-1956) stated "the name change for a recently departed and greatly beloved member of the House was a piece of inspiration that brought approval of the request for funds." After several years of studies, the project received funding in 1963. Groundbreaking occurred on June 29, with excavation beginning the following month. President Lyndon B. Johnson dedicated the project on June 29, 1968.


Camping & Group Picnic Shelters

Registration Center hours are:

Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Anderson Road Campground will open for the 2024 recreation season May 12 through September 30. The campground and Day Use Area is located on J. Percy Priest Lake in Nashville, Tennessee.  The campground offers 10 water and electric hook-up sites. Click here for map. 

Poole Knobs Campground will open for the 2024 recreation season May 1 through September 30. The campground is located on the shoreline of J. Percy Priest Lake in LaVergne, Tennessee.  The campground offers water and electric hook-up sites, as well as primitive sites. Click here for map. 

Seven Points Campground will open for the 2024 recreation season April 1 through October 31. The campground and Day Use Area is located on the shoreline of J. Percy Priest Lake in Hermitage, Tennessee.  The campground offers 58 water and electric hook-up sites, along with a boat launching ramp, swimbeach, and playground. Click here for map.

Primitive Camping there are 26 primitive sites available for reservations. Click here for map. 

The Corps of Engineers manages several day use areas on J. Percy Priest Lake.  Some shelters may be reserved (for a fee) up to 365 days in advance.  Reservations may be made through the National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS).  When a shelter is not reserved, it is available on a first-come, first-served basis.  Shelters are available for reservation from April until October. To reserve a shelter, contact the National Recreation Reservation Service at 1-877-444-6777.


J. Percy Priest Lake provides boaters with a wide variety of opportunities to enjoy their respective recreational interests. Our 14,200 surface acres of water offer an opportunity for all types of recreation. One of five commercial marinas situated at various locations on the lake, or one of the many Corps of Engineers Access areas, provide easy access and supplies for boaters. As the number of boaters visiting J. Percy Priest have increased in recent years, the Corps of Engineers encourages visitors to wear life jackets, pay close attention at all times, abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages, and become familiar with the rules of the water and basic boating regulations. You may contact the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency concerning boating regulations and boating safety information.

Fishing & Hunting

Fishing is one of the most popular recreational activities on J. Percy Priest Lake. Enhanced bank fishing areas are developed at Stewart Creek, Vivrett Creek, J. Percy Priest Overlook, and Cook Recreation Areas to provide bank fishing opportunities for anglers who do not have a boat. Accessible fishing opportunities are also provided at these locations for our physically challenged visitors who wish to enjoy this sport.

Tennessee state fishing licenses are required for most individuals prior to fishing on Corps of Engineers waters.  Licenses may be purchased at County Clerk's offices, marinas and many other commercial establishments in the area. For up-to-date fishing information, lake elevations, and generation schedules visit the J. Percy Priest Facebook page. For the most up to date information on generation releases and lake levels, please visit: TVA's Lake Information or call 1-800-238-2264, press 4, then 37, then press the # key.

*Please note:  Water release schedules often change without notice due to unanticipated changes in weather conditions and power system requirements. Use caution near dams. A large amount of water may be discharged without warning at any time. Your safety depends on obeying all posted safety regulations and warnings. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers administers 19,462 acres of land as part of the J. Percy Priest Lake Project. Much of this land is managed for wildlife and is open to public hunting. The public may hunt on most Corps of Engineers’ managed public lands that are not developed recreation areas, are not leased to other entities, and are not designated as “No Hunting.” All State hunting rules and regulations apply. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) administers the wildlife management program and has cooperative agreements with area farmers who perform management practices to benefit wildlife. The fields are interspersed among undeveloped woodlands and make for excellent hunting.

Scuba & Swimming 

Scuba diving is allowed at J. Percy Priest Lake. Divers must display a "Diver Down" flag in the area where they are diving. Boaters should be alert to the "Diver Down" flag and keep a safe distance away. 

The Corps of Engineers operates three swim areas on J. Percy Priest: Anderson Road, Cook, and Seven Points Campground. Swimming is prohibited at launching ramps, mooring points, marinas, public docks, and posted areas. It is allowed elsewhere, but for safety's sake please swim only in specifically designated areas. These areas are much safer as they are off-limits to boaters of all kinds. They are surrounded by “restricted area” buoys and a floating yellow pipeline.

Pets are prohibited at Anderson Road and Cook Recreation Areas. Anderson Road and Cook both have sand beaches and playgrounds and there is a nominal Day Use Fee of $5 per vehicle.  Commercial vehicles are charged $20. Near each day use beach are playgrounds, picnic sites, group shelters, boat launching ramps, and bathrooms.


Three Hickories Nature Trail is a 1.6 mile long nature trail located in a wooded area in Cook Recreation Area. Note a $5 fee for Cook recreation area is charged during the recreation season. Click Here for an interpretive guide to the Three Hickories Nature Trail.

Anderson Road Fitness Trail is a paved, more than a mile long trail winding through a cedar glade area beside the lake. 

Twin Forks Horse Trail welcomes Equestrians and hikers to use this 18 mile long trail running along the shoreline from Walter Hill Dam to Nices Mill Recreation Area.  The best access to the trail is at East Fork Recreation Area.

Three other trails are maintained by outside agencies are found near J. Percy Priest: Long Hunter State ParkHamilton Creek Recreation Area, and Stones River Greenway

J. Percy Priest Lake Visitor Center

Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

3737 Bell Rd Nashville, TN 37214