From phenomenal views to a quiet lake and great trails, Booker T. Washington State Park is the perfect getaway. The 353-acre park presents its visitors with nature in all its wonders.
Booker T. Washington State Park is located on the shores of the spectacular Chickamauga Lake, near the city of Chattanooga. The dense forest bordering the large lake creates a breathtaking picturesque landscape you must visit. If you were looking for an escape from the concrete jungle, this state park is a perfect destination.
Booker T. Washington State Park is deeply associated with America’s significant history of slavery and emancipation. The state park was named in honor of Booker Taliaferro Washington, an infamous African American leader. Washington was born into slavery and freed at age nine after the civil war. He was passionate about education which he, unfortunately, could not get since he was enslaved.
After the civil war, he became free and fought to earn a higher education. He earned a scholarship to Hampton Normal Agricultural Institute for Freedman in Hampton, Va. Washington is famous for being the former president of the Tuskegee Institute, a black organization for higher education. He strongly believed that agriculture and vocational education were key to the advancement of a newly freed race to a better life.
The first attraction to this Tennessee state park is the spectacular scenery that looks straight out of a picture frame. The beautiful lake alongside the dense green forest makes the challenging hiking trails worth it once you stop at the lookout.
The park is great for family picnics. There are three large picnic pavilions in the park which accommodate 60 people and more than 30 individual picnic sites throughout the park. All the picnic sites have been well equipped with grills and water spigots nearby. The pavilions are available for reservation up to one year in advance.
The park is perfect for a short picnic or even an overnight stay. There are many activities ranging from Hiking, biking, birding, fishing, boating, and educational activities. Visitors of the park praise the facilities of the park so you can be sure you will enjoy your stay.
Since the park has many picnic facilities, group lodgings, and campsites, you can plan a day or overnight trip with your friends or family. It is also the perfect destination for a solo trip since there are many facilities for individuals. Booker T. Washington State Park is great if you are looking to experience nature even for just a short while.
This is one of the main activities in this park. Booker T. Washington State Park has several loop trails which are either inner or outer. The trails are all well-maintained. All the trails in the park are classified as moderate and listed below:
Inner Loop 1 Trail– 2.25 miles and winds through the forest
Inner Loop 2 Trail – 1.20 miles and winds around the coves and forest
Nature Trail – about 1.10 miles and traverses through the forest before running alongside the lake.
Outer Loop Trail – 3.90 miles and has spectacular views of the dam and lake.
The park has a biking trail made of a single track on a 6-mile loop. The trail is challenging with some uphill climbs and incredibly fast downhills. It has some banked turns. Anyone looking for moderate and easy trails can also bike at Booker T. Washington. Its phenomenal scenery is out of this world. Don’t miss it.
Booker T. Washington is no stranger to birds of various species for your birding enjoyment. There are Osprey, Bald Eagles, and other several species of waterfowl to be found in the park. Great blue herons are mostly found at the fishing pier and you can spot one on the peak of the roof.
The mountain bike trails have a hilly area that’s excellent for spotting migratory birds in the spring and fall.
There are one hundred and twenty-nine species to be observed.
Here are the two best spots for birding:
Booker T. Washington – Boat Ramp and Fishing Pier: 35.11218, -85.17730. Perfect for birding in the winter, spring and fall. It’s o.25 miles of paved surface and it’s classified as an easy trail. The best lake views are at the fishing pier and the boat ramp.
Featured Birds: great blue heron, common loon, Canada goose, gulls, terns, scaups, horned grebe, terns, common loon, ducks, and even bald eagle.
Booker T. Washington – Hiking Trail: 35.11220, -85.17527. It’s about 5 miles and is mainly a natural surface. Good during winter, spring and fall. It’s classified as a difficult trail. Set up at the bushy lake shore to get the perfect view of the fall migrant songbird, breeding easter kingbirds, and orchard oriole. You will find the breeding brown-headed nuthatches and pine warblers at the Virginia pines.
Featured Birds: Orchard oriole, pine warbler, Eastern kingbird, brown-headed nuthatch, pine siskin, and purple finch.
The Chickamauga lake is scenic and large making it perfect for boating. Make sure to bring your own boat since the park does not rent any. The 35,000-acre lake has one of the most beautiful settings for any boating enthusiast. The park has a day-use boat launch ramp and a large fishing pier that are both well-located. There are fishing licenses available offsite together with bait, tackle, and snacks.
Chickamauga lake is perfect for fishing. The lake spans over 35,000 acres and has a variety of fish. The lake also reflects the sky beautifully setting a great backdrop as you wait for the fish to bite. The main species of fish found here are crappie fish (best in spring), catfish, and bass all year round.
You can fish by boat or from the bank and the fishing pier. The fishing boats are launched from the park boat launch ramp. Remember to bring your own boat.
The park has a large swimming pool that is a great place to relax when you visit. Unfortunately, the swimming pool was closed in the Summer of 2022.
Booker T. Washington is part of the Tennessee park education program. If you are an educator looking for activities for your students, the park has a fun program perfect for learning. The students can learn with a park ranger.
There are varied programs available but you can also curate yours with a park ranger’s own to suit your needs. The program will have to meet the Tennessee academic standards.
Types of Educational Programming:
- Field trips to the park
- Ranger classroom or school yard visits
- Custom programs
Booker T. Washington State Park offers programs that cover topics such as:
- Brick Making
- Regional, State, and National History
- Animal Adaptations & Keystone Species
- Park Career Options
Booker T. Washington State Park
5801 Champion Road
Chattanooga, TN 37416
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Booker T. Washington State Park:
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