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Harrison Bay State Park and Booker T. Washington State Park


I am most often in Middle Tennessee state parks so it's always fun when I get to explore state parks in West and East Tennessee. Recently, I headed east and visited Harrison Bay State Park and Booker T. Washington State Park near Chattanooga.

Harrison Bay State Park

This is Tennessee's first state park.(1) It's a beautiful park on Chickamauga Lake; while the Lake seems to be the main attraction, I wanted to hike. I hiked one side of the Lakeshore Loop Trail, continued to the end of the Group Camp Trail, and then retraced my steps on that trail before heading down the other side of the Lakeshore Loop Trail. This route is about one mile total.

There is a gravel parking area at this trailhead on the side of the road. For the first part of this hike, I followed the edge of the Lake.

At the end of the Group Camp Trail, there is a picnic shelter and cabins.

I also went to the other end of the park and hiked the Point Trail a couple times. This short trail follows a section of the park that juts out onto the Lake.

A view of the Point Trail and the lake in Harrison Bay State Park

According to the park map, this trail connects to the Island Loop Trail, a .45 mile trail on a nearby island. I think I spotted the connecting point, but I didn't want to wade across the water to the island to see if I was right.

Booker T. Washington State Park

After leaving Harrison Bay State Park, I drove about 15 minutes to the Nature Trail at Booker T. Washington State Park. This 1.10 mile loop has some gentle rises to keep it interesting.

At about the trail's halfway mark, you can keep going straight to connect to the Outer Loop Trail or you can turn left to stay on the Nature Trail. I stayed on the Nature Trail and enjoyed hiking alongside Chickamauga Lake.

After following the edge of the lake, the Nature Trail emerges from the woods at a recreation area. This area has big picnic shelters, playgrounds, plenty of picnic tables, a basketball court, lots of big trees, and a beautiful view of the lake.

At this point, the trail runs parallel to itself for a bit. So you come out of the woods on one part of the trail and must enter the woods again using the trail right next to the portion you just left.

Sign on Booker T. Washington State Park Visitor's Center door saying it's closed until further notice and giving park rangers' phone numbers

When I visited, the Visitor's Center was closed, but if you'd like to stamp your park passport, you can still do that by using the stamp that is kept in the free books stand next to the Center's entrance.

I hope to visit both of these parks again!


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