Cove Lake State Park lies in a beautiful mountain valley on the eastern edge of the Cumberland Mountains. The diversity of wildflowers and breathtaking vistas, scenic nature trails and bike trails through open grasslands and woodlands attract hikers and bikers.
Bird watchers search for rare species of bird, such as the Swainson’s Warbler or the elusive Prothonotary Warbler, both documented on site. The park is home to a variety of wintering waterfowl, including several hundred Canada geese, buffleheads, mergansers, redheads, northern shovel bills, and blue and green wing teals, and visits from bald eagles nesting on adjoining Norris Lake.
Nearby is a rare geologic formation, the Devil's Race Track, whose steep pinnacle affords a panoramic view. The park includes the Mississippian site known as Irwin Village, excavated in 1934 by the University of Tennessee and an associate from the Smithsonian, yielding artifacts of early Mound Builders (now housed in the Smithsonian and the McClung Museum in Knoxville). TVA and the CCC were responsible for the park’s early development. Manhattan Project scientists from Oak Ridge were sometimes hidden here, both during and after World War II.
The October Louie Bluie Festival is named in honor of LaFollette’s Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong (1909-2003), an internationally acclaimed string band musician of the 1920s, a renowned artist, storyteller, and writer. The spirit of “Louie Bluie” is presented on three stages of music, storytelling and theater, alongside arts and crafts and a mouthwatering array of authentic East Tennessee cooking.
In addition to hiking and biking, the park offers a restaurant, swimming, fishing, camping, boating, and picnicking.
There is a 3.5 mile paved hiking trail also used for biking. There is no mountain biking in the park. Mountain bikers can visit nearby Cross Mountain which is only 5 miles from Cove Lake.
Year-round fishing is permitted on 210-acre Cove Lake. There is no park fee for fishing but a valid temporary or annual Tennessee fishing license is necessary for persons over 15. Bass and bluegill are the best sporting fish in the lake, but good catches of crappie always tempt the angler. Fishing is allowed from anywhere on the banks of the lake.
The 3.5-mile paved hiking trail is also used for biking. There is no mountain biking in the park. Mountain bikers can visit nearby Cross Mountain which is only 5 miles from Cove Lake.
The outdoor swimming pool complex offers an Olympic-sized swimming pool, kiddy pool, and restrooms.
Rowboats and pedal boats are available for rent on the lake, but no personally owned boats are permitted. No gas powered motors are allowed but you may bring your own electric trolling motor to put on the fishing boats. Boat rental is year-round.
The Cove Lake has 100 campsites, all equipped with water and electrical, most with grills and tables. There are two modern bathhouses. Stay limit is two weeks. Tents are allowed on all the campsites.
Campsites should be reserved in advance by calling the park or you may make Cove Lake Campground Reservations online.
112 picnic tables and grills to serve Cove Lake day-users. Most sites are adjacent to the lake. Six large picnic pavilions, playgrounds, playfields, restrooms and water are conveniently located to serve picnickers. Picnic areas are not covered but are situated in shady locations.
Three of the pavilions can seat up to 50 people and three can seat 60-65 people. Pavilions may be reserved up to one year in advance. Unreserved pavillions are available on a first come-first serve basis.
There is one indoor pavilion that can be used for meetings, weddings, rehearsal dinners, family reunions, church picnics and wedding receptions. It is equipped with a full size kitchen and central heat and air. Snacks are not provided but a leased restaurant is located next door. The pavilion can accommodate up to 100 people.
Tour buses are welcome.
Playgrounds are available near picnic areas.
Rickard Ridge BBQ at Cove Lake is now open, featuring BBQ pork, ribs, chicken, black angus burgers, and catfish. Sandwiches, appetizers, fresh salads, and desserts are also offered daily. Group take-out specials, catering, and wedding packages are also available.
Check back soon for more events, or visit our event page for events in other parks.
Originally called Fork Mountain Park, this was a demonstration park operated by TVA and National Parks to gauge public interest in such resources. Cabins built by the CCC were demolished in the mid-1970s and replaced with a modern facility now used for family reunions, church gatherings and receptions. Among the original buildings are the park’s office, Bidon Shop, part of the restaurant and a powder shed. The area now covered by Norris Lake was once known as the Free Soil.
Among the wildflowers at Cove Lake are passion flower, trilliums, pink lady slipper, button bush, hearts-a-busting, alumroot, and cardinal flower.
Park usage has changed little since 1950, except for Swimming, camping, walking, biking, fishing and a vast array of other outdoor recreational activities are still very common today. The park’s interpretive programs include weapons used during the French and Indian war, guided nature hikes, park history, wildlife, and, in conjunction with local TWRA officers, programs on canines used in search efforts. Local military officers have also assisted, giving children a hands-on experience with helicopters.
110 Cove Lake Ln.
Caryville, TN 37714
Fax: (423) 566-9717
Cove Lake is located
30 miles northwest of Knoxville,
on U.S. 25W. From I-75, take
Exit 134; travel 1/2 mile on Veterans
Memorial Highway and take the first left turn.
8 a.m. until sunset