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.
Birdwatchers search for rare species of bird, such as the Swainson’s Warbler or the elusive Prothonotary Warbler, both documented at Cove Lake. 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.
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