Cook Recreation Area

Description of the Day Use Area
I-40 to the Cook Recreation Area begins at Exit 221B at Old Hickory Blvd and connects to Bell Road with a five-mile journey to Cook’s around the eastern end of Percy Priest Lake onto South New Hope Road, Stewart’s Ferry Pike, and back to Old Hickory Boulevard for the last mile of Metro residential roads.


The 220 acres of Cook’s peninsula is a karst landscape area which is covered with mature forest—cedar groves and hickories with wildflowers and various kinds of ferns. This acreage includes approximately 3.5 miles of shoreline.

The lake and shoreline change depending upon the USACE’s determination of water management, from winter to summer pool stages. The winter levels provide a rocky shoreline to explore, and the spring-summer rains may even raise water levels upwards toward the height of the Corp’s protective border.

Wildlife including deer, occasional coyote and bobcat, as well as smaller mammals—raccoon, opossum, skunks, and friends. Turkeys are ever-present, and for the birding community, according to one analysis, there have been at least 140 species of birds recorded there, including Bald Eagles, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Baltimore Orioles. “In the winter, it is the best spot we have for observing roosting gulls and the myriad of loons and ducks. It is also one of Nashville’s best places to simply see the sun set, or the moon rise over the water in relative peace.” (Gerdeman)

Pond Fishing

Visitors to the area may fish from the shore or in an established pond or may launch boats to search for game fish close to the shore in spawning season or in deeper waters at other times. The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency has authority on both land and water.

Hiking Trails

A 1.6 mile trail through the forest has been marked by USACE—Three Hickories Trail.
Play Waterfall Video

Sandy Beach Swimming Area

Picnic Areas

Currently there are two picnic shelters with electricity and approximately 50 concrete slabs with concrete picnic tables and benches and some with grills.


Boat Launch

Boat launch, for all types of water craft, into sheltered harbor, marked by no-wake zone.

Current Management

Since its development, the Cook Recreation Area has been under the management of USACE. A Property Manager oversees all of the Corps’ public use areas including Cook’s. The summer season (spring to fall) is the most demanding. The beach-picnic areas are open May to September but closed for the winter. In the open season, 7 AM to 6 PM, visitors pass through a fee collection station of $5 per vehicle for access to the beach and picnic areas. The station, operated by volunteers appointed by the Corps, also sells an annual vehicle pass for $20. Veterans can secure free day passes in advance. Visitors who just wish to drive to the water, fish in the pond, or launch boats are not charged. The Corps contracts services for trash removal and grass cutting. Visitors are encouraged to keep the public use area clean and presentable.
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