Recreation abounds on Norris Lake where the mountains meet the water. This beautiful lake extends 56 miles up the Powell River and 72 miles up the Clinch River, surrounded by the majestic mountains of East Tennessee. In the 1930s, TVA established demonstration public parks at several locations on the new Norris Reservoir, including Cove Lake, Big Ridge, and the area around Norris Dam. These parks later became the nucleus of Tennessee's state park system. Norris Dam was completed in 1936 with a height of 265 feet and length of 1,860 feet across the Clinch River. The town of Norris was built to house construction workers on the dam. It was a planned community that became a model for others throughout the nation. Norris Lake has 809 miles of shoreline and 33,840 acres of water surface and is the largest reservoir on a tributary of the Tennessee River. In a year with normal rainfall, the water level in Norris Reservoir varies about 29 feet from summer to winter. Shoreline activities abound with trails for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians. With hundreds of secluded coves, 2 state parks, two wildlife management areas, commercial marinas and 59 public access sites, Norris Lake has become a favored vacation destination. Both Norris Dam and Big Ridge State Parks provide a full line of park amenities for those that want to camp and stay awhile. An abundance of wildlife can be spotted including deer, turkey, great blue herons and a few eagles along with cows and horses grazing at the shoreline.
Fishing: Norris Lake has over 56 species of fish and is well known for its striper fishing. There are also catches of brown and rainbow trout, small and largemouth bass, walleye, and an abundant source of crappie. The Tennessee state record for brown trout was caught in the Clinch River just below Norris Dam. Striped bass exceeding 50 pounds also lurk in the lake's cool waters. Winter and summer striped bass fishing is excellent in the lower half of the lake. Walleye are stocked annually. more information
Hiking: There are several trail systems that skirt the lake on either side. Norris Dam State Park provides trail systems in three separate areas and on both sides of Norris Lake. In total, there are 20 miles of wonderful multi-use, natural surface trails. Ten miles of trail lie on the west side of the lake and the other 10 on the east side abutting and connecting to the Norris Watershed Trail System. The Norris Watershed Trails are a favorite of hikers, runners, mountain bikers and equestrians. The trail system consists of just under 30 miles of a mixture of singletrack and old dirt/gravel roadbeds. Just south of Norris Dam are several scenic trails that are a nature wonderland for wildflower enthusiasts and birdwatchers. The River Bluff Trail is across the dam from the Visitor's Center and encompasses the western riverfront while the Songbird Trail wanders along the eastern edge of the Clinch River, sharing the same parking area for the Norris Watershed Trails.
Paddling: From sheer cliffs along the dam waters to lush valleys surrounding the lake, this is a beautiful place to spend some time on the water. There are over 50 miles of islands, numerous picnic areas, caves, cliffs, beaches and gradual sloping shorelines — plenty of places to explore!