Nickajack Lake/Nickajack Bat Cave
This is a trip I have made several times with the kayak/canoe club that I often paddle with. The trip starts on the north side of the lake at the Shellmound Campground and boat ramp. There is a typically a clean bathhouse there and a resident manager of the campground that oversees the area. It's always been well kept area. The destination was the Nickajack Bat Cave on the south side of the lake, around a couple of miles from this starting point. It can also be reached from the Maple View Public Use Area/boat ramp on Old Ladds Rd, State Hwy 156. Paddling from here would only be about a 5 minute paddle.
The area has a lot of local history prior to the cave flooding that can be interesting to research (Nickajack Bat Cave). The cave itself has been the focal point of Native American Indian ceremonies as well as occupations during the Civil War and "river pirates". Of course all of that is under water now. The main interest now is the local colony of nesting gray bats during the summer months. The bat population has suffered due to the white nose syndrome.
Unfortunately during this 2 mile paddle we experienced a pretty active lightening show and had to paddle to the Maple View boat ramp to take shelter in the pavilion. There is also a trail that leads to a viewing platform of the bat cave from this ramp area. The bath house was locked but there was a portable "outhouse" here.
This is a nice summer trip. There is a swimming area at the Maple View Public Use area as well as the Shellmound Area.
The bats exit the cave at sundown and are best seen against the backdrop of the sky. At one time the estimated bat population was 100,000.
Bathhouse and camping facilities
Camping fees apply, the boat ramp is free.
I-24 to exit 158/Nickajack Lake, south on the TVA road and follow the signs
Several pictures and websites with local history are available for "Nickajack Bat Cave"