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Raccoon Mountain Pumped Storage Plant

Outdoor Adventures, Wildlife Viewing Area
Scott Somershoe

This site is a monument to Tennessee Valley Authority engineering. Water is pumped from the Tennessee River into a 528 acre man-made lake atop the mountain, where it is gravity-fed to turbines within the mountain to generate electricity. A tour of the facilities is available by taking an elevator deep underground. From the mountaintop visitor center, an observation deck provides a panoramic view of the beautiful Tennessee River Gorge. The area around Raccoon Mountain is a state-designated Wildlife Observation Area. Miles of hiking trails loop around the lake provide quite a nice hike, although they are also mountain biking trails so watch for bikers.

The mountaintop is home to White-tailed Deer, Woodchucks, Gray Fox, and, of course, Raccoons. Visitors may see migrating hawks, falcons and eagles in spring and fall. The lake is a good bet for Bald Eagles and vultures during winter. A walk around a nearby picnic area may reveal many small land birds. In fall, hawk migration can be seen with passing Cooper's Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Osprey, and Northern Harriers. The most compelling wildlife attraction of the area is a large wintering population of Bald Eagles, which can be sighted from the overlook as they hunt in the woods and waters.

Common Loons may be spotted here during the winter.

From Chattanooga, take I-24 W; take exit #174 (Hwy 41) and turn right; travel 2.5 miles on Hwy 41 and turn right at pumped storage plant sign. Travel 8.2 miles, following signs to visitor center.

Best Months and Seasons for Viewing

Waterfowl and Bald Eagles can best be seen during the winter months. Migratory birds fly through in fall and spring.

Best Time for Viewing

Most mammals are nocturnal, but are also quite active at dusk or dawn. Bird watching is best in early morning.

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