Tri-City Area Recreation
East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia’s Tri-City area is perfect if you enjoy outdoor activities!
Nearby national forests and parks as well as our many state and city parks provide excellent places for hiking, biking, camping, picnicking, climbing, horseback riding, or just plain sittin’- n’- lookin’.
Hunters enjoy a wide variety game, including deer, turkey, grouse, quail and water-foul. Golf addicts can choose among more than 30 golf courses within a short drive from Bristol, Johnson City and Kingsport, Tennessee.
For the more adventurous, Grandfather Mountain is a hang gliders hangout. And when it gets a little chilly in the winter, you can hit the slopes at one of several ski resorts in the North Carolina Ski Areas - less than a 2-hour drive away.
Stars of the show are the 5 Tennessee Valley Authority lakes in the immediate Tri-City area. These scenic lakes nestled at the foot of our beautiful mountains make this a genuine nature-lovers paradise. There are a number of marinas and public launching ramps for the convenience of fishermen and boating enthusiasts, and you don’t have to look far for excellent places to camp.
Named for frontiersman Daniel Boone, this lake that impounds the South Holston River is right in the middle of the triangle formed by Bristol, Johnson City, and Kingsport, Tennessee. A relatively stable water level plus its convenient location has made real estate around the lake a prime location for summer cottages as well as permanent homes. A number of privately owned commercial marinas and docks make it convenient for boaters and fishermen.
Fort Patrick Henry Lake
Fort Patrick Henry Lake impounds the South Fork Holston River and is just east of Kingsport, Tennessee. A small lake of 872 acres, its 10-mile length extends upstream to the Boone Lake Dam. Warrior Path State Park is on the lake.
South Holston Lake
South Holston Lake impounds the South Fork Holston River and is just a short distance outside of Bristol Tennessee-Virginia. Located at the western edge of the Appalachian Mountains, the Cherokee National Forest borders over half of the shoreline of this 7,580-acre lake that extends from East Tennessee into Southwest Virginia. It is one of our most beautiful lakes. Fishermen enjoy the annual spring migration of white bass in the South Fork Holston River as well as good fishing in the lake. Osceola Island and a 1-mile loop wildlife trail can be reached via a footbridge from the parking lot below the dam.
Located in East Tennessee’s Carter and Johnson Counties, Watauga Lake is a short distance from Elizabethton, Tennessee. At an elevation of more than 1,900 feet, this 16-mile long reservoir is the highest in the Tennessee River system and offers access to the Appalachian Trail. Surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest, this lake is among the most beautiful in the TVA system and is aptly named “Watauga”, a Native American term meaning “beautiful waters”. The lake impounds the Watauga River and is home to 13 species of game fish. There is a wildlife observation area below the dam.
This very small 72-acre lake is the second oldest TVA lake. It impounds the Watauga River and is only 3 miles from Watauga Lake. The water in Wilbur Lake is too cold for fish other than the regularly stocked rainbow and brown trout.
Our lakes are home to a large number of game fish, including large and small mouth bass, striped bass, walleye, trout, crappie, and bluegill. Our rivers provide great fishing, too, particularly well-known for trophy trout.
Huge brown trout over 30 inches long and weighing over 20 pounds lure fishermen from near and far to the South Fork Holston River just outside Bristol, TN. There are plenty of nice rainbow trout, too. The river runs from below the South Holston Lake dam into Boone Lake at Bluff City, TN, about 14 miles. Fishermen wade the river when TVA is not generating, although boats are needed during generating periods – which are the best times to catch a monster. Many call this beautiful clear river with its oxygen-rich water the best trout river in the eastern United States. Most of the South Holston River trout caught are released to fight another day.
A number of guides with riverboats make it easy for visiting fishermen to take advantage of the prime fishing. One is almost guaranteed a lot of fish and a reasonable chance to land that trophy.
Largely undiscovered, the nearby Nolichucky River’s Class III and Class IV rapids will test all but the most experienced white water enthusiasts. Novices and first timers should not go it alone as the river can be unpredictable and dangerous during high water periods, usually spring and fall. There are several commercial outfitters who offer group raft trips. You should try the scenic 8.5-mile trip through a national forest - if you don’t mind getting a little wet.
Whether you’re a hacker, a pro, or in between, you’ll have no problem finding a layout that will test your golfing skills. There are over 30 courses in our immediate area and, if you don’t mind a short scenic drive, you absolutely must tee it up on one of the gorgeous North Carolina mountain courses in the Boone, Blowing Rock, Linville, Newland area. The echo of an errant drive as it ricochets among the trees is a sound you’ll always remember. Click here to see a list of many of the golf courses within a short drive of the Tri-City area.