Norris Dam Reservation
Site Directions: From I-75 north of Knoxville, take exit 122 (Norris/Clinton). After exiting, turn east on TN 61 (right turn if exiting from I-75 N, left if exiting from I-75S). Turn left onto US 441N after 1.4 miles and after passing the Museum of Appalachia. After driving 6.3 miles on US 441N you will arrive at the dam (coordinates 36.2244, -84.0922). Alternatively, if traveling on I-75 south from Kentucky, take exit 128 (Lake City) and then US 441S for 4.5 miles to the dam.
Lat-Long: 36.2244, -84.0922
Riverbluff Trail is a 3.3-mile trail through old growth forest on the west bank of the Clinch River below Norris Dam. To get to the trail head, go north on US 441 for 1 mile and turn left onto Dabney Lane (the second paved road to the left). Immediately after turning off of US 441, turn left at the fork and follow the road down the hill to the marked trailhead parking area.
Lat-Long: 36.2202, -84.0947
Hours: daylight hours
Seasonality: year round
Site Description: Norris Dam is a good year-round birding location about 20 miles north of Knoxville. It was built by the Tennessee Valley Authority in the early 1930s and was the first of the many large and small dams built by TVA. Over the years since then, TVA, Tennessee State Parks, and the City of Norris have developed many recreational facilities near Norris Dam. The area now offers a variety of habitats including Norris Lake, the river, riparian forests, mature woodlands, old fields and hedgerows, and a woodland stream.
Riverbluff Trail is a 3.3-mile trail through old growth forest on the west bank of the Clinch River below Norris Dam and passes below moist limestone bluffs before climbing away from the river and returning along the ridgetop. The Riverbluff Trail has one of the most spectacular early spring wildflower displays in East Tennessee. The trail difficulty is moderate; allow plenty of time to enjoy the wildflowers and birds.
Wildlife to Watch: Many birds are common breeders here, but a few found in spring and summer include Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Pewee, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler, and Orchard Oriole. During the winter, watch for Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and White-throated Sparrows. Great Blue Heron, Canada Geese, semi-domesticated Mallards, and Belted Kingfisher are regular here, and Double-crested Cormorant and Wood Duck are occasionally present.
The wildflowers along Riverbluff Trail are best from early March into May. Among the most showy wildflowers are large beds of trout lilies, bloodroot, celandine poppies, Dutchman's breeches, dwarf crested iris, columbine, and several species of trilliums.
NOTE: Please refer to TWRA Hunting Guide about hunting seasons and public access dates. Access dates vary by site.
For more information:
Tennessee Ornithological Society - Bird Finding
Tennessee's Cumberland Plateau Nature Trail
Birds of Norris Dam State Park- Songbird Trail from eBird submissions
Birds of Norris Dam State Park- East Overlook from eBird submissions
State Park web page
Submit your data to eBird and help us add to the list of birds seen at this site
Be sure to check out our Safety Tips page for important information regarding viewing wildlife in these areas.