Public Notice as of March 14, 2017: Dunbar Cave State Park is currently in the process of restoring the lake to a more pristine and functional body of water that will better serve visitors. In order for this to be accomplished, Tennessee State Park staff are lowering the lake to conduct soil testing. Once tested, staff will be better able to assess the situation and devise a cost-effective repair that will enhance the lake for the local community.
Interpretive Programs and Tours
The park offers scheduled nature programs year-round for all ages, on many nature topics including birds, wildflowers, bats, geology and more. The park also offers ranger-led Cave Tours during May, June and July. Reservations are required. For complete tour details, please view our event calendar.
Dunbar is one of the largest caves in Montgomery County. This eight mile long cave has historical, natural, archaeological and geological significance. Excavations revealed that the cave has been occupied by man for thousands of years, drawn by its constant stream flow and natural air conditioning.
One of the unique features of the cave are the Native American Mississippian hieroglyphs, dating from approximately 1350 AD. Religious symbols including circles, stars and a supernatural male warrior figure were drawn and carved on the walls of the cave and can be seen on the tour. The cave is also habitat for several rare animals including the federally endangered gray bat, a blind cave crayfish and the southern cavefish. Cave salamanders, crickets and other animals as well as fungi and bacteria live near the front of the cave in the area known as the twilight zone.
In the spring and fall, the Lake Trail offers excellent birding. The trail meanders along the edge of Swan Lake and into the hilly mixed deciduous woods, offering a good mix waterfowl and song birds. Swan Lake supports waterfowl visitors during migration and in winter. In the summer, the cave mouth is a great place to experience cool cave air, and see the nesting Eastern Phoebe.
Download a pdf of our bird checklist.
Bank fishing is a popular activity on beautiful Swan Lake. The cold, spring-fed, 15 acre lake is open year round and provides habitat for bass, panfish, and catfish. Boats are not permitted on the lake. Bait, tackle, snacks and fishing licenses are available off-site.
Over three miles of hiking trails range from the easy Lake Trail, the moderate Short Loop, to the strenuous Recovery Trail, which has several steep hills. All trails take you past the cave entrance and around the lake. The Short Loop and Recovery Trails take you into the forest and over successional fields. All trails begin and end at the visitors' center.
Lake Trail — 0.7 Miles — Paved Surface — Easy
Short Loop Trail — 1.1 Miles — Natural Surface — Moderate
Recovery Trail — 1.9 Miles — Natural Surface — Moderate