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Wise Reservoir


Elevation: 2552 ft., The Lake Wise Reservoir (also known as Bear Creek Reservoir) provides the water supply for the Town of Wise. Although heavily used by anglers and picnickers, this is also a good venue for kayaking and wildlife watching. Mixed woodlands surround the waterbody, and walking trails around the reservoir allow the naturalist to explore these forests. In the summers, the woods are home to a number of nesting migrants, including warblers, swallows and flycatchers. Spring and fall migration produce a large number of neotropical migrants. It should be noted that Kirtland’s warbler, a rare spring migrant, has been found in the area above the dam on a number of years during early May. Of course, this large body of water is also attractive to migratory waterfowl and shorebirds and can sometimes produce unusual species such as surf scoter.

Insect lovers will find this is a dragonfly paradise. At water’s edge and in the open fields near the boat launch, look for perched calliope pennant and common whitetail. Also look for slaty skimmer, prince baskettail, and several of the large, cruising gomphids as they fly over the reservoir. Herp enthusiasts know that any large body of water is sure to attract the attention of a number of reptiles and amphibians. Bullfrog, green and pickerel frogs, spring peeper, and wood frog are quite common. Eastern newts, slimy salamanders, and southern ravine salamanders have also been documented here. Northern watersnake are fairly common in these waters and can often be found basking along the banks. Black rat, eastern garter and ring-necked snakes are more common within the wooded interior.


Location Coordinates: 36.964990, -82.532210

From I-81 in Abingdon, take exit 17 and follow US-58 ALT for 46.7 miles. Turn right onto Front Street West/Rt. 158 and continue on for 0.3 miles before turning onto Laurel Avenue/Rt. 72, then continue on for another 0.3 miles before turning left onto Wise Mountain Road NW/Rt. 646. Continue for 4.6 miles before turning right onto Sportsman Drive/Rt. 829. Make an immediate right on Browning Lane/Rt. 682. Follow Browning Lane/Rt. 682 for 0.1 miles to the Bear Creek Reservoir entrance and boat launch.

Location & Directions

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Site Information

  • Site Contact: Town of Wise, Public Works Department: (276) 328-6119
  • Website
  • Access: Daily, sunrise-sunset; admission free

Birds Recently Seen at Wise Reservoir (as reported to eBird)

  • Red-eyed Vireo
  • American Crow
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Ovenbird
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • Gray Catbird
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Hooded Warbler

Seasonal Bird Observations


  • Hiking Trails
  • Parking
  • Picnic
  • Restrooms
  • Boat Ramp