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Site Description and Habitats:
The rolling hills of the Cumberland Plateau are managed in this area for all types of wildlife. Across Catoosa WMA, visitors can find mature hardwood forest, young hardwood forest, dense vegetation along crystal clear streams, and open oak savanna. The oak savanna area is actively managed to maintain open woodlands and native grass systems that historically occurred in the region before fire was removed from the system and forests dominated the area. Other areas appear in transition due to pine bark beetle infestations and extensive loss of pine trees. Auto viewing is a good way to see wildlife at Catoosa WMA. Hiking opportunities are plentiful with over 110 miles of gravel road and 150 miles of logging roads. Some short hiking trails are present. Ticks are abundant nearly year round, so be warned!
The Obed Wild and Scenic River runs through Catoosa and can be explored from road crossings, however there are no trails along most river access points.The Devil's Breakfast Table is one spot to see. It is a wonderful stopping point with a great view of Daddy's Creek (home to the Tangerine Darter) as well as nice wildflower opportunities. Additionally, the area of the Catoosa WMA located west of the Devil's Breakfast Table is home to a substantial Oak Savanna Restoration project. As this project progresses, there will be unique opportunities to see birds, wildflowers and butterflies in this area. The Wartburg entrance leads to a scenic drive that is very different from the oak savanna restoration areas. There are opportunities to get out and take in the quiet woods and birdsong, or view the rivers and streams in the area. While not in possession of especially large trees, the forest understory is outstanding, hosting high densities of bigleaf magnolia, eastern redbud, slippery elm, devil's walkingstick (Aralia spinosa), sourwood, and evergreen rhododendron. The forest canopy is dense, creating a dim, mysterious air throughout the far eastern portion of the site.
Check access dates as the area is sometimes closed.
Bird species of interest:
Spring and Fall Migration: Swainson's Thrush, Veery, and most eastern warblers, including Black-throated Green Warbler, Tennessee, Nashville, Chestnut-sided, and Worm-eating Warbler, can be common. In fall, flocks of Sandhill Cranes can be seen flying south. Eastern Whip-poor-will and Chuck-wills-widow can be heard on many nights in spring, esp. on moon lit nights.
Summer: Prairie Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Ovenbird, Red-eyed and White-eyed Vireo, Swainson's Warbler (rare), Louisiana Waterthrush (regular), Eastern Wood-pewee, Great Crested Flycatcher, Field Sparrow, Summer and Scarlet Tanager.
Winter: Song, Swamp, and White-throated Sparrows, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, and Winter Wren. Golden Eagle is possible, but rarely seen, however GPS tracked birds frequent the area.
Year-Round: Red-tailed Hawks, Red-headed Woodpecker, Northern Bobwhite (uncommon in the savannah area), American Kestrel, Wild Turkey, and Ruffed Grouse (very rare now)
Species list via eBirdHotspot Explorer
Submit your data to eBird here
Other wildlife viewing opportunities
Devil's Breakfast Table is a wonderful stopping point with a great view of Daddy's Creek (home to the Tangerine Darter) as well as nice wildflower opportunities. River Otter
Detailed directions for birding Catoosa WMA:
Take Catoosa Road from Wartburg to Old Catoosa Campground, eight miles. Once inside the WMA, there are several campgrounds, wildlife and scenic opportunities. If you would like more information, you should go to the check-in station via the following directions. Turn left at Catoosa Campground. Go five miles to Bi-color Station.
Peavine Rd entrance - From I-40, exit 322, Peavine Rd, travel north on Peavine Rd for 1.8 miles and make a left onto Firetower Rd. Once on Firetower Rd, travel 2.8 miles to the end of pavement and continue 0.6 miles more to a gate (Google maps show the road as Otter Creek Rd). This is the entrance to Catoosa WMA. Follow the road 3.1 miles to the savanna restoration site. Travel 8.2 miles past the gate to the Devil's Breakfast Table area (or 14.7 miles from turning onto Firetower Rd).
Devil's Breakfast Table area - follow Peavine Rd entrance directions. Devil's Breakfast Table parking area is on the right just across the bridge. There is a trailhead about 40 yards down the road. From Genesis Rd (Hwy 298), go east on Potter's Ford until the road comes to a T (Otter Creek Rd). Make a left and go about a mile until you reach the open savanna habitat. There is approximately 3000 acres of open savanna in the area. Several side roads provide access to other areas of open woodlands.
Potter's Ford hiking trail - there is a nice trail 3.1 miles down Potter's Ford Rd from the entrance off Genesis Rd. There is a small pull off for parking.
Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates:
Devil's Breakfast Table: 36.058796, -84.792257
SW access road: 36.03199, -84.927887
Genesis Rd Checking Station access: 36.07356, -84.96071
Potters Ford Road: 36.08204, -84.94926
Bicolor Rd Checking Station access: 35.9938, -84.6776
Catoosa WMA map
Fees and Hours
No fees are required to access these areas. The areas are accessible during daylight hours year round.
Ticks are insanely abundant here, even in winter. Rattlesnakes and wild hogs are present.
Please refer to TWRA Hunting Guide about hunting seasons and public access dates. Access dates vary by site.
There are no restroom facilities or designated birding observation areas.
TWRA Region 3 Office
464 Industrial Blvd.
Crossville, TN 38555931-484-9571
Info for other sites
Tennessee's Watchable Wildlife web site