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Wolf River WMA and Ghost River SNA

Birding Seasons:
Spring A+
Summer A
Fall A+
Winter A

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Site Description and Habitats

The majority of the Wolf River Wildlife Management Area lies along the unchannelized portion of the Wolf River from the Tennessee/Mississippi state line to the Bateman Bridge. Upland areas are characterized by agricultural fields/pastures, and scattered stands of upland hardwoods. The Wolf River WMA consists of 4,236 acres of which 2,400 acres is in the Wolf River floodplain and 1,667 acres in open agricultural and pastures. The forested acreage is >80% bottomland hardwood/swamp forest.

The Ghost River State Natural Area is a 2,220-acre, 14-mile section of the Wolf River from the parking area near La Grange to the Bateman Bridge. Here, the Ghost River section of the Wolf is unchannelized and meanders through bottomland hardwood forests, cypress-tupelo swamps, and open marshes. Some of the most impressive trees are oaks that include Cherrybark, Water Willow, and Swamp Chestnut. The low ridges above the river bottoms support Tulip Poplar, beech, and White Oak with Northern Red Oak infrequently occurring. The natural area also includes significant uplands and sandy hills adjacent to the floodplain. The Ghost River section of the Wolf River received its name from the loss of river current as the water "flows" through open marshes and bald cypress-water tupelo swamps. A canoe trail has been blazed through the disorienting maze of Virginia Willow, cypress, tupelos, and stunted Pumpkin Ash. This trail includes a 600-foot boardwalk in the Minnow Slough area.

Bird species of interest

Spring and Fall Migration: Nearly all transient warblers, vireos, thrushes and flycatchers are found annually. Golden-winged Warbler tends to occur in fall. Blackpoll (spring only), Hooded, Kentucky, Swainson’s Warblers, Philadelphia Vireo, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks can be found. Swainson’s Thrushes can be common in migration. Baltimore and Orchard Oriole, Anhinga, and Cliff Swallows (nest under bridges).

Summer: Hooded, Kentucky and Swainson’s Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, Field Sparrow, Eastern Wood-pewee, Orchard Oriole, Anhinga. Wading birds, including Great Egret can be common.

Winter: Fox, White-throated, White-crowned, Song, Swamp and Field Sparrows can be found. Raptors, including various phases of Red-tailed Hawks, can be common. Waterfowl can be found on the ponds and open water around the area.

Year-Round: Bald Eagle and Barn Owl. Northern Bobwhite may be found in and around the old fields.

Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer

Submit your data to eBird here

Other wildlife viewing opportunities
White-tailed deer are common.

Detailed directions for birding Wolf River WMA and Ghost River SNA
From Memphis, take Hwy 57 east to LaGrange and turn south on Main St at the main intersection in town (Yager Dr). Yager Dr provides access to the upstream boat ramp for canoe put-in on the Wolf River. Passing the river, make the first right onto Beasley Rd that provides access to the Mineral Slough Boardwalk and the heart of the WMA and SNA. Stay on Yager Dr for several miles (heading west) and turn right on Bateman Rd (which also intersects Hwy 57 a few miles west of LaGrange). Bateman Rd provides access to the canoe take-out parking lot and the western sides of the area with a big open marsh. The swamp on Bateman Rd is a good place to look for Bald Eagles.

Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
Mineral Slough Boardwalk: 35.02711, -89.27228
Road through swamp to old field: 35.02891, -89.2665
Bateman Road Boat Ramp: 35.027958, -89.35022

Wolf River WMA map (PDF)

Fees and Hours
No fees are required to access these areas. The areas are accessible during daylight hours year round. Check hunting guide as access is limited or not recommended during some hunts.

For tips for safely watching wildlife during hunting seasons and year round please refer to TWRA Hunting Guide about hunting seasons and public access dates.

There are no restroom facilities. The Mineral Slough boardwalk is specific destination for birders.

TWRA Region I office
200 Lowell Thomas Drive, Jackson, TN 38301
800-372-3928; 731-423-5725

Division of Natural Areas
Jackson Environmental Field Office
1625 Hollywood Drive, Jackson TN, 38305
(731) 512-1369

Info for other sites
Tennessee’s Watchable Wildlife web site