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Stone River National Battlefield

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

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Site Description and Habitats

This park has a variety of historic markers and tour stops to learn about the history of the battle that took place at the site. The driving loop has been reduced to a short route, but it travels through old field habitat with native grass and shrub cover, and mixed cedar-hardwood forests. Cedar glades are a rare habitat found only in middle Tennessee. There are several small glades at the battlefield, but they are off limits to foot traffic. Please obey signs about closed areas.

A tornado went through the park in spring 2009, causing extensive damage to the cedar forests in places, however this opened up dense unmanaged forest that was poor habitat for any wildlife and created nice early successional shrubby habitat. This area is being taken over by Chinese Privet and will only be decent habitat for so long without management. A new trail runs alongside the edge of the damaged area.

Trails on the Battlefield connect with the Stones River Greenway, which is over 12 miles in length including the spur trails. The Greenway can also be an excellent place to walk and see wildlife. A parking area for the Greenway is just one mile or so south of the Battlefield entrance.

Bird species of interest

Spring and Fall Migration: A large diversity of warblers, vireos, and thrushes may be found. Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, American Redstart, among others are regular in the mature forest areas near the first tiny parking lot off Thompson Lane. White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-rumped, House Wren, Palm Warbler (western), Nashville and Tennessee Warbler.

Summer: Field Sparrow, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted Chat, Indigo Bunting, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Prairie Warbler, and White-eyed Vireo.

Winter: Field and Swamp Sparrows are abundant, Red-breasted Nuthatch can be common in some years, while Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets mix with Carolina Chickadees in flocks in winter. Hermit Thrush can be heard "chuck"ing in the woods.

Year-Round: Great Horned Owl (more often heard than seen), Northern Bobwhite

Rarities Seen at this Site: Connecticut and Mourning Warbler (both local rarites)

Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer

Submit your data to eBird here

Cultural and Historical Interests/Activities
Civil War Museum and self-guided auto tour.

Detailed directions for birding Stone River National Battlefield From Nashville (Interstate 24 East)
Take Exit 76 and turn left onto Medical Center Parkway. Turn left onto Thompson Lane and travel 0.7 miles to a grand entrance to the park or continue past this entrance for 0.3 miles and turn right before you cross the large bridge. At the stop sign at the bottom of the slight hill, turn left and follow Old Nashville Hwy to the main entrance of the park and the Visitor's Center. The short Auto Tour ends at the Visitor's Center.

From Chattanooga (Interstate 24 West) - Take Exit 76 and turn right onto Medical Center Parkway. Follow above directions from Medical Center Parkway.

Upon entering the park:
From Thompson Lane entrance, the first tiny parking lot is your only parking on this side of the park, but is the access to the mature hardwoods on the park. From the small lot on your left at an intersection with and old road that's closed off, walk the road to the area where there are barriers. This blocked off area is the old Auto Tour and the road goes through nice forest that is often quite birdy in spring and fall. Additional trails in the area go into the mature woods.

Driving the park road, park at the next parking lot where the woods end and open into fields. There is a new mulch trail along the edge of the fields and woods, which is where the tornado created some fantastic habitat. Explore this area in all directions on foot.

Birding from around the Visitor's Center can be modest. There's a trail into the forest across the parking lot from the Visitor's Center.

The old 2 mile Auto Tour road can be walked or biked. Take snacks and water if you choose to walk the entire road. There is also a hiking trail that loops around the entire park.

Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
Visitor's Center:
35.880505, -86.434808
Entrance off Thomson Lane: 35.867891, -86.427902

Fees and Hours
The Park proper is open 8 am to 5 pm daily year round with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. However, it is open to visitors on foot or bicycle from sunrise to sunset every day by using trails from the Stones River Greenway or parking at the Hazen Brigade Monument Tour Stop parking lot on Old Nashville Highway.

Restrooms at the Visitor's Center.

Stones River National Battlefield
3501 Old Nashville Highway
Murfreesboro, TN 37129
(615) 893-9501

Info for other sites
Tennessee's Watchable Wildlife web site