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Big South Fork NRRA - Leatherwood Ford

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

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Site Description and Habitats

This gorge formed a social chasm between Fentress and Scott Counties through the 1800's. The footbridge here was part of the old highway. Several trails originate here, including the popular Angel Falls Trail, which leads to Angel Falls. This trail, which parallels the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River on the parking lot side, is an easy level walk on an old roadbed offering continuous views of the river, high cliffs, and in spring, wildflowers.

Bird species of interest

Spring and Fall Migration: Warblers, vireos, and thrushes are often common across the area. Louisiana Waterthrush, Eastern Phoebe, Chipping Sparrow, Tennessee, Blackburnian, Bay-breasted, Blue-winged, and Blackpoll Warbler can be common. Eastern Whip-poor-wills can be very abundant (mostly heard only) in spring and early summer at dusk and especially on nights with a full moon.

Summer: Ovenbird, Hooded Warbler, and Scarlet Tanager. Louisiana Waterthrush, Acadian Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Worm-eating Warbler, Northern Parula, Swainson's Warbler.

Woodland birding can be slow, but look for Red-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creeper, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglet, and sparrows may occur along forest edges. Northern Saw-whet Owls have been found in the past.

Barred and Eastern Screech-Owl are regular, resident species including Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Northern Cardinal, among other residents are common.

Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer
- there's only one hotspot for Big South Fork and it isn't for Leatherwood Ford

Submit your data to
eBird here

Detailed directions for birding Leatherwood Ford
Located off TN 297, between Jamestown and Oneida. Turn north into the parking lot at the bottom of the gorge, near the east end of the bridge across the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River.

Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
Parking Lot at the Ford: 36.477085, -84.668287

There's a nice list of other access points and trails at Big South Fork on Dr. Steve Stedman's web site here.

Additional information on bird species and abundances at the Big South Fork here.

Fees and Hours
Open daylight hours, year round however some areas are open 24 hrs a day. No fee for birding and hiking, however there are fees for camping and other activities.

There are restroom and camping facilities.

Please refer to TWRA Hunting Guide about hunting seasons and public access dates. Access dates vary by site.

Big South Fork NRRA

Info for other sites
Tennessee's Watchable Wildlife web site