Return to map

Big South Fork NRRA - Twin Arches

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

View Larger Map


Submit a sighting via or

Site Description and Habitats

Twin Arches is an unusual double sandstone stone arch formed by erosion along a narrow ridge. A designated State Natural Area owned by the NPS, the site's two arches (North and South) are considered the largest in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. This pair of arches forms one of the largest natural bridge complexes in the world. The short 0.7-mile Twin Arches Trail leading to the arches starts at the trailhead. The trail follows a narrow ridge where the trail splits and forms a loop. Turning left here and descending two sets of stairs will take you to the base of the cliff. Staying to the right, you will travel on the bluffline to the North Arch. This trail divides again with the left trail crossing the South Arch. The stairway between the arches leads down to the base of the cliff and back across the top of the North Arch, forming a loop.

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.

Winter: 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.

Year-Round: 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 at Twin Arches

Submit your data to eBird here

Detailed directions for birding Twin Arches

Twin Arches trailhead is located off Hwy 154 (Pickett Park Highway). Follow Hwy 154 for 1.8 miles north of the Hwy 297 intersection. Then, turn right onto Divide Road. After traveling 1.3 miles, Divide Road will fork; stay left on Divide Road for another 2.7 miles. Then, turn right onto Twin Arches Road which dead ends at the Twin Arches Trailhead.

There is a trail to the arches and back, but also a 5.5 mile loop which is very nice. Look for Swainson's Warblers in the thickets along the creeks and ravines. General woodland birding is good in spring and fall, with less activity in mid-summer and in winter.

Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
Parking lot: 36.5444, -84.74183

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