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Frozen Head State Park and SNA

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Site Description and Habitats

Frozen Head State Park and Natural Area is a 13,122 acre area in the Cumberland Mountains in Morgan County. It is mostly forested and features 14 peaks exceeding 3,000 feet in elevation. The highest point, 3,324 foot Frozen Head Mountain, is one of the highest peaks in the Tennessee Cumberlands. In addition to offering spectacular scenery and wildflowers, Frozen Head supports high breeding populations of several Neotropical migrant birds, including the Cerulean Warbler, as well as breeding populations of a few high elevation species which are rare in Tennessee outside of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Frozen Head contains many stands of the mixed mesophytic forest type, and some of these stands have several old growth characteristics.

The park has over 50 miles of marked trails including one small loop dedicated to interpreting the park's natural areas. Additionally, there are regularly scheduled activities offered by the rangers at the park. Call or visit their website in advance of your trip for details.

Bird species of interest

Spring and Fall Migration: Warblers, vireos, and thrushes are often common across the area. Tennessee, Blackburnian, Bay-breasted, Blue-winged, Cape May, Nashville, and Blackpoll (spring only) Warbler can be common among many others. Swainson's and Gray-cheeked Thrush, America Pipit, Least Flycatcher (possible nesting), and Sandhill Cranes may be seen or heard in flocks in fall and spring. Eastern Whip-poor-wills should be found (mostly heard only) in spring and early summer at dusk and especially on nights with a full moon.

Cerulean Warblers can be very common at higher elevations, but are also found along the creek aross from the headquarters and by the picnic areas just down the hill from the campground and at the campground. Ceruleans arrive in mid-April.

Summer: Cerulean Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Ovenbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, Hooded, Black-and-White, and Worm-eating Warbler, Northern Parula, Scarlet Tanager, Acadian Flycatcher on every creek, Broad-winged Hawk, Chipping Sparrow, Red-eyed Vireo, and Great Crested Flycatcher. Blackburnian Warbler (typically at higher elevations), Black-throated Blue Warbler (very rare), and Veery (rare) are local highlights away from the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Woodland birding can be slow, but look for Red-breasted Nuthatches, Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, Brown Creeper, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglet, and sparrows may occur along forest edges. Golden Eagles are rarely, if ever, seen, but research in the area has found good numbers of them in the Cumberland Mountains and several GPS tracked birds have spent time on the park property, so make sure you look at all the "vultures" flying over.

Ruffed Grouse can be found in the woods and on trails and roads. Common Ravens are rare, but regular. Barred, Great Horned, and Eastern Screech-Owl are regular. Resident species including Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Northern Cardinal, among other residents are common.

Rarities Seen at this Site: American Bittern, Brown-headed Nuthatch (locally rare)

Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer

Submit your data to eBird here

Detailed directions for birding Frozen Head State Park and SNA
From I-40, take exit 347 in Harriman and travel north on Hwy. 27 to Wartburg. Turn right (East) on Hwy. 62. Travel 2 miles and turn left on Flat Fork Road. Travel 4 miles to the park entrance. There is limited road access, but many parking areas are trail heads. If you don't want to do a tough long hike, consider walking out and back a mile.

From the campground, there is a small lot at a gate on a road that goes up the mountain. The walk up the road isn't especially difficult and is quite nice in spring. Just remember you have to come down!

The hike to the Firetower is excellent, but is 3+ miles and half is straight uphill.

Obtain maps in the Visitor's center (they may still accept ONLY cash).

Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
Visitor's Center: 36.1253, -84.5041

Fees and Hours
No fees are required to access these areas. Open year-round 8 am to sunset

There are restroom facilities and seasonal camping.

On ALL hikes, wear appropriate footwear, take food, and drink, and keep an eye out for rattlesnakes

964 Flat Rock Road
Watburg, TN 37887

Info for other sites
Tennessee's Watchable Wildlife web site