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Obed Wild and Scenic River National Park
Site Description and Habitats
The Obed River corridor extends from one mile downstream (east) of Highway 298 (Genesis Road) in the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area to the confluence with the Emory River; Clear Creek from the west Morgan County line to the confluence with the Obed River; Daddys Creek from the Morgan County line to the confluence with the Obed River; and the Emory River 1/4 mile upstream from the confluence with the Obed River to Nemo Bridge. The site is the only Federal scenic river in Tennessee. These waterways have cut narrow gorges creating bluffs some 500 feet high and narrow river beds. Represented are old growth trees, clear waters, and sharp elevation changes. Many large hemlocks and small steams are present.
The National Park has opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, camping and many hiking trails. We recommend visiting the park headquarters and visitor center in downtown Wartburg.
The pristine, non-dammed rivers attract whitewater boaters to some of the finest paddling (class I-IV rapids) in the United States. There are numerous waterfalls both in the streams and falling off the steep walls of the canyons. The steep ravines and gorges have kept a few areas from being logged, and, thus, there are several areas where old growth trees occur. One of these is near Nemo where the Cumberland Trail crosses the Emory River.
The rock walls that form the canyons in Clear Creek and the Obed River are very steep and beautiful. Rock climbers come from all over to these sties that are rated easy to very difficult. The Lilly area has a handicap accessible boardwalk that offers several scenic views of Clear Creek Canyon. It is also the site of a large unique sandstone bluff that contains several endangered plant species that grow no where else in the world.
The Lilly Bluff Overlook on the Obed Wild and Scenic River looks much the same today as it did when the first white settlers strolled its banks in the late 1700s. The Lily Bluff Overlook is just a short walk through the woods from the parking lot and boasts an excellent boardwalk to the edge of the bluffs overlooking the river.
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.
Submit your data to eBird here
Detailed directions for birding Obed Wild and Scenic River National Park
Directions to Lilly Bluff Overlook:
Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
There's a nice list of other access points and trails at Big South Fork on Dr. Steve Stedman's web site here.