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Rock Island State Park

Birding Seasons:
Spring A
Summer B
Fall A
Winter B

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Site Description and Habitats

The scenic beauty and tranquility of this wooded park is dominated by the Great Falls of the Caney Fork River - an imposing limestone gorge (called a "gulf"). It provides scenic overlooks, waterfalls and deep pools for fishing, rock-hopping and exploring. Located at the confluence of the Collins and Caney Fork Rivers, this 883-acre park has a natural sand beach on Center Hill Reservoir. Historic features of the park include a 19th century textile mill and one of Tennessee's early hydroelectric plants. The park offers several marked hiking trails through pine and hardwood forest.

Bird species of interest

Spring and Fall Migration: Nearly all warblers, vireos, thrushes, and flycatchers can be found in migration, including Blackpoll (spring only), Tennessee, Nashville, Magnolia, Bay-breasted, Blackburnian, and Chestnut-sided Warblers, Philadelphia and Blue-headed Vireo, Swainson's and Gray-cheeked Thrush, Veery, and Least Flycatcher. Eastern Whip-poor-will can be common in the woods at dusk and night. Sandhill Cranes can be seen and heard flying over in November and throughout the winter.

Summer: Louisiana Waterthrush, Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Prothonotary and Kentucky Warbler, Acadian Flycatcher, Osprey, Wood Duck, Eastern Wood-pewee, Chimney Swift, White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireo.

Sparrows including Fox, White-throated, Song, and Swamp can be found, Hermit Thrush, Winter Wren, and both kinglets. Sandhill Cranes may be seen or heard flying over.

Eastern Towhee, Wild Turkey, Barred Owl, Field Sparrow, Eastern Screech-Owl, Cooper's Hawk, Killdeer, Red-tailed Hawk, Cedar Waxwing, and American Robin.

Species List via eBird Hotspot Explorer

Submit your data to eBird here

Detailed directions for birding Rock Island State Park
From McMinnville, travel east on US 70S. Turn left (north) onto Hwy 136 (there are signs) and follow signs, turning onto Hwy 287, to the state park.

On Hwy 287, the Collins River hiking trail (3 miles, pretty easy) has access on the left side of the road at the crossing of the big powerlines.

Upon turning onto Beach Road, stop at the visitor's center and grab a map. Take the first two right turns to picnic areas and short trails for overlooks. Also, travel towards the campground and on the left is an open field with a parking lot above tennis courts. park here for the 1.7 mile Bluff Trail, which travels through mature forest and has some rolling hills. Follow Beach Road and signs to the beach at the end of the road. Explore trails on foot and scan the river and cliff faces. The scenery is spectacular.

Large concentrations of Black and Turkey Vultures may be present on the power substation, powerlines, and adjacent structures.

Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
Entrance to main part of the State Park on Hwy 287: 35.808382, -85.641778
Beach: 35.816073, -85.64843

Fees and Hours
No fees are required to access these areas. A wildlife Observation Platform is open year-round to visitors. Park is open 7:30am - 10pm

Rock Island State Park has some of the finest Tennessee State Park cabins and they are open year-round. They are located a half-mile from the natural sand beach along the Caney Fork River. The park also has two campgrounds offering 60 different campsites that can accommodate RVs, trailers and tents. Restrooms are available as well.

Rock Island State Park
82 Beach Rd
Rock Island, TN 38581

Info for other sites
Tennessee's Watchable Wildlife web site