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TENNESSEE WILDLIFE VIEWING TRAIL » Middle Tennessee
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Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Nature Park

Site Directions:
From I-65/I-24, take Exit 49 (the first exit north of the Cumberland River) and go east on Shelby Avenue. Turn right (south) onto South 5th Street to the T-intersection with Davidson Street. Turn left (east) onto Davidson and follow it past the stone entrance columns into Shelby Park.

To get to the Mission Hill area of Shelby Park (see below), exit I-65/I-24 at Exit 49 and take Shelby Avenue east to the 4-way stop at South 19th Street. Go straight through the intersection and turn left (north) onto the next street, South 20th Street. Park in the paved community center lot on the right.

The community center (Lat: 36.1705°N Long: -86.7357°W) address is South 20th at Shelby Avenue.

Shelby Bottoms: The main trailhead and entrance is at the end of Davidson Street, just east of the railroad trestle separating Shelby Park and Shelby Bottoms. Follow the directions above for Shelby Park and continue on Davidson Street to the Shelby Bottoms Greenway parking area under the railroad bridge. Several signs mark the route to Shelby Bottoms.

Nature Center location - Lat: 36.1668°N Long: -86.7258°W
Hours: day light hours
Seasonality: year round
Fees: none

Site Description: Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Nature Park is an 810-acre linear park approximately three miles long and one-half mile wide. Shelby Park marks the southern boundary, a residential area the western edge, the Cumberland River the east side, and Cooper Creek and another residential area define the northern boundary. The landscape is mostly flat alluvial floodplain with small upland areas and is drained by several deep ravines. Approximately 75% of the area is mowed or irregularly mowed fields that had been in agricultural use before the area became a park in 1994. The wooded area includes some upland forest with Shumard, Red, White and Bur oaks as well as hickories, hackberry, and elm. The bottomland habitat includes a variety of oaks and hickories with beech, ash, elm, and Sweetgum. Several large stands of native cane line the ravines. The aquatic features include an old beaver pond/wetland, a small pond/wetland with recent beaver activity on the north end, a small frog pond, two restored ponds, some natural wetland areas, and the Cumberland River. The Bottoms, which has a north and south entrance with parking areas and orientation signage, includes approximately eight miles of paved multiuse greenway trail and five miles of mulched trails, an observation platform, and river overlooks.

In 2008, a new Nature Center was opened to the public. In addition, a bridge was recently completed at the east end of the Greenway, which connects with the area near Opry Mills Mall.

Wildlife to Watch: This park is a migration trap for birds passing through in spring and fall. Nearly all warblers found in Tennessee have been documented. Marsh and open land birds such as American Bittern, Virginia Rail, Short-eared Owl, Willow Flycatcher, and Sedge Wren have been recorded here. More commonly, breeding Yellow-breasted Chat, White-eyed Vireo, Northern Mockingbird, American Woodcock, Eastern Kingbird, and Great Crested Flycatcher are found in summer. Warbling Vireos are often seen in the trees near the nature center. In winter, Northern Harrier, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, and Song Sparrow, among many others, can be found in grassy and overgrown areas.

For more information:

Shelby Bottoms Nature Center

Link to Shelby Bottoms Park Maps

Shelby Bottoms Greenway Map (PDF)

Tennessee Ornithological Society - Audubon Important Bird Area web page

Tennessee Ornithological Society - Bird Finding site description

Birds of Shelby Bottoms Greenway from eBird submissions


Submit your data to eBird and help us add to the list of birds seen at this site


Be sure to check out our Safety Tips page for important information regarding viewing wildlife in these areas.