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TENNESSEE WILDLIFE VIEWING TRAIL » East Tennessee
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Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area-Leatherwood Ford

Site Directions: Located off TN 297, between Jamestown and Oneida. Turn north into the parking lot at the bottom of the gorge, near the east end of the bridge across the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River.
Lat-Long: 36.4761, -84.67167
Hours: daylight hours, however some areas are open 24 hrs a day
Seasonality: year round
Fees: no fee for birding and hiking, however fees may apply for other activities

Site Description: This gorge formed a social chasm between Fentress and Scott Counties through the 1800's. The footbridge here was part of the old highway. Several trails originate here, including the popular Angel Falls Trail, which leads to Angel Falls. This trail, which parallels the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River on the parking lot side, is an easy level walk on an old roadbed offering continuous views of the river, high cliffs, and in spring, wildflowers.



Wildlife to Watch: The site is a large, mature forest that contains a high density of Neotropical species and individuals. Some common breeding birds are Red-eyed Vireo, Ovenbird, Hooded Warbler, Indigo Bunting, Black-throated Green Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Worm-eating Warbler, and Pine Warbler. Sharp-shinned Hawk, Swainson's Warbler, and Blue-headed Vireo are exceptional nesting birds in the area. Swainson's Warblers can be found along steep gorges with thick vegetation, but they are uncommon and not always detected. Mink may be seen in some areas. White-tailed deer and Wild Turkey are commonly seen around the park. Some overlooks can be good for migrating raptors in September and October.

Northern Saw-whet Owls can be found in winter with some regularity, but much effort is needed to locate these birds.

NOTE: Please refer to TWRA Hunting Guide about hunting seasons and public access dates. Access dates vary by site.


For more information:

Tennessee Ornithological Society - Audubon Important Bird Area web page

Leatherwood Ford hiking trail information

Tennessee's Cumberland Plateau Nature Trail


Submit your data to eBird and help us build a 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.