The Cherokee National Forest, which covers 633,000 acres in East Tennessee offers many opportunities to view wildlife throughout the year. From hiking trails and scenic drives, one can view birds, butterflies and blooms in breathtaking color or stroll along designated Watchable Wildlife trails within the Cherokee National forest. The Cherokee National Forest features habitat for black bears, European boar, red squirrels, eastern chipmunks, and red and grey foxes. The forest hosts a great variety of nesting warblers, vireos, tanagers, fly-catchers, etc. the best viewing is May to October. A complete birding checklist for the Cherokee National Forest can be obtained by contacting the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association at www.tennesseeoverhill.com or 423-263-7232. For more information, contact: Cherokee national Forest: Ocoee/Hiwassee Ranger District: 423-338-5201
Hiwassee State Scenic River and the John Muir Trail is home to an assortment of wildlife. Beaver activity is easily seen along the John Muir Trail with hellbender salamanders, the largest in North America seen resting on the river rocks.
Directions: From Ocoee take Hwy 411 north to Hwy 30 East. Travel Hwy 30 East to Reliance, cross the Hiwassee River and follow the signs to the John Muir Trail.
Conasauga River offers underwater viewing of over 60 fish species, including the federally-listed blue shiner, amber darter, Conasauga logperch, the state-listed trispot and coldwater darters. Best viewing is on weekdays during warm, dry months.
Directions: From Ocoee travel south on Hwy 411 6.7 miles. Turn left onto TN 313 (Ladd Springs Road). Travel 4 miles then bear right on Forest Service Road 221. Go 4.7 miles and turn right onto parking area for Conasauga River Trail 61.
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