Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge

The Hiwassee Refuge is located on 6,000 acres of land encircling the confluence of the Tennessee and Hiwassee Rivers about one hour north of Chattanooga near the town of Birchwood.

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In the summer months, the public can access all lands and waters within the refuge to observe resident and migrating birds and seasonal wildflower blooms, including great swaths of water hyacinths in Hiwassee Island's inlets.

During the winter, migrating waterfowl, including 50,000 Sandhill Cranes and some endangered Whooping Cranes, stop over at the refuge on their way south.

cherokee removal memorial park
Cherokee Removal Memorial Park

The Hiwassee Refuge is also steeped in Native American history, lying near the center of Cherokee Nation's ancestral lands, which once stretched into Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

Blythe Ferry, one of the debarkation points for the Cherokee Forced Removal (Trail of Tears), is now home to the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park.

Video Tour - Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge by Ben Cagle

Related Activities
Flat water paddling, fishing, licensed hunting only

Distance from Outdoor Chattanooga
48 miles | 55 minutes

GPS Coordinates: Refuge Viewing Platform
35.401924, -84.990076

Google Map

Dates | Hours
Dawn to dusk
NOTE: From November 15 through the last day of February, fishing and public entry to the refuge is permitted only while on the main river channel passing through the refuge.

Contact Information
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
Region III
464 Industrial Blvd.
Crossville, TN 38555

Tennessee's Watchable Wildlife: Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge

Sandhill Cranes at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge