Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge
The Hiwassee Wildlife 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.
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.
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.
The Tennessee and Hiwassee River watersheds provide hunting opportunities for a variety of big and small game, including waterfowl and Sandhill Cranes. Drawings are held each October for seasonal blind/spots, located to the north and east of Chattanooga. Waterfowl hunting is permitted Thursday – Sunday, and the first and last day of duck season.