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Cherokee National Forest

Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge
Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge, encompassing more than 51,000 acres, is located on Kentucky Lake in northwest Tennessee. The refuge's three units, Big Sandy, Duck River, and Busseltown, stretch 65 miles alongside the Tennessee River. Since its establishment in 1945, the refuge has been manage...
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Conasauga River
Description: The Conasauga River Viewing Site in Cherokee National Forest is a place designated for wildlife viewing by snorkeling.

The headwaters of the Conasauga River flow down the steep, forested slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northwest Georgia. The cool, clean water descends into Tennessee, pauses in deep pools, drops through a number of small rapids, then passes back into Georgia, where it feeds into the Oostanaula River, which eventually empties into Mobile Bay as the Coosa River.

The Conasauga River is also a unique place that supports an outstanding diversity of aquatic life. There is at least one particular place where this can be witnessed by anyone with a mask and snorkel. Over 45 species of fish have been identified in this snorkel hole over the years, which is an area smaller than a football field. In addition to being able to witness the underwater activities of many aquatic species, visitors experience the beauty of the mountainous Cherokee National Forest surrounding them.

Wildlife to Watch: Brilliantly-colored fish including darters, minnows and bream are as close as your face-mask as you snorkel through the crystal clear waters of the Conasauga River in the Cherokee National Forest. The great variety, colors, and numbers of fish in the Conasauga River amaze even those who have snorkeled on marine coral reefs. At least 45 species of fish have been identified at the viewing site on the Cherokee National Forest.

Tiny, colorful Coosa darters are present. Schools of freshwater drum, some up to 10 pounds, swim within feet of you. Thousands of fish will be as close as your face mask. The experience is comparable to swimming in a freshwater aquarium.

Special Tips: Wet suits are recommended for all times to provide warmth, floatation and protection from rocks. Bring a snorkel and mask and wear old sneakers or “water shoes” with socks. Do not collect or disturb any of the animals or the river bottom by turning rocks – observe them without bothering them. Pack out any trash and food scraps from the area. This area is a remote part of the Forest.

Always snorkel with a partner and wear safety flotation gear. Be alert to hypothermia during cool weather. Be alert to lightning storms.

Ownership: USDA Forest Service, Cherokee NF, Ocoee Ranger District 
Size: N/A 
Closest Town: Cleveland, TN

RestroomsParkingFishingHikingPicnic tablesHorse TrailsSmall BoatsSwimmingCamp FireBicycling

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Conasauga Snorkeling - Photo by USDA Forest Service
Please use Map Link below

Driving Directions:
To get to the Conasauga River (about 1 hour from Cleveland, Tn.), travel east on US hwy 64 to US hwy 411. Turn south onto 411 and drive about 7 miles. Turn left onto TN road 313 (Ball Play/Willis Springs Rd) at the brown wildlife viewing sign. Travel 4 miles, then bear right onto gravel FS Road 221 (Peavine/Sheeds Creek Rd). After 4.7 miles, turn right into the parking area for the Conasauga River trail. A short trai leads from the parking lot to the Fish Viewing Site.

Map Link

Conasauga River : Wildlife Viewing Area