The Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1945 as a result of the impoundment of the Tennessee River to create Kentucky Lake in order to provide for wildlife and waterfowl habitat along the shoreline.
The 21,348-acre Big Sandy Unit occupies the large peninsula between the Big Sandy and Tennessee rivers and shoreline on the western side. The area is managed for wildlife habitat through forest and wet-soil wetland management and agricultural production for wildlife enhancement. The area is popular with hunters, fishers, birdwatchers and other wildlife enthusiasts. Developed areas include an information kiosk at the entrance to the peninsula section, the Bennetts Creek Overlook, the Chickasaw National Recreational Trail, and several boat ramps. Portions of the unit are closed November 16 to March 15 to protect overwintering waterfowl.
On the western side of Kentucky Lake, this section of Big Sandy Unit includes an Administration Building and Visitor Contact station that are both especially popular with birders and wildlife enthusiasts. Britton Ford Road provides access to a driving tour of the Britton Ford Peninsula and access to the popular Britton Ford Hiking Trail. Also nearby is the V.L. Childs Observation Deck, providing panoramic views of the refuge and Tennessee River.
The 7,000-acre Big Sandy Peninsula, situated between the Big Sandy and Tennessee Rivers, is an unique area providing habitat for wintering waterfowl, nesting songbirds, migratory shorebirds and many other wildlife species including bald eagles. Pace Point, on the peninsula's tip, is considered one of the top 10 birding locations in the state. While you're here, visit historic Mt. Zion Church, check out the view from Bennett's Creek Observation Deck and hike the 1.2 mile interpreted Chickasaw National Recreation Trail.
Located five miles south of New Johnsonville, Tennessee off Hwy 70S is where the Duck River meets the Tennessee River and is affectionately called the "Big Bottom." These bottomlands are some of the most fertile lands in the nation, and today home to thousands of wintering waterfowl, hawks, bald eagles, shorebirds and egrets. The area has an extensive system of refuge roads to view wildlife, and there is an info kiosk at the entrance. Visit the Pintail Point Observation Deck for excellent photo opportunities. This area is open year-round with some roads closed November 15 through March 16.
The Duck River Bottoms Scenic Overlook, located 7 miles southeast of Camden along Hwy 191 (Birdsong Road) and North Eagle Creek Road, encompasses stunning viewsheds at the mile-wide confluence of the Tennessee and Duck Rivers. Take a short hike on the .25-mile trail to see the river delta, including the unbelievable underwater species diversity, as more riverine species exist in the Duck River than in all of the rivers of Europe combined.
The 3,272-acre Busselltown Unit of the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge encom-passes about four miles of shoreline on the west side of the Tennessee River, and another three miles or so on either side of the Cub Creek embayment. The area is managed for wildlife and waterfowl habitat. About 700 acres of the unit is row cropland managed under a farm cooperative program. The farmer takes his or her share, and the refuge share is generally left for wildlife. The unit also contains areas of bottomland forest and wetland areas. This is an excellent location for bird-watching and wildlife viewing. An information kiosk is located at the unit entrance, and there is a boat ramp near on the river. The unit is closed from November 1 to March 15 for waterfowl habitat.
The Headquarters/Visitor Center is open 8 am - 4 pm Monday through Saturday and closed on all Federal holidays. The Britton Ford Hiking Trail is open March 16-Nov. 14. The V.L. Childs Observation Deck is open year-round.
How to Get There
Turn east on U.S. 412 and go 2.7 miles to Mousetail Road; turn left and go 3.9 miles to the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge.