Meeman-Shelby Forest Class II Natural-Scientific State Natural Area


Meeman-Shelby Forest State Natural Area is an 11,000-acre natural area in Shelby County and is located within Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park. Primary management responsibility belongs to Tennessee State Parks. There is also a Wildlife Management Area within the State Park that is managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency. Meeman-Shelby Forest State Natural Area is one of the largest contiguous tracts of mature bottomland hardwood forest and upland forest associated with the Chickasaw Bluff left in Tennessee. The natural area includes approximately 7,000 acres of Mississippi Alluvial Plain and approximately 4,000 acres of Chickasaw Bluff.

The bottomlands change from cypress dominated sloughs and bayous to bottomland hardwood with a few feet of topographic relief. Cypress sloughs are dominated by bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) and southern hackberry (Celtis laevigata) with an understory of black willow (Salix nigra), green ash (Fraxinus pensylvanica), and water elm (Planera aquatica). Bottomland hardwoods are dominated by cottonwoods (Populus deltoids), sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), and southern hackberry. East of the vast bottomlands, the Third Chickasaw Bluff rises abruptly from the floodplain. The bluff vegetation is variable according to slope aspect but is characterized by sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), white and red oaks (Quercus sp.), and beech (Fagus grandifolia) with a distinctive understory of red buckeye (Aesculus pavia).

Meeman-Shelby Forest is particularly significant because so much of west Tennessee’s rivers and streams have been seriously altered, resulting in a loss of vast bottomland hardwood forests that were once prevalent. This large natural area provides a refuge for many populations of state-listed rare species within the park and natural area including American featherfoil (Hottonia inflata), bay starvine (Schisandra glabra), copper iris (Iris fulva), and cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia). The federally endangered interior least tern has been recorded in the bottomlands here. The natural area is also home to eleven state champion trees, the largest of their species in Tennessee. View more information about Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park.

Site Management

Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, 910 Riddick Rd., Millington, TN 38053, phone (901) 876-5201. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Shelby Forest Wildlife Management Area, 200 Lowell Thomas Drive, Jackson TN 38301, phone (731) 423-5725. Division of Natural Areas, Jackson Field Office, 1625 Hollywood Drive, Jackson TN 38305, phone (731) 512-1369. Division of Natural Areas, William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower, 312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 2nd Floor, Nashville TN, 37243, phone (615) 532-0431.

Public Access

Open to the Public - Full Access
The state park and wildlife management area provide parking, access roads, and trials. The area is open to hiking, boating, fishing, and hunting. For hunting information please contact the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Parking: Yes
Trail: Yes
Dogs on Leash: Yes
Hunting: Yes
Fishing: Yes
Camping: No


Head west on I-40 into Memphis to exit 2A. From the exit, turn right and go 6 stop-lights to Watkins road (Hwy 388). Turn left on Watkins and follow until dead end. Turn left, go 1 mile to 4-way stop. Turn right, go 1 mile, park entrance is on the left.

Details & Map

  • Map to Meeman-Shelby Forest
  • Owned by the State of Tennessee
  • Locke & Pecan Pointe 7.5-minute quadrangles
  • Mississippi Alluvial Floodplain Physiographic Province
  • Designated in 2002