Site Directions: On I-75, take exit number 25 in Cleveland, Tennessee. Travel north on Highway 60 through the town of Birchwood. Approximately 1.7 miles north of Birchwood, turn right on Shadden Road. Go one mile and turn right on Blythe Ferry Road. Take the next left on Priddy Lane and follow signs.
Hiwassee Observation Platform - Lat-Long: 35.399978, -84.989953
Hours: day light hours
Seasonality: The refuge is closed from November 15 to the last day in February; however the Observation Platform is open year-round.
Meigs/Rhea counties • 2,500 acres
The refuge is closed to all forms of use and trespass from Nov. 15 through the last day of Feb., except the wildlife viewing area is open year-round. During refuge closure, public entry and fishing is permitted while on the main river channel passing through the refuge.
Bobcat may be taken on any scheduled big game or small game hunt that coincides with the statewide bobcat season with hunting implements legal for that scheduled hunt.
Beaver and coyotes may be taken on any hunt with weapons legal for that hunt.
Season open on groundhog, fox, and skunk during any scheduled small game hunt. All seasons are closed during refuge closure date unless otherwise indicated. A nontoxic shot approved by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is required for small game hunting. Small game hunting and dog training is closed at sunset on the day before and during scheduled big game hunts unless a special exception is indicated.
Dove Sept. 1 & 14, 2023. Noon to sunset only. No access is permitted by boat.
Dove (Youth) - Sept. 9, 2023. Noon to sunset only. No access is permitted by boat.
Squirrel - Same as statewide seasons except as noted.
Rabbit - Oct. 30 - Nov. 14., 2023 Bag limit of three per day.
Opossum, Raccoon - Sept. 5 - Nov. 8., 2023. Hunting will be limited to Tuesday and Wednesday nights only.
Canada Goose - Sept. 1-15, 2023 No goose hunters are permitted on the refuge from two hours after shooting hours have ended until 4 a.m. the following day.
Wood Duck, Teal - Same as the Sept. Wood Duck/Teal season. No duck hunters are permitted on the refuge from two hours after shooting hours have ended until 4 a.m. the following day.
Deer (Shotgun – Muzzleloader)(Young Sportsman) One hunt: Sept. 16 - 17., 2023. Hunter quota 200. Two deer, no more than one antlered (bonus deer).
Deer (Archery) - One hunt: Sept. 23 - 25., 2023. Hunter quota 200. Two deer no more than one antlered, one bearded turkey (bonus deer).
Deer (Archery) - One hunt: Oct. 6 - 8, 2023. Two deer, no more than one antlered, one bearded turkey (bonus deer).
Deer (Muzzleloader) - One hunt: Oct. 20 - 22., 2023. Hunter quota 150. Two deer, no more than one antlered (bonus deer).
Deer (Muzzleloader) - One hunt: Oct. 27 - 29., 2023. Hunter quota 150. Two deer, no more than one antlered (bonus deer).
Turkey Same as the statewide spring turkey season.
Dog training = Sept. 1, 2023 - March 15, 2024, daylight hours only. Closed to training during refuge closure dates.
Retriever Dog Field Trials - Pre-approved by Area Manager at least 30 days in advance of trial dates.
Camping - During deer hunts only at the check station.
Site Description: The Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge is 6,000 acres (2,500 acres land and 3,500 acres water [Hiwassee River]) located on Chickamauga Lake at the confluence of the Hiwassee River with the Tennessee River.
Beginning at Hwy 60 (over the Tennessee River, about river mile 499.5), the refuge stretches to around river mile 505 at Armstrong Bend and from the mouth of the Hiwassee River upstream to Hwy 58 at Agency Creek (about river mile 7.4). Included is Hiwassee Island (400 acres).
Of the land area, approximately 30% (750 acres) is agricultural land that is cropped. Crops grown include corn, wheat, soybeans, milo, varieties of millet, and buckwheat.
Most of the refuge is farmed by TWRA personnel. The remaining 70% of the land area (1,750 acres) is a wooded mix, mainly of pine and hardwood forest. A wildlife Observation Platform is open year-round to visitors.
Wildlife to Watch: Hiwassee Refuge has the largest winter flock of Sandhill Cranes in the southeast United States outside of Florida. From the Observation Platform, visitors can view Sandhill Cranes and an occasional endangered Whooping Crane from November through February. Peak numbers of cranes occur in January.
Waterfowl numbers are good for the area of the state with birds visible on the lake below the Observation Platform and on the river in the distance (often only really seen as flybys). Mallard, Gadwall, and Northern Shoveler are the most common ducks, but Canvasback, Ring-necked Duck, among others are found. Bonaparte's Gull and Ring-billed Gull are common in winter.
Great Blue Heron numbers are substantial in winter. Bald Eagle numbers in winter rank among the top five in the state with many often seen from the observation area in winter. A couple pairs of Bald Eagles nest in Hiwassee Refuge. Golden Eagles are rare, but seen annually at Hiwassee Refuge. Osprey are common to abundant from March through September.
In December 2011 - January 2012, a Hooded Crane was present and viewed by several thousand birders from across the entire United States. The Hooded Crane disappeared in late January and 3 days later a Hooded Crane was found with Sandhill Cranes in Indiana.
Region 3 Office: 931-484-9571
E-mail the office
Area Manager: Jason Jackson (423) 614-3018