Stones River National Battlefield
From Nashville (Interstate 24 East) - Take Exit 76 and turn left onto Medical Center Parkway. Turn left onto Thompson Lane and travel 0.7 miles to a grand entrance to the park or continue past this entrance for 0.3 miles and turn right before you cross the large bridge. At the stop sign at the bottom of the slight hill, turn left and follow Old Nashville Hwy to the main entrance of the park and the Visitor's Center. The short Auto Tour ends at the Visitor's Center.
From Chattanooga (Interstate 24 West) - Take Exit 76 and turn right onto Medical Center Parkway. Follow above directions from Medical Center Parkway.
Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
Visitor's Center: 35.880505, -86.434808
Entrance off Thomson Lane: 35.867891, -86.427902
Hours: 9am-5pm daily, check NP web site to confirm hours
Seasonality: year round
Site Description: This park has a variety of historic markers and tour stops to learn about the history of the battle that took place at the site. The driving loop has been reduced to a short route, but it travels through old field habitat with native grass and shrub cover, and mixed cedar-hardwood forests. Cedar glades are a rare habitat found only in middle Tennessee. There are several small glades at the battlefield, but they are off limits to foot traffic. Please obey signs about closed areas.
A tornado went through the park in spring 2009, causing extensive damage to the cedar forests in places, however this opened up dense unmanaged forest that was poor habitat for any wildlife and created nice early successional shrubby habitat. This area is being taken over by Chinese Privet and will only be decent habitat for so long without management. A new trail runs alongside the edge of the damaged area. Trails on the Battlefield connect with the Stones River Greenway, which is over 12 miles in length including the spur trails. The Greenway can also be an excellent place to walk and see wildlife. A parking area for the Greenway is just one mile or so south of the Battlefield entrance.
Wildlife to Watch: Early successional birds such as Common Yellowthroat and Indigo Bunting are common in spring and summer. Deer are seen regularly in addition to resident Red-tailed Hawks. Wild Turkey may be seen in flocks of 20 birds. In spring migration, look for passerines in the mature forest on the trail at Tour Stop 2. Blackburnian Warbler, American Redstart among others may be found here. Northern Bobwhite also are occasionally seen along the wood edges and in the fields. In winter, the grassy fields support Song and Field Sparrows. Great Horned Owls are nesting residents and may be heard calling near Tour Stop 2 (January 2010).
From Thompson Lane entrance, the first tiny parking lot is your only parking on this side of the park, but is the access to the mature hardwoods on the park. From the small lot on your left at an intersection with and old road that's closed off, walk the road to the area where there are barriers. This blocked off area is the old Auto Tour and the road goes through nice forest that is often quite birdy in spring and fall. Additional trails in the area go into the mature woods.
Driving the park road, park at the next parking lot where the woods end and open into fields. There is a new mulch trail along the edge of the fields and woods, which is where the tornado created some fantastic habitat. Explore this area in all directions on foot.
Birding from around the Visitor's Center can be modest. There's a trail into the forest across the parking lot from the Visitor's Center.
The old 2 mile Auto Tour road can be walked or biked. Take snacks and water if you choose to walk the entire road. There is also a hiking trail that loops around the entire park.
For more information:
Stones River National Battlefield
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