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Blythe Ferry, Sandhill Cranes, Bluff/Falls Hike

December 4 @ 10:30 am - December 5 @ 2:00 pm

This event is currently full, please register and we’ll let you know if an opening becomes available!

Join Eco-A and Quentin Bass, Archaeologist, Heritage Manager and Tribal Liaison for the Cherokee National Forest, on a day-long visit to a special area near the intersection of the Tennessee and Hiwassee Rivers, with an optional next day hike in Tennessee’s South Cumberland State Park.

The Tennessee-Hiwassee river confluence was a Native American center for thousands of years, and was an important hub for interstate transportation and commerce (which focused on major rivers before trains and automobiles). It was also, therefore, critical as a strategic military location. It became a guarded boundary between the United States and the Cherokee Nation, and by the late 1830’s it became the major point of departure for the Cherokee people who were forced to leave their homelands on what became known as the “Trail of Tears.” Quentin Bass will share stories of the people and times, including about Sam Houston, who lived early on with the Cherokee at Hiwassee Island, across from our meeting location.

Today, this area still serves as a critical travel hub and primary gathering location for — thousands of Sandhill Cranes! The Eastern North American band of Sandhills that nest and summer near the Great Lakes and in southern Canada, fly south to the Hiwassee and often further, flying directly over the City of Atlanta, to winter in south Georgia and northern Florida. However, since 2014, a great many of the Sandhills are now staying through the winter at the Hiwassee Refuge site, possibly as a response to global warming. Sandhill Cranes are ancient birds who have likely been migrating north and south annually on the North American continent for 10 million years, long before humans emerged from African savannahs. If you’ve ever heard the Cranes’ mellifluous, haunting call, you know there is no other sound like it. The air for miles is filled with this magical sound, simply being present to hear it, is worth the visit. There are many birds found along the rivers, including sea gulls, cormorants, and even white pelicans.

On Saturday we’ll tour the Blythe Ferry Memorial site, then we’ll spend time watching the cranes, and possibly visit another nearby historic site if we have time.  On Sunday, we’ll host an optional hike in South Cumberland State Park, which contains numerous waterfalls and scenic bluff trails. 

Quentin Bass at Trail of Tears Memorial at Bythe Ferry

$35 Sat only, $45 Sat & Sun 

Note: It’s about 2.5 hours drive from Atlanta, for those wishing to stay overnight nearby, we recommend accommodations near north Chattanooga or Dayton, TN. 

To register (RSVP) click HERE  – Details and directions sent to registered participants.  Limit 15.         

A donation of $15 or more helps support our programs.



December 4 @ 10:30 am
December 5 @ 2:00 pm