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Tennessee

John R. Dickey Birch Branch Sanctuary




Open to the Public

Yes

Things To Do

Hiking, Fishing, Wildlife Viewing, Rock Hopping in Birch Branch View All

Plan Your Visit

Be prepared for cooler temperatures. Dress appropriately. View All

Get Directions

The John R. Dickey Birch Branch Sanctuary is an ideal site to visit during any time of year. The rhododendron thickets bloom in late June, and other flowering plants begin to bloom early in the spring and last through the fall. Sightings of larger wildlife such as black bear, deer, and turkey are common.

Location
Shady Valley, Johnson County

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
The 452-acre sanctuary was donated to the Tennessee chapter in December 1996 by Marie Dickey Kalman. The land was originally purchased by Mrs. Kalman’s grandfather, Dr. John R. Dickey, with the purpose of protecting what he believed was "one of the prettiest places on earth." The Conservancy later purchased an additional 17 acres to secure a ridge over Birch Branch, enlarging the site to 469 total acres.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
The Nature Conservancy is restoring native warm-season grasses to the preserve's old farm fields. These native warm-season grasses provide superior nutrition and excellent habitat for songbirds, game birds, and butterflies. The Nature Conservancy has restored more than 20 acres of farm fields to native warm-season grasses at the preserve. Prescribed ecological burns are a part of the restoration and maintenance process. The Bristol Bird Club also does annual bird counts on the property.

View a slide show of a controlled burn on the John R. Dickey Birch Branch Sanctuary to improve and protect its native grass habitat.

Hours
Open year-round, dawn to dusk by appointment. Call our Shady Valley office: 423-739-2537.

Conditions
This sanctuary is located at Tennessee's easternmost point, Shady Valley, in the mountains just northeast of town. Within the preserve are steep and verdant hillsides, rocky streams, and rolling fields. It is surrounded on all sides by the Cherokee National Forest and conservation easement lands.

What to See
Aside from natural beauty, the John R. Dickey Birch Branch Sanctuary possesses great native biodiversity. Ideal habitat for myriad plant, invertebrate, and mammal species exists throughout the forested hillsides, along the banks of Birch Branch and Beaverdam Creek, and among the open fields. A sphagnum-covered bog at an outlet above the old farmhouse is the rarest habitat found on the preserve.

Also on the property, a shale cliff formed by Beaverdam Creek harbors numerous rare plant and animal species. In addition, rhododendron thickets throughout the sanctuary provide habitat for songbirds, such as the rare Swainson’s warbler. Other areas of interest include Beaverdam Creek and its tributary streams, which are abundant in native brook trout.

There are 4 trails on the sanctuary that range in difficulty from moderate to strenuous. There is good fishing in Beaverdam Creek.

You will need to make arrangements with our staff before visiting this preserve. Call our Shady Valley office: 423-739-2537.

Directions

From Nashville or Knoxville, TN

  • Travel east on Interstate 40 to Interstate 81 east to Bristol, TN
    From Bristol, TN
  • Follow Highway 421 South through town and 18 miles south to Shady Valley. The Conservancy office is located at 10537 Highway 421 South. Stop here to make arrangements for your vist to this gated preserve.
Discussion

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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