Places We Protect

Orchard Bog and Quarry Bog

Tennessee

Golden grasses surround a still pond under a blue sky.
Orchard Bog Orchard Bog is a beautiful place to visit in the fall. © Byron Jorjorian

Globally rare wetland habitats more commonly seen in northern climates are tucked away in Tennessee mountains.

Overview

Description

Orchard Bog and Quarry Bog are globally rare remnants of a once vast system of peat wetlands more commonly witnessed in northern environments. After the retreat of the last glacial ice sheets, Tennessee's Shady Valley retained a handful of bogs, although in the mid-20th century, most of the wetlands were drained and converted for farming and grazing.

In addition to the loss of wetlands, the natural water flows of the valley were altered by the damming and channelization of Beaverdam Creek and many of its tributaries. The Nature Conservancy works to restore these habitats for the valley's rare plants and animals while promoting conservation-friendly agricultural practices on its property.

Access

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Year-round, Dawn to Dusk

Highlights

Alder Flycatcher (Empidonax alnorum) has been documented on the site, as well as unusual shorebirds during migration.

Explore our work in this region

Tall grasses surround a small pond.
Orchard Bog Orchard Bog is a unique wetland located in Tennessee's Shady Valley. © The Nature Conservancy/Gabby Lynch

Background

TNC purchased multiple tracts of land to assemble the 150-acre Orchard Bog Preserve from 1994 until 2017. Quarry Bog Preserve, which totals 68 acres, was acquired by TNC in 1998.

Both preserves serve as key sites for significant stream and wetland restoration projects focused on bringing back the valley’s natural flow of water, reducing soil erosion and expanding habitat for native wetland habitats and species. 

Visit

  • What You'll See

    Cows At Orchard Bog Preserve, cows help out with conservation grazing by eating invasive reed canary grass to make room for native wetland plants. The herd is small and seasonal, which prevents excessive trampling and over-grazing.. 

    Flying Friends The uncommon alder flycatcher (Empidonax alnorum) and other songbirds and shorebirds have been documented in the area during spring and fall migrations. Check out the eBird app to see which bird species local birders are documenting on the preserves, and then add to your own sightings!

    Cranberries In Shady Valley, wild cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) grows on a layer of sphagnum moss, which acts to keep the pH of the soil low and holds water even on the driest and hottest days. 

    Rare Native Plants Tawny cottongrass (Eriophorum virginicum), hoary sedge (Carex canescens) and Nuttall's pondweed (Potamogeton epihydrus) have been found in the bog’s ecosystem. In 2016, Appalachian hedge-nettle (Stachys appalachiana) was identified at Orchard Bog—the first record of this rare plant in Tennessee.

  • Peak Use

    Fall Shady Valley hosts an annual cranberry festival. (Visit local websites for more information.) In mid- to late October, you will see the fall foliage reach its peak!

    Winter If you’re searching for a winter wonderland, visit the preserve in January and February.

    Spring Temperatures stay cool and rainy in the spring months. If you’re looking for a cool getaway, head over to the valley.

  • Preserve Guidelines
    • The preserve is open to the public, from sunrise to sunset. 
    • There are multiple, mowed paths of various lengths leading in and around the wetlands. Look for beaver lodges and dams. 
    • Visitors should stop by our TNC Shady Valley office (10537 Highway 421 N, Shady Valley, TN 37688) for an updated Orchard Bog trail map and information about a self-guided tour. 
    • Due to the presence of a delicate natural area, the following activities are prohibited: motorized vehicles (ATVs), horses, bicycles, collecting plants and animals, hunting, camping and rock climbing.
    • Check the local weather forecast and dress accordingly. Don't forget a hat and drinking water, and light-colored and light-weight clothing is suggested during warm weather. Insect repellent, binoculars and birdwatching field guide(s) are also worth bringing. This is an excellent site for birdwatching. Dogs are allowed on leash.
    • Note that, depending on the time of year, cattle might be grazing at one or both of the preserves. Cows are curious and might approach you. Do not leave open any livestock gates on the property.
  • Cranberry Festival

    Shady Valley hosts an annual cranberry festival in mid- to late October when fall foliage reaches its peak! Stop by TNC's Shady Valley Office at 10537 Highway 421 N, Shady Valley, TN 37688 to get map for a self-guided walking tour of our Orchard Bog Preserve.

Orchard Bog and Quarry Bog

This mosaic of unique habitats is worth exploring no matter the season.

A large white animal lays in the grass.
Small pink flowers emerge from long, green, leafy stems.
Ripe red berries hang from green branches.
Green grases and bushes surround a quiet stream.
A sign marks the location of Orchard Bog Preserve.
A meadow surrounds a green grassy path created by a mower.
Tall grasses and thick vegetation surround a small pond.
A grass path surrounds a thick carpet of moss.
Golden grasses surround a clear pond.
Bunches of tall grasses emerge from a shallow wetland.

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