North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area
Two major habitat types are found at the 146,000 acre North Cumberland WMA. Mature hardwood forests cover approximately 75% of the landscape, while timber harvest, strip mining, and gas well development have provided extensive clearing and early successional habitat. The Sundquist Unit is approximately 70,000 acres and home to a diverse array of habitats and wildlife. It is the site of an Elk Reintroduction program. The best place to view elk within this region is at the Hatfield Knob Elk Viewing Tower. In addition to the elk, the trip is worth the time because it is also an ideal spot for birdwatching, wildflowers and butterflies. Be sure to look for early successional bird species along the road leading to the Elk Viewing Tower. Notes: During daylight hours in deer gun and muzzleloader seasons, all users outside of an enclosed vehicle or outside of camp must wear, on the upper portion of their body and head, a minimum of 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange, visible front and back. Visitors to the tower are reminded to remain quiet while viewing the elk to avoid startling the animals.
Reintroduced elk are found across the area, but the Hatfield Knob viewing area is the best place to see elk. Many Neotropical migratory songbirds nest in the area, including Wood Thrush, Scarlet Tanager, Ovenbird, Black-throated Green Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, among many other species. Brown-headed Cowbirds are becoming more common in the area with increased forest disturbance and clearing.
Cerulean Warbler and Golden-winged Warbler are found across North Cumberland WMA. Cerulean Warblers occur in mature forest and breed in the highest density anywhere within their breeding range. Golden-winged Warblers nest on early successional strip mines with grass and black locust cover. Ruffed Grouse can be found across the area, primarily in areas of dense understory.
To Royal Blue Unit: Take I-75 to exit 141. Go west on Hwy. 63 approx. one mile. Turn left onto Titus Hollow road. Area approximately ½ mile.
To Sundquist Unit at Hatfield Knob: Go north out of Lafollette on Highway 25W approximately seven miles to the top of the mountain. Turn left at the red gate located at the top of the mountain (just before the road starts to break over the mountain and go down the back side.) Proceed on the gravel road approximately 3.1 miles to a fork in the road. Take the right fork approximately 1.4 miles to the parking area.
Best Months and Seasons for Viewing
September and early October are the best times to see and hear the bugling of elk during their rut (mating). Spring migration for Neotropical birds peaks in April and May.
Best Time for Viewing
Early morning for birds and elk. Late evenings can also be good times to see elk.