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Exploring North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area: Royal Blue, Tackett Creek, Sundquist & New River Units.

Twenty years ago, we discovered this amazing park while searching for ATV trails in the mountains. Some refer to the area as "Royal Blue" or "Tackett Creek" but those are just two of the trail systems found within the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area (NCWMA). Back then, there weren't many resources available to showcase the full extent of this expansive park. In this post, we aim to provide you with a comprehensive overview and highlight all the unique aspects that make this place truly extraordinary.


The North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area (NCWMA) in Tennessee is an extensive and diverse area covering almost 200,000 acres across five East Tennessee counties: Morgan, Scott, Anderson, Campbell, and Claiborne. The management area is divided into four units: the New River Unit, the Royal Blue Unit, the Sundquist Unit, and the Ed Carter Unit.


The Cumberland Mountains provide a habitat for various terrestrial and aquatic wildlife species. Some notable wildlife in the area includes the majestic elk (re-introduced in the early 2000s), Black bear, White-tailed deer, Eastern Wild Turkey, Bobcat, Coyote, Raccoon, Timber Rattlesnake, Green Salamander, and a variety of bird species such as Cerulean Warbler, Golden-Winged Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, among others. The streams are home to diverse fish and aquatic species.


One of the highlights is the presence of elk, which can be observed from the Elk Viewing Tower in the Sundquist Unit or through the Elk Viewing Camera. The Hatfield Knob viewing area is recommended for the best elk sightings. You can read more about the Hatfield Knob Elk Viewing Tower at https://tnwf.org/elk-viewing-tower/


Hatfield Knob Elk Viewing Station

Recreational activities in NCWMA include hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, camping, Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) trails, hiking, sightseeing, and a shooting range. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has announced additional management for OHV use in the area, including new trails, safety regulations, and improved digital mapping.


 

OHV/ATV Trail Systems


Cabin at Tackett Creek

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) manages the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area with 600+ miles of OHV/ATV trails. TWRA is committed to balancing recreational enjoyment with environmental sustainability. Maintaining and repairing the trail system is crucial for ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for riders, while the emphasis on environmental soundness indicates a responsible approach to conservation.


Creating trails that are both challenging and fun allows the area to cater to a diverse range of riders with varying skill levels. Striking the right balance ensures that experienced riders can enjoy a thrilling experience while beginners can also explore the trails with confidence.


TWRA works to foster a positive relationship between outdoor recreation and conservation. This includes ongoing trail maintenance, implementing sustainable practices, and promoting responsible use of the area to minimize the impact on the environment. The units included in the NCWMA are shown on the map below and there are ATV/OHV trails found throughout each area. There is a paper map (also shown below) for the Sundquist Unit and each trail within this unit is marked. Royal Blue, New River, and Tackett Creek require GPS mapping systems as they are not found on any paper map and are NOT marked on the property. Trails are open 24 hours a day.


NCWMA Map Showing All Units

NCWMA Map 4 Units


Sundquist Unit Paper Map Copy

Sundquist Unit Trail Map

Rules for All Units

-Visitors are reminded to stay on designated trails, and cutting new trails or off-trail riding is prohibited.

-Alcohol use is restricted to designated locations, such as Agency-maintained campgrounds. DUI laws apply on state-managed trails and public roads.

-Children under 18 are required to wear a helmet while riding.

-A valid permit is also required for OHV use on the WMA.


For more information on licensing and regulations, visitors can refer to the TWRA website at tn.gov or visit our Permits page.

There are additional resources such as PDF maps and links to TWRA resources on our Resources/FAQ page.


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