Trails to Tackle - Vol. 1

Catoosa WMA and Nemo Tunnel #24

Credit: Motortrend

Canon Sperrazza | Author | Jul 12 2021

You love off-roading – it’s in your blood. Your weekends revolve around dirt roads, mountain trails and getting as much mud and dirt on your vehicle as possible. There’s just one problem – you’ve hit all the trails near you, and need to find new roads to adventure. Well fear not, Southern Off-Road Specialists is here to help. Introducing the “Trails to Tackle” blog series. In these articles, we’ll take a look at trails across the Southeast that will excite off-roaders of all clades and experience levels. Throughout this series, we hope to shed light on new trails and reinvigorated your love for the off-road. In the first installment, we’ll look at the Catoosa WMA and the nearby Nemo Tunnel in Eastern Tennessee.

The Trail

The Catoosa Wildlife Management Area is an 82,000 acre tract of wild land in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee. Nestled upon the the Upper Cumberland Plateau, this chunk of wilderness offers everything from rolling hills to some of the most extreme, rugged terrain in the Southeast. The land is used by everyone from hunters and anglers, to hikers and horseback riders. However, there are plenty of gravel service roads and dirt trails designated specifically for motorized exploration. 

Just north of the WMA lies Nemo Tunnel #24, an abandon railway tunnel cut through the mountainside. At nearly a half-mile long, this tunnel is great for thrill seekers as it will leave you encapsulated in complete darkness before making your way through to the other side. One of several abandoned railway tunnels in the area, Nemo’s is the longest and by far the most popular.

Highlights

The Devil’s Breakfast Table

Located among the cliffs and along Daddy’s creek within the Catoosa WMA lies a notorious rock formation known as the Devil’s Breakfast Table. This natural wonder is the most well known in the sea of natural wonders that await those who enter the WMA. Though a bit tricky to find, the Devil’s Breakfast table can be found on Otter Creek Road 8.2 miles from the entrance at Peavine Road.

Nemo Bridge

Just off Catoosa Road, and easily navigated to from the Devil’s Breakfast Table area and leading directly to Nemo Tunnel #24, the Nemo bridge is another piece of history nestled in the plateau. This now abandoned railway bridge was constructed along with the Nemo tunnels, and is easy to get to by vehicle. This makes a great spot for photo ops, and will please any history buffs in your wheeling group.

Getting There

The Catoosa WMA is located in Morgan, Cumberland and Fentress counties, near the towns of Wartburg and Crossville TN. There are several ways to enter the WMA, which we’ll outline below.

Peavine Road Entrance: From I-40 in Crossville, TN, take exit 322 to Peavine Rd. Then, travel north on Peavine Rd for 1.8 miles and make a left onto Firetower Rd. Once on Firetower Rd, travel 2.8 miles to the end of pavement and continue 0.6 miles more to a gate (Google maps show the road as Otter Creek Rd). This is the entrance to Catoosa WMA. Follow the road 3.1 miles to the savanna restoration site. Travel 8.2 miles past the gate to the Devil’s Breakfast Table area (or 14.7 miles from turning onto Firetower Rd).

Genesis Road Entrance: From I-40 in Crossville, TN, take exit 320, Genesis Road, and travel north 8 miles to the entrance to Catoosa WMA. 

Wartburg Entrance: Take Catoosa Road from Wartburg, TN to Old Catoosa Campground, eight miles. 

Though a relatively well known trail, this WMA is a great destination for all off-road enthusiasts and a great excuse to visit the state of Tennessee. Stay tuned to the SORS blog for this continuing series on trails you need to explore as an off-road enthusiast. If your vehicle needs some work before your next trip off road, be sure to get in contact with the experts at Southern Off-Road Specialists – we can recommend you the right equipment for your vehicle and get you a proper price quote and order in your parts today. Until next time on Trails to Tackle.

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