The walking trail at Freedom Hills Wildlife Management Area (Site #13, Northwest Loop) is one of numerous gravel and dirt hunter access roads on the 34,500 acre WMA, which leads visitors into a variety of productive habitats ranging from old fields to mature hardwood forest. These habitats are interspersed with wildlife openings planted for deer, turkey, and other game species. Search the scrubby fields for Yellow-breasted Chats and Indigo Buntings, which can be heard much more easily than they can be seen. In the forest, listen for the insect-like buzzes and croaks of Northern Parulas and Yellow-billed Cuckoos. A nocturnal visit should turn up Chuck-will’s-widows as well as Barred Owls and Eastern Screech-Owls.
Just down the road lies the famous Key Underwood Memorial Coon Dog Cemetery. These hallowed grounds have become the final resting place for raccoon hunting dogs from all across the South. Stop by and pay your respects to these great hounds and admire the creative tombstones raised to remember them. The grounds of the cemetery are also a good spot to listen for Summer Tanagers and Yellow-billed Cuckoos, joined in migration by a variety of vireos and warblers.
Directions: From Cherokee, AL, at the junction of US Highway 72 and Natchez Trace Parkway, go east on Highway 72 for 2.4 miles to CR 21/White Pike Road. Turn right onto White Pike Road and head south 8.5 miles into the Freedom Hills Wildlife Management Area to the site marker. Continue on CR 21 for another 2.5 miles to visit the famous Coon Dog Cemetery.
GPS: N 34.6480, W 87.9902
Amenities: Parking, Hiking
ADCNR: Area Biologist
4200 White Pike
Cherokee, AL 35616