The 80,000 acre Catoosa Wildlife Management Area in Cumberland County features rolling hills, oak savannas, and winding creeks full of natural beauty.
The cliffs along the body of water known as Daddy's Creek are particularly striking as it flows towards the Obed River. In the cold months when the lush foliage of the Plateau is dead and gone, Mother Nature reveals a clear view of a specific rock along the cliffs that has been known for centuries as the Devil's Breakfast Table.
"With the Devil's Breakfast Table, we've got this rock precariously pointed on top of another rock up on a cliff. It is just so unusual to see this type of rock formation in Tennessee like the Devil's Breakfast Table," said Dan Hicks, spokesperson for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. "In the summer you have to really look for it because the leaves on the trees around the rock make it difficult to see."
The large dangling slate earned its moniker in the early 1800's when settlers moved into this area of the Plateau.
"The Devil's Breakfast Table looks like it would fall at any time, but it has been there ever since those first settlers came in," said Clarence Coffey, retired TWRA wildlife officer. "The story from historical societies is that one of the first settlers said, 'Only the Devil would eat breakfast on a table like that.' The name stuck and it has been known as The Devil's Breakfast Table ever since."
The unique rock structure has attracted visitors to the state-owned Catoosa Wildlife Management Area for decades. Another equally attractive draw for visitors is found in the treacherous rapids below the Devil's Breakfast Table.
"When the spring rains come, the water gets a lot higher in Daddy's Creek. We have Class 5 rapids along this area and people come from all over the country to kayak or canoe through here," said Hicks. "Sometimes we hold big game hunts in the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area and the only people who are allowed in this area are people with hunting passes. We'll end up giving out 100 or more tickets to people who don't know about the hunt and kayak through here during the event."
One of the devilish tricks when it comes to visiting the Devil's Breakfast Table is the timing of when the Catoosa area is open.
"We close Catoosa during the winter months to give the wildlife a break from human activity. For instance, right now in February, nobody is allowed in here. So people can't see the Devil's Breakfast Table during a few of the months when it is most visible." Hicks added, "You can still see it late in the fall and the early spring. This area reopens on April 1 of this year."
TWRA officials recommend visitors call their Region III office at 1-800-262-6704 before making the trip to ensure the Catoosa area is open and not restricted for big game hunts. When visitors are able to enjoy the great outdoors where the Devil dines, many say the area's natural beauty is heaven sent.
"We've got beautiful streams that flow through here," said Hicks. "The scenery in some of the gorges is remarkable when you float down Daddy's Creek into the Obed River. You will have these huge rock overhangs on both sides of the creek. You feel like you are on another planet almost. It is really unique."
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