The Caney Fork watershed is drained by the Cumberland’s longest tributary, the Caney Fork River. This 143-mile river was named for the cane breaks Europeans discovered along its banks when first exploring the area. Center Hill Lake, another large Army Corps reservoir, was created following the construction of Center Hill Dam on the Caney Fork in 1948. At 1,800 square miles, the river’s watershed is large and geographically diverse.
Edgar Evins, Burgess Falls, Rock Island, and Fall Creek Falls state parks are all within the watershed, and Short Mountain, Bone Cave, and Virgin Falls state natural areas are here as well. Awe-inspiring Scott’s Gulf, a deep canyon carved by the force of the Caney Fork, is home to both the Virgin Falls Pocket Wilderness and the 10,000 acres Bridgestone/Firestone Centennial Wilderness Area.
Among the many plant and animal species found in the watershed, channel catfish lay eggs in muskrat burrows and snaketail dragonflies zigzag above the riffles of gravelly streambeds. In the spring, yellow trout lilies can be found blossoming along riverbanks in the company of beech trees.