General Email Address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Research Application Contact Info
See the Research Guidelines page for information about applying for a research permit.
Snail mail:
Southeastern Cave Conservancy
PO Box 250
Signal Mountain TN 37377
Phone: 423.771.9671
Check out our Facebook  pages to connect with the SCCi and our supporters!
Wolf River Cave Bob Biddix
Wolf River Cave, photo courtesy of Bob Biddix

Wolf River Cave Wolf River Cave is more than eight miles long and is one of the most significant caves in North America in terms of its biology, anthropology, archeology and zoology. Many areas of the cave contain cultural resources or pristine formations and it's very important that you stay on established trails!
Southeastern Cave Conservancy Inc., in partnership with The Nature Conservancy , Tennessee Chapter (TNC) and Bat Conservation International (BCI), purchased Wolf River Cave and 33 acres of surrounding karst land near Jamestown in Fentress County Tennessee. The cave and surrounding property were part of a family farm that was sold at auction on July 20, 2002.
The cave also contains Tennessee's second-largest hibernation colony of the rarest endangered bat species in the Southeast - the Indiana bat. According to a survey conducted by Tennessee Technological University, the winter colony numbers between 2,400 and 2,500 bats. One of the first species to be placed on the federal endangered species list, Indiana bats hibernate in caves from September through early April. The cave is also known to house a small number of federally listed endangered gray bats in the summer, as well as a few Rafinesque's Big-Eared Bats. In addition, explorers have reported observing blind crayfish and cave beetles.
Wolf River Cave Bob Biddix
Wolf River Cave, photo courtesy of Bob Biddix

The Nature Conservancy , Tennessee Chapter and SCCi operate under a Memorandum of Understanding for joint projects involving caves and cave protection in Tennessee.  Along with its other goals and objectives, the ability to act quickly and in concert to purchase caves in immediate danger is one reason the MOU was implemented.  In a land auction participants often have little time to prepare and prices can soar above appraised values.  This important acquisition would not have taken place without the financial assistance of TNC and Bat Conservation International.  Gabby Call, Director of Protection for TNC's Tennessee Chapter, and Jim Kennedy, Assistant Director of BCI's North American Bat Conservation Partnership, were instrumental in securing the necessary financial support and in forging a successful partnership among the three organizations.
Preserve Information:
Acreage: 32.86 acres in Fentress County, Tennessee
Preserve Management Team: Wolf River Cave Preserve Management Committee (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Access: Permit required permits.scci.org (Closed September 1 - April 30)
Preserve Map: Wolf River map
 
Valhalla Cave Preserve Alabama
With its beautiful 227-foot entrance pitch and over a mile of cave at the bottom, Valhalla is one of the finest pit caves in the southeastern United States.
SCCi has established a good working relationship with the surrounding landowners and the hunting clubs that lease much of their property, and have obtained permission to cross their lands and to place an SCCi lock on the gate at the beginning of the road. Cooperation and respect for our neighbors is critical.
In the interest of maintaining good relations with our neighbors, visitation is minimal during deer and turkey hunting seasons.
NOTICE: To help prevent the spread of the deadly White Nose Syndrome (WNS) affecting bat populations, please read the SCCi Cave Visitation Policy and follow the guidelines before visiting Valhalla.
Preserve Information:

Acreage: 145.0 acres in Jackson County, Alabama
Preserve Management Team: Buddy Lane, Bill Putnam and Patrick Wilson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Access:To request a permit, visit http://permits.scci.org

Preserve Maps: Piece of the Cave Poster  | Surface Plot Poster  | Slice of the Pit



Valhalla Cave Preserve Alabama
Photo courtesy of Kelly Smallwood

Tumbling Rock Cave
Tumbling Rock Cave, the Topless Dome. Photo by Nathan Williams.

Tumbling Rock is one of Alabama's finest caves. SCCi started leasing the cave in January, 2008 and purchased the cave in July, 2011. This very special acquisition is the culmination of more than four years of extensive efforts by SCCi member Jay Clark and others. The cave is open for visitation primarily on weekends, from Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon. Access at other times may be possible by special arrangement.
Visitors entering the cave will be expected to have appropriate caving equipment (helmet, boots, and headlamp) and to follow standard cave safety and conservation practices as promoted by the National Speleological Society.
When visiting the preserve, it is important that visitors continue to observe a few common sense rules, such as:

  • When visiting the preserve, please do not change clothes in public. Changing area are available and must be used.

  • No using the bathroom in the cave, or at any place other than the facilities we have provided outside.

  • Please do not consume any alcoholic beverage or drugs of any type in the cave or on the preserve.

  • Please respect and be considerate of our neighbors, other visitors, and the cave environment by refraining from littering, touching artifacts, damaging formations, molesting wildlife, or otherwise disturbing the peace and serenity of the cave and the preserve.


 
Tumbling Rock
Tumbling Rock, photo by Nathan Williams

 
Help support this preserve! You can Buy a Brick that will be placed in a nice patio near the cave entrance. Each brick is available for a donation of $100 or more.  You may "buy" up to five bricks per form.  Each brick will be laser-engraved with a custom message of your choice, subject to space constraints, and will be permanently installed in a patio area outside the entrance to the SCCi's Tumbling Rock Cave.
Preserve Information:
Acreage: 5.0 acres in Jackson County, Alabama
Preserve Management Team: Nathan Williams (Lead) and Alexander Dobrowolski (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Access: Open on Saturdays and Sundays. Other times by special arrangement. To request a permit, visit http://permits.scci.org
Preserve Maps: Tumbling Rock Map
Buy a Brick! Visit this page
 
Tumbling Rock
Tumbling Rock, photo by Nathan Williams
On Friday, September 26, 2008, the SCCi completed the purchase of Steward Spring Cave near Fort Payne, Alabama. Steward Spring Cave (AL 871) contains more than 15,000 feet of nicely decorated stream passage, along with an abundance of cave life.
The cave was severely vandalized in the 1980s, and was later gated to end the abuse and allow restoration work to begin. Much of the damage has been repaired, but efforts are ongoing and will take years to complete.
Steward Spring Cave is managed by Ken Rupil and Lin Guy. It is gated, and arrangements for access may be made by emailing Ken and Lin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
NOTICE: To help prevent the spread of the deadly White Nose Syndrome (WNS) affecting bat populations, please read the SCCi Cave Visitation Policy and follow the guidelines before visiting Steward Spring Cave.
Preserve Information:
Acreage: 15.0 acres in DeKalb County, Alabama
Property Management Team: Ken Rupil and Lin Guy (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Access: To request a permit, visit http://permits.scci.org
Preserve Maps: Steward Spring Map
 
South Pittsburg Pit is located in the city of South Pittsburg in Marion County, Tennessee. The cave has a beautiful 160-foot entrance pit and more than 2,200 feet of surveyed passage, and has been a popular destination for visitors since its initial exploration by Chattanooga Grotto members in February 1964.
South Pittsburg Pit Preserve includes the pit entrance and ten acres overlying the cave passages, as well as easements for access to and from the preserve. The seller donated an additional ten acres to serve as a buffer against future development in the area. Access to the twenty-acre preserve is available via the established trail which begins behind the water tank above Lloyd Park in South Pittsburg.
The South Pittsburg Pit purchase was financed by a 10-year, $40,000 mortgage. SCCi was able to pay off the mortgage in large part because of our Sustaining Members. The stable monthly income allows the SCCi to buy even more caves that we all love and enjoy. Please consider joining the SCCi as a Sustaining Member.
NOTICE: To help prevent the spread of the deadly White Nose Syndrome (WNS) affecting bat populations, please read the SCCi Cave Visitation Policy and follow the guidelines before visiting South Pittsburg Pit.
Preserve Information:
Acreage: 20.76 acres in Marion County, Tennessee
Preserve Management Team: David Crisp (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Access: To request a permit, visit http://permits.scci.org
Preserve Maps: Piece of the Cave Poster  |  Surface Plot Poster
 
Snail Shell Cave is one of the most biologically significant cave sites in the Southeastern United States. In 1999, the cave was named one of the Top Ten Most Endangered Karst Communities by the Karst Waters Institute following its nomination by The Nature Conservancy of Tennessee. Primary threats to the cave include trespassing and vandalism, logging, and factors related to the encroaching sprawl and development from the nearby city of Murfreesboro.
In 1999 the Southeastern Cave Conservancy Inc. purchased Snail Shell Cave and 88 acres of surrounding karst land and cedar glade near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Snail Shell is the longest continuous cave in the Tennessee Central Basin region, with more than 9 miles of surveyed passages. It is part of a system of caves comprising more than 13 miles of known passages. The main entrance, which is located on the SCCi property, is a huge sink about 100 feet wide and 200 feet long. The sink is a microhabitat containing and extraordinary number of rare and endangered plant and animal species.
Snail Shell Cave Preserve Tennessee
Snail Shell Cave is an important natural resource. It is the intention of SCCi that it be available to responsible and qualified individuals for exploration, recreation, education, and scientific study.
SCCi's  Snail Shell Cave Preserve is being managed according to a comprehensive management plan developed by the Snail Shell Working Group and approved by the SCCi Board at its meeting in Chattanooga. The Working Group, which had more than 30 participants, was comprised of cavers, conservationists, scientists, and land managers experienced in cave and karst management issues. Key support and assistance were provided by The Nature Conservancy and the State of Tennessee.
Snail Shell Cave Preserve Tennessee

Due to a history of abuse of the cave and preserve, and to preserve good relations with our neighbors, the management plan requires advance notification before visiting the cave.
Snail Shell Cave Preserve Tennessee

Preserve Information:
Acreage: 88.0 acres in Rutherford County, Tennessee
Preserve Management Team: Bob Biddix (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Access:
To request a permit, visit http://permits.scci.org
Preserve Maps: Piece of the Cave Poster  | Surface Plot Poster







 





Custard Hollow Cave Sinking Cove Preserve Preserve Tennessee
Custard Hollow Cave

SCCi manages visitor access to the Sinking Cove area (also known as Compartment Four of the Carter Lands) under a lease agreement. The caves included in the lease are Sinking Cove Cave, Cave Cove Cave, and Custard Hollow Cave. The area was closed to visitors  in February, 2001 when it was leased by a new management group. By executing a  sub-lease of caving rights from Deep South Outdoors, SCCi re-opened the area to cavers for access outside of Tennessee deer and turkey seasons. Access to the preserve by SCCi members and guests is limited to the dates and periods determined and announced by SCCi and Deep South Outdoors. During those periods, access for caving and camping is allowed as defined in the Management Plan.

Access: Recreational caving and camping is governed by the Sinking Cove Cave Preserve Management Plan. At least one person in the group must be a current SCCi member. Our lease requires that the individual named on the permit be a current member of SCCi. Large groups (more than 16 people) need to request special permission at least two weeks in advance.


Sinking Cove Cave Sinking Cove Preserve Preserve Tennessee
Deep South Outdoors (DSO), the primary lease holder for the area including Sinking Cove and Custard Hollow,  requires that all permit holders must carry their permit with them while on the property and be prepared to show it when asked by any of the staff or other users. This policy was instituted by the DSO to control unauthorized access, poaching, and vandalism. It was designed for the hunters, but visitors have to abide by it as well.
Property Cleanup: As part of the lease, we are required to contribute to the maintenance and upkeep of the property. This is usually done in May at the beginning of the Summer open season.
SCCi pays a substantial annual fee for this lease. Contributions and donations to help cover the cost of the lease are very much appreciated.
NOTICE: To help prevent the spread of the deadly White Nose Syndrome (WNS) affecting bat populations, please read the SCCi Cave Visitation Policy and follow the guidelines.
Preserve Information:

Acreage: Leased in Franklin County, Tennessee
Preserve Management Team: Buddy Lane (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Access:
To request a permit, visit http://permits.scci.org  Closed during deer and turkey seasons.


 
 

Custard Hollow Cave


 
Rattling Cave Preserve Tennessee Photo courtesy of Bob Biddix
SCCi, in cooperation with the Appalachian Grotto secured access to Rattling Cave with a ten year lease.
Rattling Cave was one of the earliest caves explored in the east Tennessee region by organized cavers. In 1949, William M. Morrison and eight others rigged ropes, ladders and pulleys for the 130-foot descent into the cave.  The cave has a number of attractive formation areas and contains an abundance of cave dwelling fauna including a sizable population of federally-listed endangered gray bats.  Some 18,000 individuals have been observed hibernating in the winter months. The cave was surveyed to a length of more than 2,000 feet by the Smoky Mountain Grotto in the late 1960's, and extended by more than 500 feet by members of the Appalachian Grotto in the late 1990's.
This is one of the deepest and most scenic pits in East Tennessee.  Rattling Cave is located at the edge of the Appalachian Mountains, where very few caves exist in the predominately metamorphic strata.  The impressive 130-foot entrance pit leads to several levels of cave passages and nice formation areas.
Access procedures for the cave still require checking in with the water utility, owners of the cave.  Please follow the access procedures carefully.  Rattling Cave will continue to be managed to allow access in the summer months but will remain closed to visitation from September 15th to April 30th to protect the hibernating bats.
To request a permit to visit the cave, you’ll need to review and agree to the terms outlined in the SCCi Cave Visitation Policy.
Preserve Information:

Acreage: Leased in Cocke County, Tennessee
Preserve Management Team: Curtis Ellison (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Access
To request a permit, visit http://permits.scci.org


About Neversink
Neversink is a beautiful 162 foot open air pit in Jackson County Alabama. The bottom can only be reached using vertical caving skills, knowledge, and equipment to safely descend into its depths by  rappelling a rope and ascending that same rope with specialty equipment to exit the cave. The bottom of  Neversink is approximately 162 feet from the edge. The best way to obtain the skills needed for vertical caving is to join a local caving club or grotto of the National Speleological Society and receive hands-on training from its members.
Important Information Before Visiting Neversink

  • If you do not possess the vertical caving skills or ability needed to visit the bottom, Neversink is still an impressive and unique place to visit. The long hike up the mountain is strenuous and one should be prepared with an adequate quantity of drinking water and some snacks.

  • Cellular telephone coverage is poor in the area so don't count on being able to call for help from the area of the pit.

  • Please do not endanger your life or the lives of rescuers by attempting anything beyond your known skills and abilities.

  • Please do not use trees to rig ropes at the edge of Neversink. This activity is killing the trees. Use the two permanent rig areas that have been established. Each rigging area has two bolts. If the two rig areas are in use, the next party must wait until one of the rig areas is not in use, or return to the cave later.


History of Neversink
Long known and loved by caver explorers, the cave is considered by many to be the classic pit. It is probably the most photographed pit in TAG (Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia) due to the beautiful fern covered ledges (including some rare and endangered ferns), waterfalls, and other features. The pit is about 40 feet in diameter at the top and bells out to 100 feet in diameter at the bottom. It has been featured in countless slide shows and has been pictured in many publications.
The pit was closed in 1993 due to a change of ownership. The new owner was concerned about liability and about disturbance of the water pipe from the spring above the pit. The spring is the only reliable water supply for a home at the bottom of the mountain.
SCCi was already in negotiations to buy the pit when it was sold in 1993 to another buyer who bypassed the real estate agent. The, SCCi made contact with the new owner and entered into negotiations to buy the pit from him. After much work, an agreement was reached. SCCi began raising money to pay for the cave. At the eleventh hour the owner had second thoughts and decided to sell the land to the person using the spring. SCCi then made contact with that particular person, and was eventually able to reach a agreement to buy the cave from him in return for a guarantee of a water rights easement for the spring.
In July 1995 Southeastern Cave Conservancy signed a contract with the owner to purchase the pit. Following a survey of the property and some arrangements regarding parking and walking access, SCCi completed the purchase and took ownership on December 5, 1995. Total cost of the purchase was a little over $51,000.
Preserve Information
Acreage: 32.87 acres in Jackson County, Alabama
Preserve Management Team: Jim Hall and Darien Dopp (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Access:  To request a permit, visit http://permits.scci.org