Nemo Train Tunnels are Closed!!!
Unfortunately, because of one avoidable mistake the Nemo Train Tunnels are Closed. On the afternoon of March 6th, 2022, Norfolk Southern manifest freight train 123 struck a classic 1967 GMC Pickup Truck at Nemo, Tennessee.
We hope Local Officials and the Off-Road Organizations can work out an agreement with Norfolk Southern to reopen the Nemo Train Tunnels.
The adventure of a lifetime for most would be the opportunity to visit a historic abandoned train tunnel and either walk or drive through one. You might ask “How Can This Happen”? The abandoned Nemo train tunnels are just 6 miles SW of Wartburg, Tennessee. Nemo is situated in the East Tennessee Mountains, just north of the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area. This area is full of many different attractions, but it’s rare to come across train tunnels like these. There are actually two abandoned tunnels, which are both accessible to the general public to explore. When you’re looking for new adventures these tunnels are great for Easy Off Roading in East Tennessee and are a total step back in time.
Walk-Thru or Drive-Thru Tunnels
Note: The tunnels are old and from age can be hazardous. At the time this article was written the tunnel seemed stable. If conditions change let us know. WARNING! You will be driving next to active Train Tracks. Stay away from the tracks. Trains come without warning every 15 to 20 minutes.
Just outside The Catoosa Wildlife Management Area are two one-of-a-kind tunnels, both of which you can travel through at your leisure. In fact, you can easily explore one of these tunnels on foot. The tunnel isn’t dangerous, but it is cold, dark and gives off an eerie feeling upon entrance. In fact, it’s the suspense and anticipation of what you might see that makes it exciting. A short 5-10 minute walk will take you from one end of the tunnel to the other and a flashlight will definitely be needed.
If you would prefer to drive instead, there is another tunnel suitable for any stock off road vehicle. Tunnel #24 makes off roading in Tennessee a blast! It will be a naturally dark ride, however, so you’ll want to equip your vehicle with a suitable amount of lights so you can see where you’re going. This will be handy in case of hazards, such as standing water which may collect up to mid-tire within the tunnel’s depths. Tunnel #24 is also the longest tunnel to explore in the area. Eventually, you’ll find yourself traveling in pitch darkness so dense there will be no visible light ahead of or behind you. We guarantee a trip through Tunnel #24 will top as the crowning moment of your trip! If you’d like to experience what the tunnel is really like before your trip, you can find videos online from other people’s tours.
Explore Trails Outside the Tunnels
These abandoned train tunnels are just east of the Rock Creek Campgrounds and Catoosa Wildlife Management Area on the east bank of the Emory River, so there is plenty to see around them as well. Natural trails are available for hiking, biking and even kayaking and fishing on the Emory and Obed Rivers. Once you get through to the other side of a tunnel, you’re naturally transitioned into a trail where you can continue exploring. Your adventure doesn’t stop at the end of the tunnel! Visit The Catoosa Wildlife Management Area which features numerous other dirt roads to travel and hiking trails – too many, in fact, to explore within one day, or even one trip! You will want to make sure you have a cooler full of drinks and food so you can spend the whole day enjoying nature.
Important: Landowners May Close Access
Readers Comment: “The tunnel is not in the management area, the road to the tunnel is on private property and the tunnel is part of the rail road easement. This is an important point to make: All visitors on the south end access road, to the tunnels, needs to respect the land owners property. The landowners allow the access road to stay open to get to the tunnel. Only drive on the access road and do not do any off roading on the access road or along the easement! Some people are tearing up the landowners property and they May Close Access.”
Historic Nemo Train Bridge
The historic Nemo Train Bridge is a must see while you are there. This bridge is part of the Cumberland Trail system. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Cumberland Trail System is in the process of saving this wonderful bridge. To read more about the Nemo Bridge CLICK HERE.
Wildlife Management Area Regulations
The Nemo Tunnels are located just north of the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area.
It is important to review Tennessee Wildlife Management Area’s General Regulations for specific restrictions to make your trip worry free.
Motorized Vehicles Requirements:
All motorized vehicles must be muffler equipped to suppress noise and be spark-arrestor equipped to prevent fires. Operation of motorized vehicles is confined to roads not designated as closed. Off-road vehicles are restricted to roads open to other motorized traffic (except where prohibited by state or federal statute) and designated trails only. ORVs may be operated during daylight hours and at other times when participating in authorized activities.
Driving off roads into woods, fields or utility right-of-ways is prohibited for all motorized vehicles.
Motorized vehicles may be prohibited on any Agency-owned Wildlife Management Area if deemed necessary to protect wildlife, vegetation and/or property. Some exceptions apply. Review Tennessee Wildlife Management Area’s General Regulations.
Plenty to See and Come Back for More
Whether you have children or just want to get a group of friends together to explore these abandoned tunnels, you’re sure to have a great time. Some of the trails follow the Obed River, which has plenty to see and explore as well. Once you make a stop at Catoosa Wildlife Management Area, you’ll want to come back to do some more exploring in Morgan County, Tennessee pretty soon. There’s so much to do in this area that we could not cover all of the information about Morgan County. For more information on Morgan County TN CLICK HERE.
If you’re a history buff, a railroad fan or just a seeker of the unusual, there may not be a better experience than the abandoned Nemo train tunnels in Catoosa Wildlife Management Area. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for more adventures like these.
Catoosa and several other WMAs are closed to entry between sunset and sunrise in order to reduce the effect of the activities that are considered incompatible to established wildlife management practices.
Looking to find a grid coordinate on the tunnel entry point. I would like to take my Jeep and some others up that way. thank you for the information. always looking for fun and beautiful places to ride.
We now have a GPS map for the Nemo Tunnels.
Can I have them new to the area and have been trying so long to find a map that will go to them
The maps are Free but you must read and agree to the Terms and Conditions prior to gaining access.
Nemo map is supplied from a 3rd party entity and is merely posted for convenience, reference, and information purposes – not direct navigational purposes. This supplied map is an approximate depiction of a possible route taken to the listed destination/location. This map should not be used as a primary means of navigation. The drivers, including passengers, assume all responsibility and utilize this map voluntarily and at their own risk. Easy Off Roading makes no warranties about the supplied maps, safety and/or condition of the listed destination and each user of this map is responsible for determining its suitability for his/her intended use or purpose. Easy Off Roading is also not responsible in any way for any mishap or consequences suffered of any nature as a result of the information seen and contained within this map, and the driver’s/passenger’s use thereof.
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The tunnel is not on the management area, the road to the tunnel is on private property and the tunnel is part of the rail road easement up to 2026. This is a important point to make is that on the south end of the tunnel all visitors need to respect the land owners that allow the road to stay open to get to the tunnel. All the off roading that is done along the easement road is tearing up the landowners property.
Thank You for your input.
Any input about the article is welcome.
Your input helps us inform future readers about what to expect and how to act.
I added an “Important” message to the article.
I’m confused by the map, do you enter the drive through tunnel from the north or the south?
Thank You for your question.
Most people enter the drive through tunnel from the South.
Also if you are using the Google map there is a Marker at both ends of the tunnel.
There is a warning on the South Marker which is labeled “004 – Nemo Tunnel #24 Entrance”.
Is there somewhere to park and unload a sxs?
Yes! Google map “Nemo Trailhead” it is a Parking Lot. This is where we unload our Jeeps.
Thank You for your Comment
Went to Nemo tunnel today. Water was very manageable and we had a great time!
Did visit, and was perfect intro ride 4×4 with the wife. Other than the fact we ran into another vehicle coming in from other side and I had to back out what was 1/2 the tunnel and definitely the roughest portion, was good. Walked the other tunnel. Drove down to the trails by the water and rode just a bit, as solo and no winch, did not get into the mud bog holes. Will revisit another time when I am back at Windrock with it being to close. Thanks for posting about this place!
Thank You for your comment.
I am glad the article helped your trip to Nemo.
We done Nemo this weekend. Had an absolute blast. Very easy to navigate. Theres also a picnic area across from the entrance of the trail head. Makes it very easy for unloading 4x4s if they need be. Also has permanent porta pottys, several picnic benches, hiking trails and of course Nemo Bridge. Was a great place to visit. Will definitely be coming back.
We are glad you had a good time.
Nemo is a fun place to visit.
Any recommendations for camping in the nearby area? (Legal camping)
Yes there is Rock Creek Campgrounds across the river From the Trailhead.
Here is the Link:
can 2wd trucks make it with out an issue if they stick to the main tunnel trail?
I have never tried it in 2WD.
So if you do try it take a friend that has 4WD and a winch just in case you need help.
It is recommended that when off roading never go alone. Always have a second vehicle.
Now for your answer:
You should not have an issue driving through the Drive Through tunnel in 2WD and to the walk through Tunnel.
(Making sure you stay clear of the active tracks!!!!)
When leaving the area you may have trouble driving the bypass in 2WD.
Be careful of vehicles entering the area if you have to drive back through the tunnel to exit the area.
If you exit through the Drive through tunnel make sure you have GOOD BACKUP Lighting in case you encounter another vehicle and have to back out of the tunnel!
Let me know what you do and how it was.
PS: Make sure you read the notes on the Map!
Has anyone noticed on the south entrance, I think, there are private property signs? I just drove up there to find it before I take the Jeep. I was going to go in the morning but don’t want to get in trouble or go somewhere I’m not suppose to.
We have not heard of any changes.
The Private Property signs should be for the private property either side of the Southern Access Road to the Tunnels.
Stay on the Access Road and you should be fine.
Make sure you read all the Notes for the waypoints on the Map!!!
Thanks for posting this info. We live about 40 miles away and may try this trail later this year.
Thank You for your comment.
Let me know when you are thinking about going and I will see if any of my friends in Murfreesboro TN want to go also.
My wife has been wanting to go again and also want to visit tour Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary.
Can the trail support a full size 4wd? We have a 4wd diesel Excursion “stock but heavy, wide and tall” not sure if it would be advisable to drive back or hike in.
We do have capable 4wd IH Scouts but will be traveling from out of state and won’t have it with us
The photo on the article has my friends pickup in it and he was OK.
I don’t think I would try it in a dually.
I haven’t have my new RAM 1500 4×4 over there yet so I don’t know how it will do on the bypass trail.
Thanks we will give it a try and I’ll lay yah know how it goes. It will be a few months still planning the trip.
I sent you an email.
Maybe we can meetup and at the same time hit Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. https://tourbrushy.com/