State Natural Areas Program Offers Mid-Winter Hike At Virgin Falls State Natural Area

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Department of Environment and Conservation’s Division of Natural Areas will host a guided day hike at Virgin Falls State Natural Area in White County on Saturday.

Stewardship Ecologist Forrest Evans will take hikers on a journey through the scenic beauty of one of Tennessee’s best-loved hiking trails. The strenuous eight-mile trail to the falls descends off of the Plateau and meanders along a creek, passing caves, sinks and waterfalls. This strenuous backcountry hiking trip involves negotiating difficult trail situations, and hikers should be in good physical condition.

Hikers will have lunch at the falls, which offers remarkable views. The trail then backtracks up and out of the gulf to the parking area. Participants should meet at 7:30 a.m. at the Nashville Kroger parking lot located at 5544 Old Hickory Boulevard (near Summit Medical Center) in Hermitage. Participants will carpool and caravan to the trail head. 

Hikers should arrive dressed for the weather. In addition to wearing layers of clothing and sturdy boots, participants should bring lunch and plenty of water. 

Reservations are required by Friday, and can be made by contacting Forrest Evans at 615 532-0431 or Forrest.Evans@tn.gov. Consult a weather report before the trip, as the hike will be canceled in the event of rain or predicted rain.

Virgin Falls is a 1,157-acre natural area located adjacent to the Bridgestone Firestone Centennial Wilderness in White County. The natural area is named for Virgin Falls, which is formed by an underground stream that emerges from a cave, and then drops over a 110-foot high cliff before disappearing into another cave at the bottom of the sink. The area is noted for its unique geological features and several other waterfalls including Big Laurel, Sheep Cave Falls and Big Branch Falls. The deep gorges are heavily wooded and are ecologically diverse supporting various aged second growth mixed mesophytic and oak-hickory forest.  For information about Virgin Falls, including a map of the area, please visit http://www.tn.gov/environment/na/natareas/virgin/.    

Hikers interested in overnight accommodations are encouraged to contact Cumberland Mountain or Fall Creek Falls state parks, which offer a variety of choices.  Please visit www.tnstateparks.com for additional details.

More information about Tennessee’s natural areas program, including a complete list of all natural areas, is available at www.tn.gov/environment/na/



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