Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, along with leaders from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation will be officially dedicating the purchase of Virgin Falls State Natural Area tomorrow, December 11th.
Through the support of a number of private/public partnerships, the state acquired the land in November 2012. Prior to that, Virgin Falls had been under private ownership, but managed by the state as a natural area for nearly 40 years. Working closely with the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation, the state of Tennessee was able to purchase the 1,551-acre parcel near Sparta through a combination of funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and private donations.
A favorite hiking destination for decades, Virgin Falls features a waterfall that exits a cave at the top of a cliff and then disappears into a second cave at its base. Nature lovers have noted the existence of unique flora and fauna and amateur geologists have explored the composition and structure of its many caves.
The dedication will take place at Welch's Point in the Bridgestone Firestone Wilderness, on Welch Cemetery Road in Sparta.
Directors: From I-40 in Cookeville, take Exit 288. Drive south on TN 111 for 14.1 miles; turn left on US 70E. Drive 10.8 miles east through Sparta to Easland Road. Turn right and drive south for 5.8 miles to Scott's Gulf Road. Turn right; drive 2.1 miles, passing Virgin Falls trailhead parking lot, and turn right on Welch Cemetery Road. Dedication is 2 miles ahead.