Photo Credit: Chuck Sutherland
White County

Virgin Falls

PROJECT PARTNERS Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

For many years, the State managed portions of the property as a State Natural Area, allowing public hiking access. In 2012, TennGreen collaborated with the State of Tennessee to acquire the property outright, thanks to many private donors.

Virgin Falls is Tennessee’s premiere scenic wonder and natural attraction. Formed by an underground stream, it emerges from a cave and drops over a 110-foot high cliff before disappearing into another cave at the bottom of the falls. The Virgin Falls State Natural Area holds several other significant waterfalls including Big Laurel Falls, Sheep Cave Falls, and Big Branch Falls This part of Tennessee is noted not only for its beautiful waterfalls, but also for its sinkholes and caves. Caves in the Virgin Falls tract include Big Laurel Cave, Sheep Cave, and Virgin Falls Cave. The Caney Fork River and its tributaries drain the area and contribute to the unique formations of the gorge. The Caney Fork Overlook provides a dramatic view of Scott’s Gulf and the Caney Fork River 900 ft below. These unique geologic features make Virgin Falls one of Tennessee’s favorite hiking destinations. The Virgin Falls property is located adjacent to the State-owned Bridgestone Firestone Centennial Wilderness Area which conserves rugged Scott’s Gulf, a beautiful gorge situated along the Caney Fork River in White County, Tennessee.

In 2012, TennGreen assisted TDEC’s State Natural Areas program with purchasing the land, securing a discounted price, private donations, and other grants. Prior to TennGreen’s acquisition, the land was available to the public due to an 80-year lease from Bowater. TennGreen had a one-time opportunity to purchase the land prior to the lease’s expiration, which protected the land from surface mining and other detrimental actions.