Fiery Gizzard Trail
Fiery Gizzard trail is one of the top hiking trails in the nation. Photo by Mike Hicks.
At A Glance
- The Fiery Gizzard trail is approximately 17 miles long.
- It is one of the top hiking trails in the nation.
- Half the trail had been privately owned, we worked with partners to protect it permanently.
"I am excited that the 3,282 acre Fiery Gizzard tract is now under a conservation easement thanks to the Forest Legacy Program and natural resource partners like The Conservation Fund and the Land Trust for Tennessee. One of the main goals of the Division of Forestry is to keep Tennessee forests as forests and this conservation easement will do just that, it prohibits future development while at the same time allowing timber harvesting and other forestry practices to take place on this privately owned parcel of land."
-Jere E. Jeter, State Forester/Asst Commissioner, TN Department of Agriculture
The Fund partnered with the Land Trust for Tennessee and the Friends of the South Cumberland State Recreation Area to purchase and protect more than 6,200 acres of the western bluff of Fiery Gizzard Cove and more than a mile and a half of the Fiery Gizzard trail system.
The Fiery Gizzard area had been an urgent priority within the conservation community for several decades. The protection of these acres ensures the trail and bluff are conserved forever.
What Is Fiery Gizzard?
Fiery Gizzard is a place many Tennesseans hold dear. It is the heart of the South Cumberland Plateau and is one of the most intact, biologically diverse, natural landscapes remaining in the eastern United States. It is home to some of Tennessee’s most beautiful natural areas and offers incomparable recreational opportunities.
The Fiery Gizzard trail is approximately 17 miles long and is one of the top hiking trails in the nation according to Backpacker magazine. More than 250,000 visitors enjoy this prized recreational area each year creating a strong tourism economy that is essential to the overall economy in the South Cumberland Region.
Although the trail is open to the public and managed by the State of Tennessee as part of the South Cumberland State Recreation Area, half of the trail itself and the majority of the views were privately owned by a timber investment firm. The firm was required to sell the land, making it available for purchase.
What Did It Take To Protect Fiery Gizzard?
Funding to purchase the property at Fiery Gizzard came from a variety of sources. The total cost of the Fiery Gizzard project was about $8.1 million. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation committed to contributing more than $4 million. Once more than $1 million in donations was acquired, a challenge grant from an anonymous donor encouraged the community to complete the campaign.
In 2013, a grant from the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program allowed the Department of Environment and Conservation to purchase a working forest conservation easement on 3,282 acres adjacent to South Cumberland State Park and the Fiery Gizzard Trail in Grundy County. The property will remain in private ownership and be managed as a working forest, which significantly benefits the local economy while conserving the area’s exceptional biological diversity.