BACKGROUND & HISTORY:
Fiery Gizzard is one of the most iconic and important trail systems in the state and spans portions of Grundy and Marion Counties atop the Cumberland Plateau. Originally built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the South Cumberland Recreation Area was established in the 1970s and encompassed the Fiery Gizzard Trail as well as other natural treasures in the area. The South Cumberland Recreation Area later became the South Cumberland State Park and the trail persists. The Fiery Gizzard Trail has received national attention for its beauty and diversity as one of the top 25 hiking trails in the United States (Backpacker Magazine).
Cutting across the heart of the South Cumberland Plateau, it not only provides a challenge to hikers, but it also offers unique natural features, a pristine creek, several waterfalls and breathtaking panoramic vistas. It is one of the most intact, biologically diverse, natural landscapes remaining in the eastern United States, attracting visitors from across the country and boosting the local economy.
The primary trailhead is within the Grundy Forest State Natural Area, but the trail passes through multiple private properties on its path to Foster Falls Small Wild Area (under TVA ownership). Descendants of the Werner Lumber Company were responsible for selling 1,200 acres to the State in 1997 for a significant portion of the Fiery Gizzard Trail. Another significant portion of the trail still passes through private land owned by descendants of the Werner Lumber Company land and their perennial generosity has made access through the property possible.
Conserving Land Near the Fiery Gizzard
In 2010, The Land Trust and The Conservation Fund protected 6,100 acres of land around Fiery Gizzard. 2,900 of these acres were transferred to the State as an addition to South Cumberland State Park and the Fiery Gizzard Trail. In April 2017, The Land Trust for Tennessee and The Conservation Fund, in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and the Open Space Institute (OSI), announced the addition of 1,058 acres to South Cumberland State Park in Marion County adjacent to the Fiery Gizzard Trail.
IN ORDER TO CONSERVE MORE PLACES LIKE FIERY GIZZARD…
In partnership with the Lyndhurst Foundation and the Sewanee Environmental Institute, The Land Trust for Tennessee helped coordinate a regional conservation action plan for the southern Cumberland Plateau. This effort, called Cumberland Voices, encompassed almost two million acres of varying landscapes, employed ecological studies and geospatial analyses to identify priority areas for conservation easements, and quantified landscape values and threats. The plan also offered a vision for future management of compatible development in the region.
PHOTO BY: STEPHEN ALVAREZ