Conservation groups team with Tennessee to protect 130 acres in Rhea County near Laurel-Snow State Natural Area

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd /  Fall color is reflected in 2020 in a pool of a mountain stream in the Laurel-Snow State Natural Area.
Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Fall color is reflected in 2020 in a pool of a mountain stream in the Laurel-Snow State Natural Area.

Tennessee now owns 130 acres of Rhea County mountain land that will preserve the viewshed of the Cumberland Trail near Laurel-Snow State Natural Area, according to the Land Trust for Tennessee.

The Crane-Tumlin property, approximately 35 miles northeast of Chattanooga, is home to undisturbed sandstone glades and pristine forests that attract hikers and rock climbers alike, a news release from the trust states.

The 2,259-acre Laurel-Snow State Natural Area is a few miles north of Dayton, Tennessee, on the Walden's Ridge portion of the Cumberland Plateau.

(READ MORE: Cleveland man partners with conservation groups to protect 620-acre Custard Hollow on Cumberland Plateau)

Rhea County Executive Jim Vincent said the County Commission passed a resolution about a month ago to adopt the county's portion of the Cumberland Trail into its tourism program and offer some financial help in anticipation of a completed trail spanning most of the state, north to south, along Walden's Ridge.

"Really, it's going to be great for the locals because we have a lot of hikers, especially with us being a college town, we have a lot of hikers that are really going to enjoy that thing," Vincent said Friday in a phone interview.

The Cumberland Plateau stretches across four states -- Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama -- and is one of the longest hardwood forested plateaus in the world, trust officials said.

The preservation of the land in Rhea County protects forests for carbon storage and safeguards habitats for rare plants, the release said. The property is not accessible to the public, according to officials.

(READ MORE: Cumberland Trail State Park now almost 300 miles with acquisition in Rhea County)

The trust assisted the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation in acquiring this property, officials said.

When the Cumberland Trail is complete, it will be an extensive 300-mile footpath, officials said, beginning at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Kentucky and stretching south to the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park in Signal Mountain, Tennessee.

As outdoor tourism continues to grow into one of the region's largest industries, this area is poised to become one of high importance, the release states. The extra buffer -- for both wildlife habitat and recreation enthusiasts -- will add to the draw of the region and enhance the recreational experience.

Contact Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569.

  photo  Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Wildflowers bloom in 2020 along the trail in the Laurel-Snow State Natural Area.

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