Window Cliffs State Natural Area opens to the public this weekend

by | April 6, 2017 7:13 am

Window Cliffs State Natural Area (Photo by CHUCK SUTHERLAND)

A highly anticipated grand opening of Tennessee’s newest state natural area is scheduled to take place this weekend.

Window Cliffs State Natural Area, in Baxter, is the newest addition to the large quantity of state parks and natural areas in Tennessee.

Window Cliffs State Natural Area, which is located at 8400 Old Cane Creek Road, in Baxter, is a 275-acre tract of land that runs adjacent to Burgess Falls State Park, in Sparta. According to Kim Schofinski with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, “Window Cliffs State Natural Area will offer visitors hiking options and incredible views of unique geological formations.”

This property is well known to locals and has been previously privately owned. Those who visited Window Cliffs in the past had to do so by trespassing onto private land. The Land Trust of Tennessee initially purchased the land in two tracts from the private landowners, in 2014.

After a third tract was purchased, which now is the home of the trailhead and parking lot, the Land Trust was ready to dedicate the properties for public use. In 2015, it was announced that the State of Tennessee had acquired the properties and planned to dedicate it as a state natural area for all Tennesseans to enjoy.

Window Cliffs will become a component of Burgess Falls State Park and will be managed by Burgess Falls Park rangers, much like how White County’s Virgin Falls State Natural Area is managed by Fall Creek Falls State Park.

The new natural area will feature a 4-mile walking trail highlighting a 20-foot waterfall and several cascades. The trail also showcases a unique and unusual geological feature that makes Window Cliffs well known. Within the cliffs, erosion over the years has created what appear to be windows within the cliff.

Those who plan on visiting and enjoying the new state natural area are highly recommended to use caution. This trail is rated as strenuous. Physical fitness, as well as good judgment, is necessary for those who plan on hiking at the location.

Due to the sensitive nature at Window Cliffs, there are several bridgeless stream crossings, just like Virgin Falls State Natural Area.

The grand opening is scheduled for noon, April 8, 2017. The opening of Window Cliffs State Natural Area falls within the Tennessee State Natural Area Celebration Week, April 1-8. Window Cliffs will bring the total number of state natural areas across the state to 85.

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