What is the Tennessee River Gorge Trust?

Photo taken on the river showing the side of a mountain with wisps of fog.
The Tennessee River Gorge on a foggy morning | photo via NOOGAtoday

You’ve likely heard of the Tennessee River Gorge Trust, but have you ever wondered what the trust does, exactly?

Last week, we took a boat adventure with the nonprofit — on the Tennessee River Gorge, of course — to learn a bit more about what it does + how you can get involved.

Fast Facts

  • The trust was founded by Chattanoogans in 1981 with the purpose of protecting the land surrounding the river Gorge.
  • While the recent Edwards’s Point acquisition was big news, the trust also acquired 2 additional tracts on Signal and Aetna Mountains — the view just before the Spaceship house + a property featuring a large wetland called a fen.
  • Stringer’s Ridge, though not located on the Gorge, is also managed by TRGT.
Photo of a small cabin in the woods with screen windows and a green, screened-in door.
TRGT’s bird banding observatory | Photo via NOOGAtoday

What else does TRGT do?

  • The organization has a bird banding observatory on the river Gorge that’s used for research, education + engagement. According to TGRT, bird banding research helps the trust know what’s going on with the lands, since birds are an indicator species.
  • TRGT manages various campgrounds in the area — Williams Island, Pot Point Blueway, and Boulder Field.
  • In the spring + summer, the trust schedules boat tours (like the one we went on), hosts various outdoor community activites, and works on conservation efforts in addition to bird banding research.
  • In the fall + winter, they focus on boundary patrol, stewardship work, trail improvement, some research work and bird banding, community engagement, and running the campsites.
  • The trust also has a partnership in Petén, Guatemala — where many of the river Gorge birds fly south for the winter.
A photo from the water of a cabin on the side of the river, surrounded by trees.
Pot Point Cabin can be rented out for a stay through TRGT | Photo via NOOGAtoday

What can I do with the TRGT?

While the TRGT has slowed down its community engagement due to COVID-19, the nonprofit hopes to start activities back up in the spring, including:

  • Boat tours
  • Public bird adventures
  • Group hikes
  • Sunset paddling in partnership with Outdoor Chattanooga

In the meantime, though, all of the trust’s facilities are open for use, including campsites. You can secure a permit to camp up to 10 days for free online.

The land trust also has a live Gorge cam, so you can check out the Gorge year-round from the comfort of your own home.