About the Trust

The Trust was founded in 1981. Since then, we've protected over 17,000 acres in the Tennessee River Gorge.


The Tennessee River Gorge Trust is the perfect example of what can happen when a small group of thoughtful citizens come together to change their community for the better. The Trust was founded in 1981 —later incorporated in 1986 — as the result of a dinner party at Adele Hampton’s house on Elder Mountain. Chattanooga-area citizens gathered around her coffee table to discuss the worrisome development of the mountains bordering Chattanooga. Right there in the Hampton’s living room, Chattanoogans decided our mountains are worth protecting. With the help of cooperative landowners, TVA, the State of Tennessee and engaged citizens, our community has protected of over 17,000 of the 27,000 acres of the Gorge!

The Gorge consists of 27,000 acres carved through the Cumberland Mountains by 27 miles of the Tennessee River. It is the only large river canyon bordering a mid-size city (Chattanooga) and it is the fourth largest river canyon east of the Mississippi.  The Gorge begins approximately 5 miles downstream from downtown Chattanooga (across from Williams Island) and continues 27 river miles to Hales Bar Dam Marina near Nickajack Lake. The Gorge is home to dozens of archaeological sites in the Gorge bear evidence of human's presence there for at least 10,000 years. Check out the Gorge's threatened and endangered species list here

If you haven't gotten the chance yet, meet our staff and read our blog to find out what the Trust is working on now.

Our Mission

To preserve the Tennessee River Gorge as a healthy and productive resource through land protection, education, community engagement, and good land stewardship practices.

In the end we will conserve only what we love. We love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.
— Baba Dioum


We offer financial transparency for your peace of mind. Here's how we've been doing: 

Please note: We will never trade, share or sell your personal information with other entities.