Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center has begun the process of permanently preserving its 300+ acres of idyllic green space in the heart of Chattanooga. Reflection Riding will partner with the American Battlefield Trust to further protect their scenic land forever through a historic conservation easement. With partners like Reflection Riding, the Trust has worked to protect more than 53,000 acres across 24 states. This work will add an important tract of “The Battle Above the Clouds” to conserved, historic landscapes across the greater Chattanooga region.
This agreement will amplify and solidify Reflection Riding’s long-range vision to restore the vital connection between people and nature. Thanks to this partnership, Reflection Riding will continue to provide access to the outdoors for this generation and those to come. As dedicated stewards of the land and natural resources, Reflection Riding and the Trust, together, will add permanent legal protection that prevents the land from ever being developed. This gift will benefit the Chattanooga region and her people for decades to come.
“We’re seizing on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to permanently conserve this property that our community has loved for more than half a century. While our mission remains the same, this agreement will ensure that our children and grandchildren, and frankly those who come after them, will experience the same beautiful historic landscape originally preserved by the Chambliss, Humphreys, and many other families over the years,” Reflection Riding President and CEO Mark McKnight said. “While individual buildings may come and go, this historic landscape and the botanical heritage we’ve inherited will stay unchanged for future generations once this extra layer of legal protection goes into place. As the Chattanooga region grows, we’re losing opportunities to conserve land — especially open fields and grasslands — at an alarming rate. Our leadership felt that we must act now to permanently protect this place we all love so much.”
This agreement will also significantly aid Reflection Riding’s progress in its master planning process, including improved accessibility, enhanced trails and recreation areas, and better connections to Lookout Creek and the adjacent National Park lands.
“Over the last few years, Reflection Riding has chosen a transformative and creative path forward,” noted Board Chair Stefanie Crowe. “I am proud of our leadership, our staff, our volunteers, and our members for helping us build a sustainable, long-term plan for taking our conservation work into the future. And I can’t wait to see what else is in store for this great place.”
Reflection Riding is excited to partner with the Trust as we work towards the permanent protection of our beloved natural resources. “My kids grew up coming to Reflection Riding — from attending summer camp, to learning to hike longer distances, to figuring out how to paddle on the creek,” remembers Jim Catanzaro, a former Board Chair and long-time volunteer. “I can’t imagine my hometown without this place. With our partners at the American Battlefield Trust and generous support from our Chattanooga community, this landscape and the connections to nature it holds will be protected forever. There’s just not much more important than that.”
To learn more about Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center, please visit reflectionriding.org. Set on 317 acres on the west flank of Lookout Mountain, Reflection Riding is part landscape park, part nature center, and all outdoor exploration, just minutes from downtown. Reflection Riding restores the vital connection between people and nature. Options for getting back to nature abound on both land and water, on-site and off-site with outreach programs offered in 16 counties. On-site, a winding three-mile gravel loop can be walked, run, or bicycled, through old-growth forests, pastoral meadows, and wetlands habitats. Children often explore the boardwalk over Lookout Creek, Discovery Treehouse, and Paddler's Perch, complete with canoes for visitor use and easy put-in. Over 10 miles of trails connect to National Park lands that lead to the top of Lookout Mountain. The native animal conservation program brings visitors face-to-face with critically-endangered American red wolves as well as more common Chattanooga wildlife like bobcats, sandhill cranes, and more. A truly inspiring experience is listening to the red wolves howl in unison and imagining what came before us from Civil War battles to ancient trails walked by Native Americans.