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Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Visitor Overlook Trail

March 2002

Paved Trail from parking area Note: The visitor overlook was previously (before September 11, 2001) open for self-guided, public tours, but access to the road to ORNL is currently restricted by security checkpoints. I recommend contacting the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge for the latest details on how to visit these areas.

Although the general area was previously open to public access, it is clear that the visitor overlook has been neglected for at least a couple years or more. I last personally visited it in 1995, at which time the facility was in good shape, and the video equipment was still operating. This is clearly no longer the case, and has not been for quite some time.

Entrance to dirt trail The tour begins from the parking area with a short walk down an asphalt paved walkway. The main lab facility is straight ahead, across Bethel Valley Road.

The trail to turns to the left along a dirt trail, up a slight hill to the overlook.

"Facility Closed" is apparently the official status of the overlook, but the trail itself is in reasonably good shape (for a dirt trail through the woods).

Interpretive Sign on Tree Along the way, one can still see some remnants of an old interpretive nature trail, like this sign on an "Eastern Red Cedar."

Overlook Building from trail Soon the overlook building comes into view at the top of the hill, up a slightly increasing incline.

Just before reaching the overlook, you may notice a small plaque mounted on a concrete block on the ground next to the trail.

Informational Plaque on ground "This overlook is situated on Chickamauga limestone geology. Trail leading from parking lot to overlook passes through mixed cedar, oak, and pine woods containing a few open areas. Adjacent to parking lot are open areas of grass, herbs, and eastern red cedar. Cedar barrens, with their open glade or park-like vegetation, are restricted to shallow, shaley limestone soils such as paralleling the road below. Vegetation of these dry sites consists primarily of eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), oaks, redbud (Cercis canadensis), and wide variety of grasses and herbs. Appearance of barrens varies from open areas primarily in grass in driest, poorest locations to thin woods in richer, less dry areas. These were originally called "barrens" because in the midst of lush hardwood forest vegetation of east Tennessee, these areas stood out as barren and unproductive sites."

Go to: [ History ] [ Trail ] [ Overlook ]

Disclaimer Fine Print: This site is personal, and is independent of ORNL or any other organization. Use of the abbreviation "ORNL" and the name "Oak Ridge National Laboratory" is purely for descriptive purposes. No endorsement, no approval, and no involvement by ORNL is implied.

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