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Doe Mountain Trails


2013/04/03


Doe Mountain Trails is a new project in Johnson County of northeast Tennessee near Mountain City. In May 2012, the Tennessee State Government approved the purchase of 8,600 acres of wooded Southern Appalachian / Southern Blue Ridge mountain range for a total of $8.8 million. The purchase preserves one of the largest remaining blocks of Southern Appalachian forest. Doe Mountain is managed by the Doe Mountain Recreation Authority, a new, 15-member organization put in place by the state Legislature to oversee recreational opportunities on the mountain.

Both local and state governments joined with the Nature Conservancy, which played a big role in the acquisition, in the two-year long acquisition process. It was an easy partnership between the state and the Conservancy. “Our vision for Doe Mountain involves engaging the state’s land managers and the local community in developing a multi-use plan for outdoor recreation there,” said Gina Hancock, state director of the Nature Conservancy. “Working with the state and county officials, we will set up the appropriate locations for different activities as well as build in protective management approaches that preserve water quality and maintain an intact forest cover.”

The land is a former Wild Life Management Area that was sold off in 2006 to private developers, Doe Mountain Investment, LLC and Doe Mountain Development, LLC, for the purpose of creating a high end residential community. However, with the death of founder Charles Osborne, and hard economic times, the development failed, resulting in the land being foreclosed. Doe Mountain was at risk for being clear-cut or strip-mined, but the land was saved, purchased by the Tennessee State government for use as a multi-purpose recreation area.

 Doe Mountain contains many miles of pre-existing trails. Trail uses include horseback riding, mountain biking, all terrain vehicle trails, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, rappelling, camping and spelunking.

Legends about Doe Mountain abound, too. It is rumored that there is a cave or several caves on the 8,600 acres. There is also a rumor of large sand dunes located somewhere in the Doe Mountain Trails area. There are also reports of old family cemeteries located within the Doe Mountain range. Along the trails, you can see the scars from manganese surface mining. The name Doe Mountain reportedly derives from a visit by Daniel Boone, whence he shot and ate a Doe while hiking through the mountain.

Officials had planned for an April 1st “soft opening” of Doe Mountain Recreation. But Johnson County Mayor Larry Potter said that lots of rain, flooding, and now snow, have postponed the opening. Hopefully it can happen around the first of May, but that remains dependent on weather conditions.

Potter is very proud of the preservation efforts. He did have an offer from someone who wanted to cut all the timber, “But that would have taken us backwards five years,” he said. He is meeting with the Roads and Trails Committee, several use groups including mountain biking people in Johnson City, local horse people, and Wendy Snead of the TN Dept. of Agriculture – all to make plans to use the area for various recreational purposes, while still foremost preserving the mountain. “This will really be something special,” he boasted. “We want to first, save the mountain. Then, second, borrow it a little bit and get some economic benefit from it.” He is encouraging local landowners to consider building cabins or camping areas in hopes of “getting people here to spend some money” while enjoying the beauty of the mountain.

For more information, visit http://johnsoncountytnchamber.org/doe-mountain-adventure-trails/or http://johnsoncountytrails.org/doe.htmlor http://www.doemountaintrails.com/
(Doe Mountain photo by Byron Jorjorian / The Associated Press)

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