Mountain Biking is not only a challenging outdoor sport but also a culture of growth for any community it arises in. The community engagement that comes along with the mtb culture goes far beyond the sport. It starts with interactions at the local bike shop to networking in group rides, and eventually volunteering to build and maintain trails.
While freshly groomed trails are a perk for bringing tourism to our hometown region, it’s important to share and build our community together as locals. The local engagement at Winged Deer Park brings a sense of community to this area like no other. The park has evolved from lakeside movies and volleyball to emerging disc golf champions and one of the best after-work riding spots around the Tri-Cities.
Cover Photo By: Collin Wheeler
Roll the Bones
The sport of mountain biking is a great way to build confidence personally, as an athlete, and on a social level. Starting out on green trails and advancing by speed, climb, or drops are just a few examples of how you can build up your skill level. While building skills, you are also stacking the foundation of confidence that will not only carry over into your next bike ride but also throughout aspects of daily life. Completing that trail or hitting that jump you’ve been eyeing down will boost endorphins and have you feeling overall in a more positive mood.
Roll the Bones, a black diamond trail at Winged Deer Park, is a great confidence builder with long rock gardens, boulder drops, and plenty of ground to practice and grow in the sport.
It’s important to know your skill level when leveling up to black diamond trails like Roll the Bones. Seasoned riders will roll their bikes through the riding area first to assess the landing and level of comfort for hitting jumps and drops. It’s important to have your bike tuned ahead of time or rent one from a local shop who will do this for you.
YYZ is the park’s newest trail! This one is rated blue but can ride like a black with plenty of room to get speed and air. After an immediate rock roll and jump into the valley, you pedal up to a large boulder roll and three back-to-back jumps.
Have fun, know your limits, and make new friends to build skills with. If you don’t feel confident the first time, walk the bike back up and do it again. Community parks bring everyone together for a good time and are accessible for after-work evening rides or group meets. Winged Deer Park is close to town and a great playground to venture off to no matter what your skill level is.
The bike trails at Winged Deer Park have grown from pavement to boulder drops and big air jumps. This didn’t happen overnight, and it took dozens of sunrises and sunsets to grow these trails to where they are now. Volunteer organizations, like SORBA Tri-Cities, are why these mountain bike trails even exist.
Spend a day on the trails together, and ride away knowing each other on a whole new level. Biking is a fun way to meet new people and spend time outside. The best way to get to know the trails and the builders is to attend volunteer trail maintenance and building days. It is a great activity to make new friends, get to know the locals who make these trails happen, and appreciate the trails for more than just primo dirt. After a volunteer day, you will feel really good about taking a ride at the park knowing you contributed to the trail’s longevity.
.John Snyder, VP of SORBA Tri-Cities, has a passion for being on two wheels and keeping trails accessible for our community! Working with land managers and obtaining grant funding are only a small part of the formula for expanding a network of trails around the Appalachian Highlands region. Check out the video below to find out how you can get hands-on with building these trails!
It's FALL in East Tennessee, and the leaves are popping off in higher elevations! There are so many places to plan a scenic drive to, take a hike, or ride singletrack in through a wonderland of changing colors. No plans? Take a sporadic drive down the winding mountain roads of Appalachia this fall and witness the magic for yourself.
Don't know where to go and feeling spontaneous? Hop in the car with the fam, and let the road be your guide. When border hopping between East Tennessee and Western North Carolina, getting lost is actually preferred. It's where you lose the crowds and find the best views. Driving towards Asheville from Johnson City or vice versa like the Wagon Wheel song suggests, you could literally hop off any exit and end up on a back mountain road. Take the exit for Mount Mitchell and go see the colors from the highest point east of the Mississippi, or make your way towards the Blue Ridge Parkway for some of the best views you'll see in this lifetime. The hidden town of Chimney Rock is a true southern gem to explore. The farm nestled mountain country scenery will fill your heart and light your soul on fire as orange as the leaves that spread across these Appalachian hills.
What a time to be alive! This is the best time of year- pumpkin & apple everything, corn mazes, spooky classics and new releases like The Haunting of Bly Manor, and that warm cozy feeling that only comes with fall. Along with those lazy rainy days that are much needed and far too few, it's a great time of year to get outside and take a hike to see the foliage. The Appalachian Trail offers too many section hikes to name along the TN/NC border. Do an internet search and reach out to your favorite trail buddy to go on that backpacking trip you've been talking about for the last few years.
Mountain Biking has been stealing the show in the Appalachian Highlands. Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Bark is a hit, along with expansion on the Hampton Watershed trail system, and a rumor about a new bike park coming to Asheville. Nothing quite rides like biking in October through tangled arches of colorful falling leaves. There are many places to ride road & gravel, as well, like The Tweetsie Trail that starts in Johnson City and ends in Elizabethton. Be sure to stop in at Local Motion Cyclery for bike rentals and gear right on the trail. Just over the state line into Virginia, it's the busiest time of year to ride the Virginia Creeper Trail and no wonder why with dozens of colorful trees lining the way! Reserve your shuttle ahead of time.
Enjoy Appalachia, please respect local pandemic protocols and mandates, support small businesses during your visit like the ones in Tennessee's oldest town, and wave to everyone!
HAPPY FALL Y'ALL.
💬 UNREAD MESSAGE (1): I received a text one evening from my best friend since the third grade that read something like, "We should go on a road trip somewhere next week like that one time in high school when we told our parents we were sleeping over at each other's houses and snuck off to the beach."
Girls Just wanna have fun.
The Art Loeb Trail had been on my bucket list for almost 10 years and was falling further down the list collecting dust. My best friend was hungry for a 20-something adventure, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity and person to embark on 30-some miles with. And thus, we set out on a mission to complete 30 miles before we turn 30.
Just a Couple Ladies & Their Packs
"We loaded up our packs with three days of food and opted to keep it simple with all dry stock- Clif Bars, protein shakes, gummies, energy packs, and peanut butter. Meg brought a water filter and CamelBak, and I started out with three and a half full Nalgene water bottles (I borrowed my daughter's mini bottle which was handy to carabiner for quick access).
DAY ONE: Davidson Campground to Cedar Rock Mountain
We juggled which direction we wanted to trek Art Loeb, North to South or South to North. The weather indicated it was going to begin raining around 2:00 pm on Day One. We headed out the door around 6:30 am with a few hours drive and dropped the vehicles off at each location. We decided to hike the trail South to North, saving the best views for last.
Meg got a rental car, and we dropped my truck off at the Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp after swinging by a drive thru for coffees and donuts. She had mentioned getting a map a couple weeks before our adventure and I, with my last minute planning, realized we definitely needed one the night before. After reading up on the wilderness section of the trail, I knew Meg was right about a map and hoped we'd be able to find one in the morning near the Davidson River Campground trailhead, where we would begin our journey.
After crossing a bridge, we were met with a detour sign immediately leading us up a forest service road that ran parallel to Art Loeb. Meg was tracking our journey on the AllTrails map and saw that we were still close to the actual trail but winding up and around the mountain following the detour signs.
Photo By: Megan Burnette
We hiked a few miles on the forest service road and found the official trail. Shortly after, the rain found us and the stoke was high! We broke out our emergency ponchos and rain gear and kept on hiking further into the woods with pep in our step. We had gotten a later start than anticipated after stopping into The Hub earlier to grab a Nat Geo Pisgah Ranger District Map- which I would say was essential for this trip. The mileage was catching up to us as dusk was setting in. We came up on something large, white, and shiny. I studied the mysterious object camouflaged by the woods, and Meg suggested it could be a hidden waste plant or some kind of underground facility. Then we thought it was like a large, actually humongous stretch of plastic preventing trail erosion or something. As we got closer, the object that came into view was in fact a massive wet rock face that turned out to be Cedar Rock Mountain- our magical basecamp on Night One in the Pisgah National Forest.
If you are a glutton for punishment you will enjoy every steep step up Pilot Mountain.
We stocked up on water which was a mini adventure on its own and made sure our reserves were filled. With all of the rain, the creeks were flowin'! We crossed through Butter Gap and up and over Chesnut Mountain. After coming down from what I believe was Rich Mountain, the trail started with a mini staircase that lead right into the climb up Pilot. We hiked over the first section, eyeing down potential camps for the night. The climb surrendered at a faux summit where there was an ideal camping spot tucked away in the trees.
EST MILEAGE: 8.7 MILES
BASECAMP: PILOT MOUNTAIN
DAY THREE: PILOT MOUNTAIN to FLOWER GAP
SHINING ROCK WILDERNESS
EST MILEAGE: 8.7 MILES
BASECAMP: Flower Gap
DAY FOUR: Flower Gap TO Camp Daniel Boone
EST MILEAGE: 9+ MILES
BASECAMP: Daniel Boone
The Dirty 30: Backpacking the Art Loeb Trail with My Best Friend, 2020
START ELEVATION: 2,150 FT
END ELEVATION: 3,222 FT
HIGHEST POINT: 6,214 FT
TOTAL TRIP ELEVATION GAIN: 3,000 FT
ESTIMATED TOTAL MILEAGE: 36.4
DAYS ON TRAIL: 4
*Shout-out to Ranger John & Anthony the mobile mechanic*
Traveler. Writer. Mom.
Great Adventurer of Life.