APPALACHIAN HIGHLANDS (July 28th, 2021) — The sense of community in and around The Appalachian Highlands is growing. With an influx of mountain biking trails, persevering small business owners, and enthusiastic local entrepreneurs, it's no surprise that folks are flocking to Northeast Tennessee! And while us locals deeply cherish our best kept secret spots, it's refreshing to feel a part of something bigger than ourselves!
The MTB Culture
The Appalachian Highlands is packed with mountain adventuring opportunities! Surrounded by national forests and full of state parks, the accessibility to hiking and mountain biking trails is endless in every direction. Johnson City boasts ample access to after-work trails from Buffalo Mountain, Tannery Knobs, and Winged Deer Park. Weekend trips and full bike days can be extended out to Pisgah, leaving countless miles of trails in-between. The access to mountain biking in our backyard unites families, tourists, volunteers, and the general public.
Mountain Biking (mtb) has contributed to the overall feeling of community in our area. The sport helps riders grow confidence, have fun, volunteer, and make new friends! Mountain Bikers fight to protect, expand, and build new trails. The mtb culture has sparked a fire in Johnson City, Erwin, and Hampton. Trek kicked off July with their monthly summer Taco Trek Ride and brought the entire community out to ride the streets together.
Recently, the community came together to fight for The Hampton Watershed trails expansion project, now backed by Carter County. Both the city and county have joined forces on this project, giving the entire community a sense of unity and growth. Brian Keith, who has consistently nurtured and maintained the Hampton trails, has kept the community informed and stoked on how to advocate for the Watershed project. It goes to show how one passionate member of a micro-culture like mountain biking can inspire the entire community leading to growth for all.
And check out plans for the Unicoi Mountain Bike Park!
The growth and rejuvenation of Tennessee's downtown areas is exciting and marvelous- there's no other way to put it. Jerome Bowers, owner of Crystal Raven in Downtown Jonesborough, discusses the importance of community and how their small business has been backed by locals and tourists alike.
Other areas on the rise: Rogersville, Tenn.
Our region, specifically in Johnson City, has become home to a very special group of out-of-the-box thinkers. Founders Forge helps startups along their entrepreneurial journey within the community. They provide coaching, workshops, and a supportive group of independent thinkers who have come together to bring new ideas to The Appalachian Highlands. David Nelson and his team of giants, fight for the underdog and provide a safe space to idea pitch and "run with it." Founders Forge hosts the annual Pitchers and Pitches event (the region's largest open pitch competition event), where aspiring entrepreneurs come out to the local ball field to pitch their ideas for prizes and potential investors.
FytFeed, founded by JC locals Dennis Ashford and Katie Houston, has a vision to "Make the world active through community." They are building the FytFeed platform to promote healthy living based around an encouraging community. Follow their Instagram page here to stay up to date on the official release of the FytFeed app, where friendly competition is encouraged! #ynot
Our community is growing! To promote the outdoors our region has to offer, don't forget the annual Meet the Mountains Festival is right around the corner. If you're interested in volunteering, you can sign up here.
Adventure Pickle Promotes adventure & conservation news! Send us a message about how you or your business is making the world a better place.
The rain season is upon us in Northeast Tennessee which means spring is right around the corner! Rivers are flowing, waterfalls are overflowing, lakes are filling up, and everything is turning green with vibrant life. Pisces season runs through March 20th and invites inner reflection with the last month of winter and transition into spring.
Tennessee is experiencing spurts of 60 & 70 degree days, as we come out of the pandemic winter months. Soak up some Vitamin D rays, and make the most of this warmer weather even if it means chasing waterfalls on a rainy day. And it's okay to stick to the rivers and lakes that you're used to.
From local favorites to hidden gems, Northeast Tennessee is filled with adventures leading to waterfalls. Depending on the rainfall, these falls can seem totally different throughout the seasons. Winter brings ice, and springtime brings the laurel leaves to life as their green ambience encompasses the beautiful flow of these heavenly falls.
See one, see many, see them all. Bag these waterfalls in a day or two, and keep the trails clean so everyone can enjoy them.
Watauga Lake is surrounded by rolling mountains and sections of the Appalachian Trail. It makes for a great day of paddling and fishing, along with seasonal camping at select pull-offs. There are several great swimming spots for families and leashed pets, offering pristine lake views and boating marinas for rentals and lunch.
South Holston Lake is a 7,580 acre lake operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and runs from Tennessee into Virginia. Fly fishing is super popular below the dam in the shallow areas of the river, and boaters float above in the resorvoir. For what it's worth, this is the third-largest earthen dam in the world, composed of massive earth and rock. 60% of the shoreline is bordered by the Cherokee National Forest offering a mecca of hiking and recreation opportunities.
Boone Lake is a warm weather haven for disc golfers, mountain bikers, boaters, and marina goers. With access points at Winged Deer Park, this makes for a great day spent in the park having lunch by the lake or dipping your feet in after a mountain bike ride across the street.
The Nolichucky River flows from Western North Carolina into Tennessee. Most recently, the Noli was running water levels straddling 2,000- 3,000 cfs. This river is peaceful and fierce with big-splash rapids like Jaws & Quarter Mile on the upper and Radio Tower on the lower. Reserve a guided trip with the local USA Raft Adventure Resort and spend some time social distancing in nature this spring and summer.
Pack a picnic at Big Rock or dust off the camper and stay at a site by the river near Jonesborough. With plenty of hiking, kayaking, and adventure in the mountains all around you~ once you get outside, you'll be happy you did.
"More days like this, please." - Dobby Grace, while fetching stick on the Nolichucky.
Please practice Leave No Trace ethics when visiting public recreation areas, like our trailheads, lakes, and rivers. Check out Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association's "Leaders for a Litter-Free Tennessee" here on how community locals are making a difference to preserve outdoor recreation.
Fly fish the Watauga River in Elizabethton.
Whitewater at Doe River .
Know your limits, and hire a guide when necessary.
Elwood's Hatchet House & Tavern is Boone's "first & only indoor Axe Throwing Tavern." Shannon, the owner, greets guests with a warm welcome while teaching proper axe-throwing skills to newbies, like myself. This makes for a fun and safe activity to get out of the house while still practicing Covid-safe measures during these times.
Elwood's Hatchet House & Tavern
I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Shannon about the detours of opening a business during 2020. While it has been a struggle, she is pushing through with local support and navigating these times in style and safety. Elwood's practices Covid-safety measures by sanitizing axe handles, tables, and seating between groups and enforcing masks when outside your specified seated area and throwing lane. Hand sanitizer is provided, and all employees will be wearing masks at all times. Elwood's Hatchet House is currently opened Friday- Sunday by reservations.
Traveler. Writer. Mom.