Trail Team 11: Exploring the new ‘Sunset Point’ on Buffalo Mountain

Trail Team 11

Johnson City, Tenn. (WJHL) – While the region of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia has plenty of hiking options for you to enjoy, it can be hard for parents for find a hike the whole family can go on. That is why the addition of the new Sunset Point on Buffalo Mountain is a welcomed trek for many. Less than a mile round trip, this hike includes little to no steep inclines and a beautiful view at the end.

Connie Deegan has been working with Buffalo Mountain City Park for eight years now and says she finds “this hike really straightforward and pretty easy. You can bring little kids on this hike. You will run into a couple areas with some roots and rocks, so you have to watch your foot placement, but there’s no crazy steep uphill. In fact, the steepest it is is right in the beginning, and then it’s kind of a literal cakewalk to the end. It’s easy, it’s fun.”

To find the new Sunset Point, Connie says you’ll want to start at the Upper Parking lot, and take the trail toward Huckleberry Knob. While you’re on the trails, make sure to watch where you step as critters cross the trail.

“It’s like a big, giant nature preserve. It’s part of Cherokee National Forest,” said Deegan. “So there’s a lot of critters who utilize this area and come and go. It’s part of a bigger piece.”

On your way up to Sunset Point, you’ll hit a point where the trail forks. You can go right to head to Huckleberry Knob, but to find Sunset Point, you’ll head left and follow the white blaze, which takes you on the White Rock Loop trail. From this fork, it’s only about 2/10ths of a mile to your overlook spot.

One of the neat things about this hike is that it’s on Buffalo Mountain, which means for those in Johnson City, it’s a quick drive to get to the trailhead.

“One of the coolest parts about this park is that it’s in the city, and to me, it’s like hiking a baby AT,” Deegan said. “Single file, backcountry trail. You can get a really good workout in this park.”

While hiking that last little part of the trail, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled as the spur trail off the white trail comes and goes quickly. Connie says you should look for a makeshift bench in one of the trees. You’ll pass that, some Mountain Laurel and ferns, and then you’re at the new Sunset Point.

“There’s a nice bench to sit on, there’s a beautiful view and you can imagine a beautiful sunset on top of that. You can see some old burned trees that are left standing from the 2008 fire, that’s really why below us this area is cleared out,” explains Deegan.

However, just because it’s called Sunset Point doesn’t mean you can stay through sunset, especially with the longer summer days.

“The park closes at 9 o’clock, and we’ll close the gate. So people need to be aware of that,” Deegan said.

While you’re enjoying Sunset Point, make sure to check out the blueberries that you’re allowed to snack on! However, Connie says to be cautious all the same.

“You always have to be careful where you pick when you’re out in the woods,” Deegan said. “We don’t use any chemicals in this park, and you need to consider that.”

Before your hike is through, check out the park’s latest sign additions. They all feature a QR code that will take you to a map of the park, and if you’re lost, check out the number on the back.

“Johnson City police have it, EMS, fire, I have it and if they call and are just like look ‘I just have to get out of here, I really don’t know quite how to get down in the quickest way.’ I’ll say go look at the sign. They’ll say ‘great, I’m at sign number 16,’ and I’ll know exactly where they are in the park and how to get out,” Deegan said. “It’s already been utilized three times and with great success. One injury and two lost hikers.”

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