SHADY VALLEY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Highlighted as one of the few on the nearly 2,200-mile-long Appalachian Trail, this short stretch of farmland is an ADA compliant portion of the trail. Known as Osborne Farm, this hike can be found on the border of Carter and Johnson counties.
If drivers are coming from Elizabethton, they can find the hike down Route 91, otherwise known as Stoney Creek Road, where they’ll travel for a little under 20 miles until they run into a well-marked parking area. From Bristol, drivers should take Hwy 421. You will have to cross the road to get to the trail, unless you are using the handicap-accessible parking lot.
For a trail to be considered ADA compliant, there are a few things that must be considered.
“It really comes down to a couple of things,” Keith Kelley, the district ranger over the Watauga Ranger District, said. “Having a hard surface and also having a certain percentage of grade — you have to meet those requirements for it to be ADA compliant.”
Once hikers set off on the trail, they’ll notice that they have to get through a “Horse and Cattle proof” gate.
“One of the interesting parts about this part of the trail is that we still actively run cattle,” Kelley explained. “They’re out here most of the time during the summer…you’ll see them often.”
Originally owned by a single family, Osborne Farm is now open to all.
“The forest service purchased (the land) in about 2001 from the Appalachian Trail Conference, which is now the Appalachian Trail Conversancy, and it’s a 250-acre parcel of land that was owned by the Osborne family,” Kelley said. “Most of it is open like this….as the typical cattle farm and we still use cattle to keep it open to this day.”
Only about 0.6 miles into the hike, hikers will come across a large bench overlooking the mountains, signaling the end of this ADA accessible portion of the Appalachian Trail.
“The hard surface stops here — pretty sure you have to cross a fence line, and then that’s not accessible anymore, and then the Appalachian Trail goes back into the woods, goes north on Holston Mountain Ridge and heads to Damascus,” Kelley said.
And that’s not all you can see. From that spot on the bench, Kelley said you can see so much more. Watch the full Trail Team 11 above to see what mountain ranges you should keep an eye out for.
Once upon Osborne Farm, feel no need to rush. With the mostly flat land, you are more than welcome to picnic, lounge or even camp with the cattle.
“It’s the perfect spot”, Kelley said. “It’s easy to get to. Little curvy of a road to get up to it, but it’s gorgeous up here and the views are…I don’t know how you could do much better.”