A feasibility study is in the works for potential bike trails at Buffalo Mountain Park in Johnson City. The $19,000 study is aimed at helping develop a conceptual plan for the possible trails.
Trail solutions, International Mountain Bicycling Association has been authorized to conduct the study.
This comes after the recent completion of Tannery Knobs bike park.
“There’s a lot of untapped potential at Buffalo City Park,” said Marc Upton, President of Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association.
Upton said he has seen Buffalo Mountain as a spot for potential mountain bike trails since he moved to the Tri-Cities in 2008.
Now, with a study being conducted by the IMBA, those trails could become a reality.
“What it’s going to do is create a hard document that we can take,” he said, “show to different stakeholders, fundraisers, city officials, Parks and Rec and really use that to kick off a bigger planning strategy and really make sure that this park gets everything that it can be.”
Parks and Rec Intertim Assistant Director Jim Hughes said Buffalo Mountain Park could be a source of additional revenue for the area with the addition of new mountain biking trails.
“We got over 700 acres here at Buffalo Mountain Park,” said Hughes, “which is also the gateway to the Cherokee National Forest which opens up for thousands of acres of potential biking, hiking trails all the way down toward Gatlinburg and even Knoxville.”
To develop the conceptual plan, the IMBA will visit Buffalo Mountain to review the existing property to look at trail development areas as well as trail connections.
There will also be public meetings to discuss adding the biking trails.
After this, IMBA will develop a report discussing the project site, rider experience goals and next steps.
Hughes said if new trails are put in place, it could lead to even bigger expansion down the road, based on talks with the Southern Offroad Bicycle Association.
“They’ve been in conversations with the National Forestry Service and with our local and state units to look at one big massive plan too,” he said, “that once this is done on our part, then there will probably be work done on the state level and national level.”
Hughes says a conceptual plan is expected to be completed and submitted to the city by December of 2019 or early next year.