Plans for mountain biking, hiking trail expansion project at Hampton Watershed

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HAMPTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – Plans are in the works to expand mountain biking and hiking trails at the Hampton Watershed. 

The City of Elizabethton, the Elizabethton Parks and Rec Department, the Carter County Parks and Rec Department and the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (SORBA) are partnering together to make this expansion a reality.

“It would really be such a great advantage for bikers in this area in Northeast Tennessee and then also outside of our region to come here and enjoy this natural setting that is just gorgeous,” said Mike Mains, Elizabethton Parks and Rec Director.

It’s a project that’s been in the works since 2018, when the City of Elizabethton purchased a 78-acre piece of property above the current stacked-loop trail system.

Plans could also include an additional adjacent property that is part of Doe River Gorge Ministries.

A look at the proposed trail expansion. Doe River Gorge Ministries property falls within the green lines. Credit: SORBA

“It would basically almost get us to the top of Cedar Mountain which would give us that 13 hundred feet of elevation, some awesome views and also give us the ability to connect into the National Forest that is adjacent to that property, with the maybe the future potential of expanding that trail system all the way to Dennis Cove,” said Wesley Bradley of SORBA Tri-Cities.

The multi-use trail system would be more than ten miles and encompass about 300 acres of land.

Bradley said the parties involved are also considering a skills area near the trail system entrance that would include a pump track double the size of the one at Tannery Knobs in Johnson City.

Conceptual design for Hampton Watershed pump track.
Credit: SORBA

The plan would be to hire a professional design company construct the trails.

Bradley said they have applied for several grants. The trail expansion and pump track would cost around $250,000 dollars each.

“The funding that we have available to us is very limited, so we are going to be going back to the government and also to a number of private sources to see if we can raise the money to get it done,” said Ken Gough, Carter County Parks and Rec Board Chairman.

Bradley says if the city can work the trail expansion into their budget this year, construction could start sometime in the spring or summer.

However, he says that would require extensive work from all parties involved in a short amount of time.

“The partnership with the city and the county, and hopefully Doe River Gorge,” he said, “I think would forge a great relationship in our community and give us a great asset for all of our community members and be a regional tourism draw.”

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