Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park: A century in the making

Tri-Cities Original

It’s like a small mountain in the middle of downtown Johnson City. And now, it’s the city’s newest public park. 

Tannery Knobs is a mountain biker’s paradise. 

Named for the leather making businesses that once sat there about century ago, city planners recognized the location’s potential. Tannery Knobs was a great place for a city mountain bike park. 

“It only took almost 100 years, but we’ve turned that into reality,” said Mayor Jenny Brock. Even though Brock grew up there, she had never been to the top. 

Jenny Brock, Mayor of Johnson City (Photo: WJHL)

“It was breathtaking. This was a view I didn’t know we had in Johnson City,” she said.”When you’re up here you think you are up in the mountains and you are but still you are almost in the city center.”

But for decades, Tannery Knobs was private property. In fact, it was the site of WJHL’s first transmitter, which allowed the station to become the first in Northeast Tennessee.

The original WJHL transmitter and tower (right) on Tannery Knobs. 

Many years later, in 2013, developer Grant Summer bought the property and had an idea. 

His offer: if the city would build the trails, he’d donate the land. 

A mountain bike trail at Tannery Knobs. (Photo: WJHL)

Mayor Brock said the deal was too good to pass up. 

“First and foremost it’s an opportunity for our own citizens and particularly our young people to find a new activity in this area,” the mayor said. 

Meanwhile, mountain bikers like Mark Upton with the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association, or SORBA, say the new park is already creating a buzz in the mountain biking world. 

Mark Upton with the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association ( SORBA ) (Photo: WJHL)

“It’s huge,” Upton said. “There’s a tremendous amount of interest in what’s happening here.”

Regarding the track’s “pump track,” Upton says Tannery Knobs is one of the first parks in the country to have one like it. 

The city held a ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony for the park on June 14.

The trails are color-coded: green for easy, blue for intermediate, and black for advanced. 

Mayor Brock says she wants this to become more than just a park. 

“We want to be the Mountain Bike Mecca of the South,” she said. “And I think we can do that.”

For more information about the park, visit www.ridetk.com.

Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock and News Channel 11’s Josh Smith share a fist bump after a mountain bike ride at the new Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park in Johnson City, Tenn. (Photo: WJHL)

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Born and raised in the Tri-Cities, Josh Smith has been a member of the WJHL team since 1999. His family roots go deep in the region, and he’s traveled through almost every part of it covering news on local TV since 1995. When he’s not on the job, he’s with his wife, two sons, and daughter.   “They’re the best part of me,” he said.   You may run into them biking on the Tweetsie Trail, hiking around Bays Mountain Lake, or browsing the shelves at the local public libraries.

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