Community celebrates Roan Mountain ATC designation

Published 6:23 pm Monday, April 24, 2017

It’s official!

Roan Mountain is now the 41st “Appalachian Trail Community” as designated by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

On Monday afternoon, local leaders, community members, ATC representatives, business owners, and even some through hikers passing through town gathered at the Roan Mountain Community Park to celebrate the designation. Appalachian Trail Conservancy Director Morgan Sommerville, Roan Mountain Citizens Club President Brian Tipton, and Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey signed the documents to make the designation official in front of the gathered crowd.

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“Today, we celebrate the official designation of Roan Mountain as the newest Appalachian Trail Community in Tennessee,” Sommerville said.

The only other designated Appalachian Trail Community in the state is Unicoi County.

“This program is designed to serve as a network for communities along the trail,” Sommerville said, adding it helps both the communities market themselves to hikers but also helps those hiking the trail find communities to visit where they can rest and resupply.

Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey praised the hard work of Roan Mountain residents and businesses in securing the designation and thanked the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for recognizing Carter County.

“If not for your efforts, this never would have happened,” Humphrey said as he spoke to those gathered. “Carter County is deeply honored to have Roan Mountain proclaimed and designated as an Appalachian Trail Community by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. We thank the Conservancy for the designation. It’s important.”

Roan Mountain State Park Manager J.R. Tinch was one of the key people in getting the project underway for the designation.

“This was one of those projects that you just know is meant to be,” Tinch said. “We know how beautiful and how special Roan Mountain is, and it’s our backyard.”

The Roan Mountain Citizens Club served as the sponsor for the Appalachian Trail Community project to garner the designation.

“There is a saying that ‘All trails lead to Roan Mountain,’” Club President Brian Tipton said.

As he spoke, Tipton mentioned the Overmountain Victory Trail which a group of patriots marched from Sycamore Shoals through Roan Mountain and on to the Battle of Kings Mountain during the American Revolution. The East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad (locally known as the “Tweetsie”) blazed its own trail through the community linking Roan Mountain to Johnson City, Tenn., and Cranberry, N.C.

Now, the Appalachian Trail passes through Roan Mountain.

“We’re glad your journey has found its way to Roan Mountain,” Tipton told those in attendance.

Local hostel owner and Appalachian Trail legend Bob Peoples spoke about the history of the Appalachian Trail in Carter County and how Roan Mountain has changed over the years to bring the hikers into the community.

Twenty years ago, when a hiker came off the trail onto Highway 19E, they didn’t turn to come into Roan Mountain, People said. Those hikers went the other direction into Elk Park, N.C., because that was where the camping areas, hostels, hotels, and restaurants were. Over the years, things changed and now the hikers not only come to Roan Mountain, but they also look forward to it as a destination along their journey, he said.

“Everyone worked together to make this happen,” Peoples said.

While Monday marked the official designation, the Roan Mountain community is planning a special multi-day celebration to hold the community’s inaugural “Trail Festival on the first weekend of May. More information will be released on the Trail Festival in the coming days.