Parks and Recreation announces plans for trail expansion at Hampton Watershed

Published 9:29 am Friday, January 24, 2020

Elizabethton Parks and Recreation announced it is working on expanding the trail system at the Hampton watershed, a project that will almost triple the total trail length.

Director Mike Mains said the project comes after a partnership with the Carter County Parks and Recreation Board, who donated towards conducting a trail study on the area.

“There is 3.5 miles of trail there right now,” Mains said. “We can get up to 10.5 miles of new trails.”

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The expansion is a big deal, he said, because it allows the city to better capitalize on protected land that showcases the natural beauty of Carter County.

“We are excited,” he said. “It is a big win for the city and county. It benefits all of us.”

Wesley Bradley, Trail Liaison for SOBRA, said the trail expansion plans right now could get mountain bikers all the way up to Cedar Mountain.

“This will be one of the biggest mountain bike trail systems in the area,” Bradley said. “It will become a big regional draw.”

The plans include two brand new trails, as well as two expansions and longer loops off existing trails. These trails will vary in difficulty for many different skill levels.

The expansion comes after the city purchased 78 acres of adjacent property. With its location, Bradley said the city could now partner with Doe River Gorge.

“This is something we are very excited about,” Mains said. “Yes, there will be some expense, but not as much as building a new facility.”

Mains said there is no ETA on a completion date or even a start date on the project just yet, as details are still finalizing about where the trails will do and how it will be funded.

“We are doing everything we can do to make activities people will enjoy,” he said. “We have already done the new signage.”

The Hampton Watershed, Bradley said, supplies about 60 percent of the county’s water, so adding more trails is a great way to capitalize on the region’s natural resources while not endangering anything going on there.

“The water that comes out of there is unbelievable,” Mains said.

Mains said he wanted to thank Johann Coetzee, director of engineering for the city, for his work towards this project.