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New plans for moving Doe Mountain forward

Willie Hammons, Commissioner Kevin Triplett, the commissioner for Tennessee Development of Tourism and Tate Davis address the future of tourism in Johnson County

By Tate Davis

Doe Mountain Executive Director

Commissioner Kevin Triplett and Dave Jones of the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development visited the Doe Mountain Adventure Center on Harbin Hill Road Friday morning to discuss the next steps in building Doe Mountain into a world-class wilderness adventure destination. State Senator Jon Lundberg and Representative Timothy Hill joined the delegation, underscoring the importance of the project to the State of Tennessee. Discussions focused on marketing the trail system, which currently has more than 50 miles of trails and funding for additional expansion next year.
The Friday meeting followed fast on the heels of the Johnson County Commissioners transferring land to the Doe Mountain Recreation Authority (DMRA) for permanent restroom facilities at the Harbin Hill Trailhead the previous evening. Restroom construction had become critical with the increasing number of visitors to Doe Mountain. The Authority plans to break ground on that project and begin refurbishing the historic Kettlefoot Fire Lookout Tower, high atop Doe Mountain, over the next several months. A grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission will fund much of the work, which will be complemented by a new hiking and biking trail climbing more than 1,200 feet from the Adventure Center to the tower on the summit of Kettlefoot Peak.
DMRA officials Frank Arnold, Dennis Shekinah, Chairman Willie Hammons and Executive Director Tate Davis were eager to discuss improving the Doe Mountain project. In late October, the Authority added single track Trail M1 and opened the newly reconstructed Trail 15, linking Harbin Hill with the Pioneer Village Shopping Center in Mountain City. The new Trail 15 makes it much easier for visitors to reach Pioneer Village for food and fuel. Moving forward, the Authority plans on immediately ratcheting up marketing, particularly in North Carolina, source of well over half of Doe Mountain’s visitors. DMRA also hopes to spur investment in adventure tourism businesses, such as bike and ATV rental shops, catering to the growing tourist traffic.