Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Johnson County Trails Association moving forward with Laurel Creek Trail

If members of the Johnson County Trails Association (JCTA) have their way, there will be plenty of cyclists, equestrians and hikers enjoying the gorgeous natural beauty of the area in the very near future. JCTA members Howard and Linda Moon organized an information session at the head of the new Laurel Creek Trail and presented the plans of the association and the financial needs required to see it become reality.
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Rep. Scotty Campbell, State Treasurer David H. Lillard, Jr., Matt Johnson, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Asst. Director over Staff Operations, Susan Whitaker, Tourism Commissioner for the state of Tennessee, and Allen Borden, Northeast Tennessee regional director for the state economic and community development department were on hand to learn of the plans and needs for further development of this trail.
“The Trails Association is funded to purchase easement for future trails, explained Moon, “and plans attempt to do so within the next 12 to 15 months.”
Several community leaders from Damascus and Abingdon, Virginia were also present to explain the tremendous impact the Virginia Creeper Trail continues to have on the region. Mark K. Reeter, Washington County, Virginia, County Administrator explained the management of the Virginia Creeper Trail. “An advisory committee is responsible for the trail,” he said. “Washington County, proper, does not have any ownership per se to the Virginia Creeper Trail.” He recommended the formation of an advisory committee for the Laurel Creek Trail and voiced his excitement regarding the possibility of “closing the gap” and adjoining the two trails in the near future.
“Over the past ten years, we have established relationships with all the parties now overseeing the Virginia Creeper Trail,” said Moon. “There is certainly value to this from the Virginia side.” Due to the tremendous popularity of the Creeper Trail, crowds frequently congest the trail especially in the spring and fall, when weather conditions are perfect for bike riding and hiking. Additionally, some enthusiasts have enjoyed the trail numerous times and would enjoy something different.
After spending several years in the planning stage, the trails association finally broke ground on development of the Laurel Creek Trail near Laurel Bloomery at Camp Ahistadi in the spring of 2008. JCTA, a group formed from a community meeting on the subject of ‘economic revitalization’ met in October of 2001, and began to frame a vision of a countywide system of recreational trails providing access to natural areas and connecting communities. The Committee filed for non-profit corporation status in 2003 and thus became the Johnson County Trails Association with the mission to develop, promote, and maintain trails in Johnson County. JCTA believes a trail network will promote healthy recreation, economic revitalization, alternative transportation, and responsible stewardship of our natural resources. The Laurel Creek Trail is the first visual progress in this effort. It is to be a stand-alone, showcase trail, eventually connecting with the renowned Virginia Creeper Trail.
Over the years the organization partnered with two National Forests, Cherokee and George Washington/Jefferson, in two states to secure approval to develop the trail, the first segment of which is almost entirely within the National Forest. Funding was sought from both private and public sources. To date, JCTA is proud to claim the following financial partners in this effort: Tennessee Parks & Greenways Foundation, National Forest Foundation, TVA, Johnson County Government, TN Healthcare Association, State of TN (RTP Grant), US Government (HPP Grant), Johnson County Community Foundation, Bikes Belong, Kodak American Greenways Awards Program, and several private citizens. In addition, in-kind support is being provided by the town of Mountain City thru equipment use and the Northeast Correctional Center by way of a workforce.
“We are in a position to offer a wide variety of helpful activities to citizens of this community who are interested,” said JCTA President, Howard Moon.
Over a hundred years ago, much of the route of the Laurel Creek Trail was used as wagon and rail transportation for people and goods, enhancing the region’s economy and quality of life. The Johnson County Trails Association has that same vision of enhancement, and hopefully will, with the help of local and state officials, see it come to fruition.
For more information regarding the Laurel Creek Trail, or to inquire as to specific assistance needed, contact JCTA by email [email protected]