Alarge group of local residents gather for a photo during the First Day Hike event on New Year’s Day.

By Jill Penley

County Mayor Mike Taylor led a group of nearly 40 residents on a hike to celebrate the new year at Doe Mountain Recreation Area. The group, consisting of men and women of all ages, embarked from the adventure center being led by Mayor Taylor and Doe Mountain Recreation Authority Executive Director Tate Davis under partly cloudy skies and unusually warm temperatures at nearly 60 degrees. “Great way to start the New Year,” remarked Taylor. “I couldn’t think of a better place to enjoy the great outdoors.” Upon return, the group was treated to hot chocolate, coffee, and cider. Several door prizes, including Johnson County Farmers Market and local merchant gift cards, were also awarded.
Dubbed “First Day Hike,” the event was organized by the Johnson County Farmers Market in conjunction with the Johnson County Health Department and GoJoCo Healthier Johnson County Initiative. The route covered portions of new non-motorized trails recently funded from a Tennessee Asset-Based Development (ABD) Grant obtained by the Johnson County government. “The ABD grant funded two bridges, three segments of non-motorized trails, some additional picnicking areas and a canopy-level viewing platform overlooking Doe Valley,” explained Davis. “In early Spring 2019, DMRA plans to build a moderate hiking/biking trail extending almost four miles from the Harbin Hill Adventure Center to the historic Kettlefoot Fire Lookout Tower atop Doe Mountain,” Davis reports structural rehabilitation of the 60-foot lookout
tower was completed in December with final cosmetic work expected to be completed before this
summer. “Very few fire lookout towers have been preserved,” said Davis, “and the fact that DMRA has been able to open Kettlefoot to visitors is a testimony to the foresight of our state and local leadership and their strong commitment to enhancing adventure tourism opportunities in scenic Johnson County.”
With the number of visitors continuing to grow at Doe Mountain, DMRA expects to complete several other projects in advance of spring and warmer weather. When finished, Doe Mountain’s non-motorized trail system will feature a challenging route over rugged terrain for advanced hikers and a moderate route for less-experienced day trippers.
Visitors are invited to bring their ATV, UTV, dirt bike, or walking stick to enjoy and explore the 8,600 acres of rugged wilderness in the scenic heart of the Appalachian Mountains, featuring over 60 miles of multi-use recreational trails.