This ride combines great sections of trail located right in the heart of Johnson City on the campus of ETSU. They are open to anyone, not just students.
This featured ride is the typical XC loop that is just a bit below six miles long. The terrain is rolling with some short climbs and fun downhills. The trails have plenty of rocks and roots to keep things interesting and also have a few small rock drops thrown in at a couple places, but all the rock drops do have ride-arounds.
The trails snake their way around the property so there are many cut-throughs that allow you to skip sections, but keep an eye out, as some of these can cause some confusion your first time out.
Like most trails, these are multi-use so watch for runners. After most storms, things get cleaned up pretty quickly. The trails drain well so they are rideable shortly after rains. Also if you want to join some locals, there is a weekly ride on Thursday nights that leaves from a brewpub downtown and makes a lap and then heads back for after-ride refreshments!
The trailhead for these trails is at the parking lot right after you cross under the train tracks coming from the main part of campus. There is also a trail map and kiosk here with more info on the trails.
Start this ride by climbing up the upper parking lot and then crossing the main road onto Treasure Lane. Shortly after, there will be a dumpster on your left. Cut behind it and then head up towards the woods where you'll see the start of the Water Tower Trail
This singletrack starts with a climb up some switchbacks and then continues to go up and down until you come to a long downhill that empties into a small field. An old 4cross course used to come down the field and end at this point but it is pretty grown over now.
Continue across the field back into the woods where the trail will start to climb again. The trail will eventually split and you'll take a left onto Cades Cove Trail
. This trail cuts back and forth, descending, and then climbs a small ridge, which at the top will split and hang left onto the start of the Buc Ridge Trail
. This trail quickly comes out behind some apartments.
Follow the Buc Ridge Trail
until it turns back into the woods, for another steep descent and climb where you'll come out into a large field. From here, you can circle around the field on an old short track trail that can just barely be picked out or take the more direct route back to the parking lot via the road to the right. Either choice will take you back to the large upper parking lot right above the trailhead.
At the trailhead, you'll now jump back into the woods onto The Heights Trail
and take a left and continue climbing until you come out at a gravel road right below the water tower. Jump right back onto the trail to the right and continue on for a fun downhill. The trail will split right after the first pitch, take a left and then immediately take a right. The trail will then continue to descend.
At the bottom, hang a left and then cut across an old road where mulch piles are usually stored. The trail will pick up on the other side and hang a left and climb back up until you run into the gravel road again.
As soon as you come out on the gravel, hang a right and the trail will continue on for a couple more climbs and descents. At the bottom of the second descent, you'll cross the old road again and start a short climb back into the woods. Continue on until you can take a left up a short, steep climb. At the top of this, you'll come out onto the bottom of the The Heights Downhill
Course that starts up at the watertower. Turn left here and you'll be able to take in the last couple drops of the downhill trail and if you are brave enough the big gap jump at the bottom.
Now the trail follows a section of doubletrack with a few short sections of singletrack that cut off to the left and right until you pop back out of the woods at the trailhead parking lot. This is just the typical XC lap but there are tons of cut-throughs so you can mix it up and ride any length you want.