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State now marketing Tannery Knobs Bike Park to tourists

Zach Vance • May 7, 2018 at 7:37 PM

While it’s not yet open to the general public, Johnson City’s Tannery Knobs Bike Park is already listed as one of the “4 beautiful places to mountain bike in Tennessee” by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. 

In anticipation of the park’s opening this summer, state tourism officials describe Johnson City’s newest amentity as more of a playground rather than a trail network. 

“Designed by the renowned IMBA Trail Solutions and spanning more than 40 acres, Tannery Knobs accommodates both beginner and advanced riders in an exciting off-road environment,” the article states. 

“Its variety of terrain, trails and obstacles make it feel more like a playground for riders than a trail network. Tannery Knobs also boasts some incredible mountain views throughout the park and is only a short ride away from plenty of shops, restaurants and entertainment in historic Johnson City.”

Mountain biking is viewed by many state and local officials as a growing industry that could boost visitation rates and tourism revenues.

A market analysis conducted by research firm Technavio predicts the global mountain bike market will have a compound growth rate of 9.84 percent between 2017 and 2021. 

The report also notes mountain biking tourism can often act as a catalyst for economic development.

“Mountain bike tourism helps to bring in revenue for the host community and region. People travel various destinations around the world to experience mountain biking,” the report concludes.

Tennessee Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett is hopeful mountain biking tourism in the state will generate the same interest it has in Oregon, where cycling tourism provides an estimated $400 million-a-year economic impact. 

“Some of our most beautiful areas often happen to be rural areas. That allows our communities to take advantage of what Mother Nature has given us to provide bikers an experience of the incredible quality of our outdoors from the back of a bike,” Triplett said in a statement to the Johnson City Press. 

“Whether it is a natural path like some of the state’s mountain trails or repurposing underutilized real estate like the Tannery Knobs project, the options are varied and growing all the time. It not only is a fun way to experience our beauty but a healthy way too. ... There is no reason with Tennessee’s assets we cannot be a leader in this category.”

Chad Wolfe, owner of downtown’s Trek Bike Store and member of the Tannery Knobs task force, said Tannery Knobs remains on schedule as IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association) Trail Solutions workers have started carving out the final trail. 

“The park still needs to have the access road updated as well as other ‘park’ amenities and projects independent from the trails so while June is certainly our target (to open), it's hard to get much more specific at this point,” Wolfe said. 

Discussions about the park commenced in late 2016 when local developer Grant Summers pitched the idea and offered to donate the Tannery Knobs land to the city in exchange for a $300,000 investment into the park’s development. 

Once the master plan was completed, IMBA Trail Solutions began sculping the trails in late 2017, with the help of various mountain biking clubs and volunteers. 

Tannery Knobs’ layout includes beginner-, intermediate- and expert-level trails. A walking trail is also being built atop the park so non-riders can also enjoy the views and action of the park. 

What sets Tannery Knobs apart from other mountain bike parks is its central location to downtown Johnson City and Interstate 26. 

To learn more about Tannery Knobs, visit www.ridetk.com.

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