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Buffalo Mountain Fire Tower

  2.5 ( 2 ) Favorite


13.4 mile 21.5 kilometer loop
50% Singletrack


Ascent: 1,950' 594 m
Descent: -1,910' -582 m
High: 3,503' 1,068 m
Low: 1,999' 609 m


Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 48% (25°)


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Trail shared by Chad Wolfe

Gravel climb up Briar Creek Road (FS 188) to the fire tower before a rowdy descent down Buffalo Mountain ATV Trail #29.

Chad Wolfe

Electric Mountain Bikes Allowed

Features Views


A perfect mix of gravel and trail, with a little asphalt descending for good measure. The apex of this truly unique loop up Forest Road #188 is the Buffalo Mountain Fire Tower before a rocky, rooty, steep descent back to the bottom.

Need to Know

Trail #29 is multiuse with motorized users and, while you won't exactly find a traffic jam, as with any multidirectional trail, always be aware of your surroundings and keep your bike in control at all times.

There is a $5 per vehicle parking fee in the feed tube at the trailhead, so bring some cash.

Downtown Johnson City is only a few miles away full of perfect post-ride breweries and a freakishly diverse list of options for grub.


This 13 mile route starts and ends from the parking lot of Trail #29 in the Cherokee National Forest and truly has the best of everything. Kick things off with a short (but fast) descending road ride headed down Dry Creek Road just outside of downtown Johnson City and through the incredible Cherokee National Forest. Take a left on Briar Creek Road (FS 188) which quickly turns into a spectacular gravel/dirt climb all the way to the fire tower on the top of Buffalo Mountain.

Hop on Buffalo Mountain ATV Trail #29 for a rowdy descent back to Dry Creek Road filled with everything from smooth hardpack, crazy steep dips, berms, and ROCKS. The road, gravel, and trail all have views that make the effort completely worth it.

Riders can also shuttle up Forest Road #188. Most use the fire tower parking lot as the turn around point (easily identified with a yellow gate blocking off car traffic to the tower). With nearly 2,000 feet of climbing, it's no surprise that this trail is also popular with eMTBs.

You can easily add 5 mile road out and back along Dry Creek Road by parking (when not in use of course) at Cherokee Elementary or 7 miles from ETSU/Downtown Johnson City. There are also several parking options along Dry Creek Road typical with most national forests.

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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Dogs Allowed, History & Background


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Trail Ratings

  2.5 from 2 votes


in Johnson City


  2.5 from 2 votes
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in Johnson City


in Tennessee


45 Views Last Month
82 Since Jul 22, 2019



Big views with big climbs right in the middle of town
Jul 14, 2019 near Unicoi, TN
Fire tower view.
Jul 23, 2017 near Unicoi, TN
Jul 23, 2017 near Unicoi, TN
Peak Fall in the CNF.
Dec 7, 2018 near Unicoi, TN
Trail just after intersection
Jan 7, 2015 near Unicoi, TN
Trail intersection
Jan 6, 2015 near Unicoi, TN


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