KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Residents and visitors have another opportunity to weigh in on proposed mountain bike trails in Wears Valley. The trails would be part of the Foothills Parkway Section 8D corridor that will cross the valley.
After receiving public input in October 2020, the National Park Service determined that additional information was needed about “karst” resources. Karst is an area made up of limestone, a chalk that dissolves in water. Karst landscapes usually have caves, underground streams and sinkholes at the surface level.
A new study was performed in 2021. A revised environmental analysis has been completed that includes additional information about karst resources, more analysis of potential impacts, and additional measures to protect karst resources.
“Previous NPS planning efforts completed between 1968 and 1984 indicate that the Wears Valley portion of Section 8D should be one of the most highly developed along the Parkway based on its central location and other factors,” says NPS in a website post about the proposed mountain bike trail system.
The National Park Service seeks input on the updated version of the environmental study. Officials would like public comment on this additional information about analysis of potential impacts, karst resources and how to protect them.
With more than 800 miles of trails in the park, fewer than 8 are designated for biking.
“Mountain biking is an underserved recreational use in the Park and there has been strong community interest in establishing a network of trails specifically designed for mountain bike use,” the park says. “Public roads within the Park are open to biking, but no purpose-built mountain biking trails exist.”
How to provide comment
- When: Feb 8 through March 10
- Where: (preferred) online; mail to GSMNP, 107 Park Headquarters Rd Gatlinburg, TN 37728
- More info: Wears Valley Mountain Bike Trails
The last day to input feedback will be March 10.