Last week, I went on a hike on the Rocky Fork track in TN with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. We met at the first rest stop on I-26 in Tennessee to contemplate the track of land we’re trying to save. See the picture above. According to SAHC, this is the largest remaining, unprotected piece of land in the Southern Appalachian mountains.
Then we drove to the Rocky Fork track to hike and learn about its pedigree and its future. Right now, the land is owned by Timber Vest, a timber investment company. It is always important to me to know who the sellers of a piece of land. For every buyer who may want to develop the land, there’s a seller who is getting a good price for the property. This 10,000 acres is being sold for $40 millions.
The Conservation Fund will actually buy the property and turn it over to the state of Tennessee and to the US Forest Service. As we hiked, we saw that the land had been heavily logged. Roads and even flat homesites were obvious. But there were also plenty of sweet moments such as the tiny triple waterfall – nothing like the Triple Falls in Dupont State Forest.
The loop was 8 miles and 1,200 ft. of ascent – difficult enough for some that we ended up in three groups – all spread out. Although it is private land, you can hike it and groups like the Johnson City hikers plan hikes here regularly. But there are no maps yet!