28 Apr It’s Name Says It All. Welcome To The Unaka Bike Park!
When you talk “economic development” in Unicoi County the discussion must include outdoor tourism. When you talk Unicoi County the word “Unaka” must be included. The ribbon cutting for the newest landmark to bear the name Unaka – the Unaka Bike Park – will be held Friday, May 6th, at 11 a.m.
The Cherokee Indians named the mountains Unaka (“White”), probably in reference to a persistent white haze or to some white rock formations. Often the name Unaka is applied specifically to those peaks in Avery and Mitchell counties of North Carolina and in Unicoi and Carter counties of Tennessee, but no one has claimed the name more proudly than Real. Wild. Unicoi County! The county claims it again with the opening of the newest mountain bike park in the region, Unaka Bike Park. It will experience its Ribbon Cutting on Friday, May 6th and you are invited. Following the ribbon cutting, everyone is invited to walk the trail. We want walkers to enjoy the park along with bike riders. Unaka Bike Park will officially be open to all riders on Saturday, May 7.
The Joint Economic Development Board of Unicoi County had the vision to add another spoke in the wheel of its leadership in mountain adventures several years ago and thanks to citizen involvement and a partnership with the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) Trail Solutions a new, inclusive biking experience is now ready for the pedals of visitors and locals alike.
“We have taken the beauty of what we were given and turned it into a destination for visitors from across the five-state region and an asset that merchants here can enjoy with visitor purchases to grow our tax base,” says Lee Brown, Chairman of the Joint Unicoi County Economic Development Board. “Beyond manufacturing, new homes, and new businesses located in the county, amenities such as the Unaka Bike Park are an important part of our economic development strategy.”
According to the Tennessee Department of Tourism, Unicoi County (page 28) could credit nearly $17,000,000 in sales to tourism just before the pandemic and the Unaka Bike Park is a cog in driving new interest in the county as consumers seek new, exciting adventures in a post-pandemic world. IMBA predicts that Unaka Bike Park could represent a $1.3 million annual impact in increased tourism dollars to the local economy. For locals, especially children and teens, the park offers another opportunity to step away from screen time and experience the great outdoors..
Unaka Bike Park is less than a mile from Downtown Erwin and just over a mile from I-26. This first phase of the park includes two trails – one designed to accommodate beginner bikers and hikers and one gravity trail for more progressive bikers. The second phase of the park will add additional mileage of advanced mountain biking trails and hiking trail access to the top of the property.
The May 7th grand opening of Unaka Bike Park will coincide with a Town of Erwin’s Great Outdoors Festival, to be held the same day in Downtown Erwin from 10am till 5pm. The festival will celebrate outdoor adventures tied to the Appalachian Mountains and the Appalachian Trail that runs through the county. If you are ready to try the new bike park, just bring your wheels.
Local mountain biking organizations will be on-site to offer information about mountain biking and group rides on the trail. Biking vendors from around the region will be in attendance including regional bike shops, clubs, and organizations. Parking at the trailhead will be limited on Saturday, so visitors are asked to park approximately one block away at the Unicoi County Health Department, located at 101 Okolona Drive in Erwin.
In the event of inclement weather, the ribbon cutting will be held at the Erwin Municipal Building on May 6th at 11:00 a.m.