We have had the pleasure of hiking in most of the southeastern states but very few deliver the variety of footpaths and views that Buffalo Mountain in Johnson City, Tennessee does. Just five minutes from the busy and bustling streets of one of the largest cities in the state of Tennessee, visitors will be greeted with mountain streams, boulders, and even the occasional glimpse at wildlife.
Buffalo Mountain Park encompasses 725 acres of that was U.S. Forest Service land until a land swap in 1994 with the city government of Johnson City. The park now has many functions including hiking, picnicking, and even nature programs. I have no clue what the trade was but I cannot imagine the U.S. Forest Service getting a better deal than Johnson City.
There are 13 possible combination of trails that total nearly 20 miles so the opportunity to hike the entire mountain and see each peak is a possibility. Due to time constraints, we were only able to hike White Rock Loop to Sunset Point and Huckleberry Knob and a small portion of The Noggin. In addition to some of the most beautiful overlooks from Sunset Point and Huckleberry Knob, we were also extremely surprised by the natural makeup of the trails. Along the side of the mountain, the dark, wet soil locked large boulders and stepstones into place whereas at the peaks and points, some of the dirt was similar to a red clay and other was pure white sand. The Noggin followed a small creek that was surrounded by boulders until it split into two trails that climb nearly straight up the densely wooded mountain. Hikers would need to cross the creek over the rocks or take the single board footbridge. These new and sturdy bridges are the safest and easiest ways to cross over the sometimes rain swollen creek.
If you are wanting to travel to Buffalo Mountain Park, it is located at 570 High Ridge Road. The hours vary of course with the weather but in the summer, the park is open from 7am to 9pm and in the winter from 7am to 8pm. However, between December 15 and March 15, the upper parking lot is closed.
If you are planning a trip to Johnson City, this is an absolute must to have on your itinerary. Depending on the amount of time you have, there is plenty of trails to spend the entire day wandering the wilderness. At the trailhead, you can find the map of the park that will show you distance and elevation. Regardless of the time of year you go, definitely take time to see at least one sunset at Sunset Point off the White Rock Trail. This moderate (sometimes slippery) hike is well worth the view and the park has seating overlooking natures show.
We had the pleasure of meeting one of the park workers while there and she was checking the trails early that morning. If you have any questions when you arrive, please find the worker at the gate or call 423-283-5815 before you go!