South of Johnson City and north of Erwin in the Cherokee National Forest, the Buffalo Mountain ATV area has 8 miles of scenic, challenging riding. Theres over 1,000 feet of vertical climbing. It can be very dusty and hot during the peak of the summer.
To reach the trailhead from Erwin, head north on SR81 for alittle over 4 miles to Arnold Road (aka Nolichucky River Road) which is just before the Nolichucky River bridge. Turn right heading north on Arnold Road for 1.9 miles and veer right on Dry Creek Road. Follow Dry Creek Road east for 5.8 miles to the trailhead parking area.
To reach the trailhead from Johnson City, head south on US19W/23 to Exit 31. Head west on US321 for one mile to SR67 (aka Cherokee Road). Follow SR67 for two miles to Lone Oak Road. Turn left heading south on Lone Oak Road. This road winds around for about a mile and eventually turns into Dry Creek Road. Follow Dry Creek Road for about 3 miles and look for trailhead parking on left.
There are two main routes: the Blue Trail and the Mud Hollow.
Here are the directions for Mud Hollow. From the back of the parking lot, take a small foot path down and right to a logging road. The logging road in question stays fairly flat for a while and then starts a 25-30 minute climb to the top. From the parking lot to the top is about 3.5 miles. At this point, youll come out into a clearing that is actually a gas pipeline where you ll want to go right up a short hill (about 50 yards). At the top of the hill, when the pipeline starts back downhill, turn left into the woods and follow this singletrack until you come to a trail a little wider than singletrack and and more narrow than a logging road. This is the blue trail. From here you can continue left to go up to a fire tower and then return. Or go right for a fun (but sometimes rocky) descent back to the parking lot.
For the Blue Trail, blue blazes mark this trail, thus its name. The trail is intended for motercycle and ATV use and is maintained by these groups. There is no friction between the motorized folks and mountian bikers, though they often give a shake of the head, letting us know were a little off for supplying our own power. The Blue Trail heads up the path to the right of the motorcycle loading platform, and continues up for what seems forever. This climb is steep, rocky, and, depending on the time of year, muddy. It is, however, easy to follow--just follow the blue blazes up to the fire tower. You will continue up the trail, crossing a few logging roads, until you come to an exit from the trail with no obvious path on the opposite side. Go right up this logging road and ignore the blue blazes that go off to the left just below an orange gate on the trail unless you want to commit to a three or more hour out-and-back ride. Past the orange gate, youll finally reach the fire tower just past a 100 yard, and really steep climb. Turn around and follow the blue blazes back, or you can follow the logging road down. If you do this, go left at the first fork and right at the second. Once you reach the road, turn right and the parking lot is about a two mile climb.