American Trails' 20th National Trails Awards Program honors people and programs at the 20th American Trails National Symposium. The awards celebration was held in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nov. 16, 2010.
This award is given to a partnership that has benefited agencies or services within the field of trail planning, design, or implementation and has contributed toward a positive public exposure for these fields.
Tennessee Valley Authority and the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association
Rock trail at Raccoon Mountain Reservoir
Hikers and mountain bikers can enjoy the outdoors on Raccoon Mountain as a result of a continued partnership between the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association. The current trail system encircles TVA’s Raccoon Mountain Reservoir with over 17 miles of single track trail and includes trails for both novice and expert users.
It has become a destination trail system, with people traveling from all over to ride it. Both parties worked together to help maintain the integrity of the land by providing a trail that is environmentally friendly and teaching users the Leave No Trace philosophy of trail recreation.
It’s common to see visitors from Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, and Florida. Posts to the SORBA website show that people have traveled from as far away as Ohio and Texas to ride the trails. Multiple mountain biking and trail running events occur on weekends during the spring, summer, and fall months. Events have included the Southeast Regional Championships with over 300 racers and the Scenic City Trail Marathon with over 200 runners.
Outside Magazine and National Geographic Explorer both rated Chattanooga as a “best place” to live and mentioned Raccoon Mountain as an attraction. The trails have also been recognized in two national mountain bike magazines: Bike Magazine and Mountain Bike Magazine.
SORBA volunteers moving rocks for the new trail
Permission was granted to build these trails through a unique agreement between TVA and SORBA. TVA conducted an Environmental Assessment to ensure a trail could be created in a way that would protect the environment. Biologists, archaeologists, recreation specialists, and others evaluated the potential impact on the area. TVA continues to provide assistance on future development plans.
This project has gained widespread support from various organizations. With technical assistance from the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) and Outdoor Chattanooga; this network of trail is seen as a benchmark for the development of accessible and sustainable trail on public land. Other partners include the Bikes Belong Coalition and an extensive network of volunteers. SORBA staff and volunteers work to promote land access, trail preservation, and new trail development in the Southeast. They provide training for trail builders to create trails that prevent erosion as well as promote “Leave No Trace” policies with users.
For more information:
Sabrina Melton, Project Manager Watershed Stewardship
Tennessee Valley Authority
1101 Market Street, PSC 1E-C Chattanooga, TN 37402
Phone: 423-876-6740 Fax: 423-876-6749
More about trails in the Chattanooga area:
Information from the 2008 Symposium in Little Rock, AR:
2008 Sponsors and Exhibitors:
2008 Awards and volunteers:
How to attend:
Past and future of the National Trails Symposium: