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Buffalo Mountain ATV Trail

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Other Names

Buffalo Mountain Park, Buffalo Mountain, Cherokee National Forest, Horse Cove Gap Trailhead, Unicoi County, Cherokee Mountain, Pinnacle Mountain, Straight Creek, Sinking Creek, Briar Creek, Trail #29, Unaka Ranger District, Ramsey Creek

Last Known StatusOpen

The Buffalo Mountain ATV Trail (not to be confused with Buffalo Mountain in West Virginia) is the only trail within the Cherokee National Forest that is open to ATVs. The staging area is small and open for day use only but is paved and has a loading ramp and self pay kiosk station.

The trail is linear (one way in, one way out) and is about 13 miles long each way. The trail starts off with a steep climb from the staging area but eventually heads south and follows the ridgeline of Buffalo Mountain. The trails also winds near the Pinnacle Mountain Fire Tower, which can be accessed by a short hiking trail.

The trail has a seasonal closure which usually begins in mid December and ends around late March. Exact dates vary each year, so check with the ranger station before heading out.

Visitors should note that this trail is not recommended for beginner riders due to rocky sections, roots, tree stumps, steep climbs and descents.

Trail Map... Nearby ATV Trails...


Permit RequiredNo
Dates OpenMarch - December 15
Other ATV Stickers AcceptedUnknown
Spark ArrestorYesA spark arresting exhaust silencer or end cap is required for all vehicles.
Noise LimitYes (96 dB)
Whip FlagsNot Required
Maximum Vehicle WidthYes (50 inches)has entrance gate or posts
Allow Dirt Bikes, Trail Bikes and Motorcycles Motorcycles & Dirt BikesPermitted
Allow All Terrain Vehicles / Quads / Four Wheelers Four WheelersPermitted(maximum width 50 inches)
Allow Utility Terrain Vehicles, Side by Sides (SXS), RZR UTV & SXSPermitted(maximum width 50 inches)
Allow 4x4 Jeeps, SUVs and 4 x 4 Trucks with License Plates SUVs & Jeeps (registered)Prohibited
Dune Buggy & Sand Rail
4x4 (unregistered)
2 Stroke EnginesNo Restriction
MX Helmet RequiredYes
Camping / Overnight RV Parking CampingProhibited
Campfire Restrictions CampfiresProhibited
Night RidingNoriding hours sunrise to sunset
Trail BlazingProhibitedstay on trail
Rule Enforcement


Approx Size2,560 acres (4 sq mi)
Miles Of Trail26
Climate TypeForest
Elevation2400 to 3000 ft.
Trail MaintenanceMarked, Not Rated, Lightly Maintained
Loose DirtThis trail has little loose dirt.Little
Hard PackThe trail has mostly hard pack terrain.Mostly
SandThis trail has little sandy areas.Little
MudThe trail has some mud after it rains.Some
DustThe trail has some dust on typical days.Some
RocksThis trail has mostly rocks.Mostly
TreesThe trail has almost all trees.All
Steep HillsThis trail has some steep hills.Some
Small JumpsThis trail has no small jumps.None
Large JumpsThis trail has no large jumps.None
BermsThe trail has few berms.Few
Sand/Gravel PitsThis national forest has no sand or gravel pits.None
Single TrackThis national forest has no single track trails.None
ShadeThis national forest has many shaded areas.Many
HazardsThis trail has few hazards.Few(hazards assumed marked but use caution)
Easy Terrain NoviceThis trail has little beginner terrain.Little
Moderate Terrain AmateurThis trail has mostly intermediate level terrain.Mostly
Difficult Terrain ExpertThis trail has some expert terrain.Some
CommentTrail is 13 miles long each way.


AreaMotorized Trails
LandNational Forest


Gasoline Gasoline5-20 Miles (NE)Shell (423) 928-6273
Diesel Diesel5-20 Miles (NE)Shell (423) 928-6273
Potable Water Water5-20 Miles (SE)Rock Creek Recreation Area Campground (423) 638-4109
RV Hookups RV Hookup5-20 Miles (SE)Nolichucky Gorge Campground (423) 743-8876
RV Dump Station RV Disposal5-20 Miles (SE)Rock Creek Recreation Area Campground (423) 638-4109
Primitive Camping Campground5-20 Miles (SE)Rock Creek Recreation Area Campground (423) 638-4109
Convenience Store Conv Store5-20 Miles (NE)Shell (423) 928-6273


EntryYes ($5.00 per vehicle)


Our RatingRatingGood
Recommended StayFull Day
Comments(Scroll Down For Rider Reviews & Comments)


Nearest CityJohnson City, TN
AddressDry Creek Road, Johnson City, TN 37604
Go Back To Tennessee List
Trail MapGo To Trail Map
From: Johnson City, TN
1) Take I-26 South to Exit 24
2) Stay in the left lane and turn left (west) off the exit ramp onto University Pkwy, continue 1.2 miles
3) Turn left (south) onto Hwy 67, continue 2.1 miles
4) Turn left (south-east) onto Lone Oak Road (road name changes to Dry Creek Road), continue 3.5 miles
5) Staging area is on the left (east).


Contact InfoCherokee National Forest - Unaka Ranger District
4900 Asheville Hwy SR70
Greenville, TN 37743
(423) 638-4109


Buffalo Mountain Trail Photo

Buffalo Mountain ATV Trail

This trail is very popular with the four wheelers. Photo Submitted 7/9/2012 (Thanks!)

Buffalo Mountain Trail Photo

Man wearing Thor motocross jersey standing behind Kawasaki KDX two-stroke with FMF Fatty Pipe.

The staging area is surrounded by trees, providing some shade. Photo Submitted 4/20/2013 (Thanks!)

Buffalo Mountain Trail Photo

Man wearing Oneal camouflage motocross pants standing next to Kawasaki two-stroke parked behind blue GMC Sierra SL6.

The main staging area is small but has paved parking. Compact trucks and small trailers only. Photo Submitted 4/20/2013 (Thanks!)

Buffalo Mountain Trail Photo

Man wearing camouflage motorcycle helmet standing next to Kawasaki KDX two-stroke with FMF Fatty Pipe on the trail.

The terrain is mostly hardpacked with loose chunk rock, tree roots, stumps and some steep climbs. This section of the trail smoothed out for a little bit. Photo Submitted 5/4/2013 (Thanks!)

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