New place to rest, more while enjoying Fire Tower trail opens

Brad Hicks • Nov 1, 2013 at 10:57 AM

UNICOI — Since it opened a couple of years ago, the Pinnacle Fire Tower Trail has remained one of the most popular hiking and biking destinations in Northeast Tennessee.

Now those who set out to ascend Buffalo Mountain on two feet or two wheels have a place that will provide rest, water and privacy for when nature calls.

The town of Unicoi’s Pinnacle Trail pavilion opened earlier this week. The covered structure is located on town-owned property at the Pinnacle Fire Tower Trail trailhead, which is adjacent to the future site of the Tanasi Regional Cultural Arts Center and just across the way from the town’s recently opened visitors center off Exit 32 of Interstate 26.

“It’s going to be a huge convenience in that they’ll have bathroom facilities available over there and water, clean water,” Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch said of the pavilion.

A large bulletin board has also been set up at the pavilion. This board will eventually provide visitors with information on the trail, maps of the area and information on other recreational opportunities in the region. The pavilion will also be for outdoor educational opportunities.

Town officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for the pavilion in March, and construction began shortly thereafter. The majority of the project was funded through a state Recreational Trails Program grant the town previously secured. Lynch said the town received final approval from engineers Monday that the pavilion was ready.

The current pavilion was constructed with one bay, but there are plans to expand the facility in the future. Lynch said town officials are looking to add more parking spaces at the pavilion. The structure itself will eventually be extended to include two more bays, which will allow for the placement of picnic tables under a covered shelter.

“We intend to extend it in the future,” he said.

The town will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially mark the opening of the pavilion Nov. 15.

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