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Northeast Tennessee’s Doe Mountain Recreation Area & ATV Trail System

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An emerging new recreational ATV riding trail system located on the northeastern tip of Tennessee, Doe Mountain Recreation Area is a new outdoor adventure area in Johnson County, Tennessee.  The 8600 acre multi-use wilderness area currently maintains 50 miles of trails to be used by hikers, ATV/UTV riders,  dirt bikes, mountain bikes, and horses.

Doe Mountain ATV

As a new ATV trail system in Tennessee, the DMRA continues to improve and expand the trails.  In fact, since the spring and summer of 2018, several improvements have been underway which include expansion of several trails, new and improved trail markers, and updated trail maps. You can keep current on all the updates and trail openings on their Facebook page.


Doe Mountain Recreation Area Trails & Fees

Permits can be purchased online or at the new Adventure Center located adjacent to the main parking area.  Also available at the Adventure Center are trail maps, DMRA information, trail books,  and DMRA merchandise.

ATV Permits

The open trails are multi-use motorized trails permitting OHV/ATV riders. The trails are marked and permits are required. Permits can be purchased online here. 

Permit TypeDay Permit FeeAnnual Permit Fee
OHV Operator$18.00$60.00
OHV Passenger$3.00$25.00

ATV Rentals

At this time there are no commercially available rentals for ATV’s in the DMRA area.  Also note, that 4x4s are NOT ALLOWED on the DMRA trails.

ATV Trail Markings  
  • Green– Easiest trails which are wider and more level than other trails
  • Blue– More difficult narrow trails with moderately steep, uneven paths over rocks and obstacles
  • Black– Most difficult trails with extremely steep and uneven paths and large rocks and obstacles

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Historic Kettlefoot Fire Look Out Tower

Be sure not to miss the Kettlefoot Fire Lookout Tower.   Registered by the National Park Service on the national register of historic places, the view from the fire tower is well worth the climb.  According to their Facebook page, 

Rehabilitation of Trail 25 to the historic Kettlefoot Fire Lookout Tower has been completed, along with repairs to four miles of Main Trail 1. Our trail crew will be working on extending Trail 16 to become a loop during June. For that reason, Trail 16 will remain closed, but all other trails on Doe Mountain are OPEN. We also hope to open a new segment of Single Track Trail in the next few days. We think you’ll like the improvements we’ve been making through the first half of 2019!

Historic Kettlefoot Fire Lookout Tower
Historic Kettlefoot Fire Lookout Tower
Beautiful fall views from on top of Doe Mountain Recreation Area ATV Trails in Tennessee

“”It is currently accessible to OHV (dirt bike, ATV, UTV), pedestrian and biking traffic via DMRA Multi-use Trail 25. DMRA plans to construct new hiking and biking trails to the base of the tower, which will link into the rest of the Authority’s extensive network of trails.”

-Kettlefoot Fire Tower Facebook Page

Lodging near Doe Mountain Recreation Area

The nearby town of Mountain City, while small, offers some quaint lodging options. If you are willing to drive a bit longer, lodging can be found on nearby Watauga lake as well.

Watauga Lake front or Doe Mountain creekside cabins with boat and pontoon rentals available. Do a little fishing and relaxing in between the trail days.

Historic civil war era mansion located on the outskirts of Mountain City, TN offering countryside scenery and a made from scratch breakfast

Stunning romantic B&B with gorgeous 180 degree views of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains

Located about 20 minutes from DMRA, with hiking trails and access to the Appalachian Trail for those of you who enjoy hiking in between riding on the ATV trails.

Camping near Doe Mountain Recreation Area

There are several options for camping near the Doe  Mountain Recreation area for both primitive tent camping and full hook up RV sites.

Located in Mountain City with convenient access to the trails.  They have both tent and RV sites with water and electric available. There is a dump station included as well as a shower house.

R&D Campground connects directly to DMRA trail 17 and permits can be purchased at the campground.

Reservations for R& D Campground can be made here.  

Located in Mountain City, TN only 7 minutes from Doe Mountain Recreation Area.  They are located off the famous “snake” section of 421 at the base of beautiful Iron Mountain.  They have tent and full service RV sites as well as a small cabin.

Amenities include:

  • Camp Store
  • Bath House
  • Covered Pavillion
  • Creek side deck
  • Creek side access
  • Community Fire Pit

Reservations for Corn Creek can be made here.

Located 19 minutes from DMRA in Butler, TN. They offer cabin rentals, luxury tent site, RV sties with dedicated water and sewer hook ups, and primitive Tent sites.

Amenities include

  • Public Bath House
  • Picnic Shelter
  • Gas Grills
  • Fire Pit
  • Hose/Wash Down Area
  • Firewood *Additional charge applies
  • Kayak Rentals *Additional charge applies  

Roan Creek campground directly connects to the far end of DMRA trail 1 and permits can be purchased at the camp ground.

Reservations for Roan Creek can be made here.

Dining Near Doe Mountain Recreation Area

Despite being a small town, Mountain City has some great dining options in the area.  There are, of course, fast food options and grocery stores to help you stock your camp sites or cabins, but if you are looking for an evening out for dinner, we highly recommend the following options.

Suba’s: 10 minutes from Doe Mountain Recreation Area

Owned and operated by two professionally trained chefs, LuAnne and Rich Suba, Suba’s is definitely not to be missed. The small restaurant has steak, seafood, pasta and chicken dishes for every palate and Luanne’s pastries are not to be beat! We personally recommend the Carrot Cake Cheesecake if you can get a piece before it’s gone. Reservations are recommended!

Suba's Carrot cake Cheesecake

La Cucina’s Italian Kitchen: 6 Minutes from Doe Mountain Recreation Area 

Another amazing hidden gem in Mountain City is La Cucina’s Italian Kitchen.  Italian Owner, Matteo Torri, makes everything from scratch.  This family style homey Italian restaurant only has 24 tables so reservations are a must!  The food is authentic Italian and the ambiance is great for a romantic meal or a larger family dinner.  We have dined here on numerous occasions and have always had an amazing dinner!

Monsoon’s Thai & Exotic Foods: 11 Minutes from Doe Mountain Recreation Area

In nearby Butler, TN inside of what amounts to an out building, you will find the long established and fantastic Monsoon’s Thai & Exotic Foods.  If you aren’t in a hurry and Thai food is your thing, make it a point to have dinner here one night.

Shirley’s Home Cooking: 22 Minutes from Doe Mountain Recreation Area

If home cooking is more your style, 22 minutes away on 321 located near Watauga Lake is Shirley’s Home Cooking family style restaurant.  All menu items are just like grandma made it, “from scratch” and all you care to eat.  Be sure to check the website for their live music schedule.

Read: ATV Trails in Tennessee:  The Best ATV Trials & Parks

Attractions Near Doe Mountain Recreation Area

If ATV riding isn’t enough to keep you busy, here are a few other attractions to consider while visiting the Doe Mountain Recreation Area.

Take a walk through downtown Mountain City

Mountain City, TN is a charming town in this northeast Tennessee rural area.  The downtown, while small, offers a few antique stores and a beautiful mural.  Stop in at the visitor center for a glimpse into the historic life of this community and stroll down the residential streets to see some beautiful historic houses including the historic Butler house built in 1871 for congressman Roderick R. Butler.

Mountain City Sign
Downtown Mountain City brick sidewalks
Historic Mountain City Home
Mountain City Mural

Tour the Watauga Lake Winery

You can read our complete review of this Winery at the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Board here.

If you like their wine, you can join their wine club!   Speaking of wine, check out this post for more information on wine club subscriptions. Here is a great article on Wine Packaging for Travel so you can take some home. (Sorry, I got a little distracted at the mention of wine!)

Valle Nova Winery Mountain City, TN

Take A Tennessee Road Tour on “The Snake”

Drive on “The Snake”

Take a Hike On The Appalachian Trail or Other Local Hikes

Here is a review of the Backbone Rock hike pictured below as well as a video of the nearby hike to The Blue Hole Falls.

Backbone Rock Butler, TN

Ride the Virginia Creeper Trail

Another great trail and different way to see the beauty of this region is on two wheels!  You can mountain bike within the DMRA, but a very popular nearby attraction is the Virginia Creeper Trail.

This 34.3 mile rail to trail recreation area makes a lovely day trip.  If you didn’t bring your bikes, you can also rent bikes and be taken to the top for a beautiful and easy ride down the trail or you can simply section hike parts of the  trail.

Virginia Creeper Trail Whitetop Station
Stream on the Virginia Creeper Trail

For more information about visiting the Virginia Creeper Trail, visit their website. 

We know you will love the Doe Mountain Recreation area and it’s surrounding beauty!  Thanks to Doe Mountain Recreation Area for this beautiful view taken from the top of the tower!

Doe Mountain Recreation Area- Kettlefoot Fire Tower Lookout view of Iron Mountain

Visit the Nearby Smoky Mountains

The town of Mountain City and surrounding northeast Tennessee region is charming in its own right, but you can’t get this close to the Smoky Mountains and not make a visit to Tennessee’s premier mountains and the nation’s most visited national park, The Great Smoky Mountains. Check out all our Smoky Mountain content below for even more fun and adventure in the Tennessee Mountains.

For the most up to date information on the Doe Mountain Recreation Area and the ongoing additions and maintenance of trails and activities, visit their blog here. 

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Thursday 19th of July 2018

Ok, that cake definitely caught my eye! It looks so good! Some wine wouldn't hurt, either. Beautiful photos! Thanks for joining FAF! See you tomorrow! xo


Thursday 19th of July 2018

omg that food! That dessert made me drool! I love ATVs they are so much fun. I used one in Santorini of all places. This looks like a great spot. Have pinned! Thanks so much for joining Fly Away Friday! See you tomorrow :)