The Fire Mountain Trail System is Cherokee’s Latest Attraction—Experience it for Yourself!8.22.2017
Calling all hikers, bikers, and runners! If you haven’t yet experienced the Cherokee Fire Mountain Trail, then you’re in for a treat. Last June, The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians officially opened the system. Free to the public, and open all day (every day), the 10.5-mile, mixed-use network provides guests with a variety of paths (seven trails in total). There are single-track and wider sections, as well as smooth spots and more challenging trails. The trailhead is conveniently located a hundred yards from the Oconaluftee Indian Village in Cherokee, NC, where it also shares a parking lot.
Spearheaded by the Tribal Project Management Team, the planning process for the trails began in 2014. Funding was provided by a Cherokee Preservation Foundation grant, and after approval of the initial plan by the Tribal Council, funding was secured from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. A resource for both residents and visitors looking for safe recreational opportunities, this trail benefits everyone—from the most advanced bike enthusiast to the leisurely hiker.
Jeremy Hyatt is Secretary of Administration for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. He shares, “I am truly proud to be a part of such an amazing project. From concept to completion, there have been so many good people giving and implementing so many great ideas that have culminated into what I think is a world-class trail system for our Eastern Band members and for the regional outdoor community as a whole. The fanfare and success to this point has far exceeded my expectations and I hope it’s only the beginning.”
The property is in a land trust, which means it is protected from development. Visitors to the trail are certain to spot interesting flora and fauna, such as elk and snakes (and possibly bear or deer). Oak and hickory tree are mixed with hardwoods, poplar trees, and mountain laurel. In the past, hunters would come to the area looking for turkeys and bears.
When asked how the Trail got its name, Jeremy replied, “The property on the mountain that we built the trails on has a history of catching fire—in fact it did during the planning phase. We thought it was an apt name considering what arose from those ashes.” Visitors today, however, need not worry about fires.
The trails are dog friendly, but pet owners are encouraged to use good judgment when bringing their animals to the trails. Parking at the Oconaluftee Indian Village and entrance to the trails are free of charge. Make it more than a day trek—plan an overnight stay in one of our many accommodations. For more information, click here.