By JULYA JOHNSON
6 Storm Team Meteorologist
OLIVER SPRINGS (WATE) – From the moment you enter Oliver Springs, it’s obvious that something is different. People are friendly, which is common in the south, but what’s with the abundance of big mud tires?
“We are the largest privately owned OHV area in the country. Seventy-two thousand acres, 300-plus miles worth of trails, campground, hiking, mountain biking; there’s all kinds of things to do,” said Kira Smith-Ludwig, spokesperson for Windrock Park.
Oliver Springs is the home to Windrock Park, which is operated by The Coal Creek Company. Old logging and coal mining trails have been turned into an outdoor enthusiasts dream.
“It’s such a large park. You know, you can go for hours and hours and never hit the same trail,” said Charlie Johnson, visiting from Indiana. “You can pretty much pick your ease of trail. You can go on an easy trail or a hard trail. It’s really up to you.”
“All of our trails are marked, kind of like ski trails, so easy, moderate, difficult, and very, very difficult,” said Smith-Ludwig.
The size of this park makes it a destination for people all over the world.
“We do have a lot of locals, but we’ve seen people from Canada. We’ve even gotten people from Europe before,” Smith-Ludwig said.
As you trek up the mountain, you’ll encounter big rocks, challenging landscapes, and beautiful scenery. A sudden chill in the air and popping ears are clues that you are nearing the crest of just over 3,200 feet. For those who are adventurous enough to make it to the top of the mountain, you’ll find an amazing view like no other.
TVA’s only wind farm, high on Buffalo Mountain, is a highlight of Windrock Park. Eighteen wind turbines produce enough energy to power nearly 4,000 homes.
More online: Windrock Park website
The windmills can be seen from both easy and extreme trails, so you can take your pick. No doubt, this view is special, but what if you’ve never been on an off road vehicle?
“Just don’t be scared. We can accommodate you. If you want to come out and just ride gravel roads, we’ve got that. If you want to just come out and look at the views, there’s hiking, just don’t be intimidated,” said Smith-Ludwig. “Just come on out and have a good time.”
Windrock Park offers rental vehicles and fully furnished cabins. It’s about 25 miles west of Knoxville.
By JULYA JOHNSON