Location: Scott County, Tenn.
Acreage: 19,000 acres
Activities: ATV riding, camping, hunting, fishing
Brimstone Recreation is one of America’s premier destinations for ATV riders, and also offers hunting, fishing, hiking, horseback riding and camping.
Brimstone Recreation was established in the mid 2000s to preserve outdoors recreation opportunities on the former Brimstone Company lands in the Cumberland Mountains.
Founded by some of the region’s most influential businessmen and powerbrokers — including U.S. Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr. and banking magnate Bill Swain — the Brimstone Company consisted of about 45,000 acres — or one-sixth of the land mass of Scott County. Its lands were traditionally used for coal mining, oil drilling, and especially in later years, logging.
Though the Brimstone Company’s lands were privately-owned, local residents had traditionally used the property for hunting and ATV riding. When the Brimstone Company sold the surface rights to its property to New Hampshire-based Lyme Timber Co. in 2003, there was interest from various parties in establishing a resort in the mountains.
Several local businessmen, led by Mark Love — the owner of Cumberland Wood Products — formed Brimstone Recreation and leased the recreational rights to the Brimstone lands from Lyme Timber. Brimstone Recreation constructed hundreds of miles of off-road trails and also implemented a hunting lease system through which large blocks of mountain land was leased for $1 per acres for hunting.
After a few short years, the State of Tennessee purchased a significant amount of the original Brimstone property to include it in the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. The North Cumberland WMA had begun as the 45,000-acre Royal Blue Wildlife Management Area. The Sundquist Wildlife Management Area was later established nearby. With the purchase of the Brimstone property, the TN Wildlife Resources Agency formed the North Cumberland WMA, consisting of nearly 150,000 acres.
Kick back and cut loose
Brimstone’s motto is “Camp, Ride, Kick Back and Cut Loose.” Today, Brimstone Recreation consists of 19,196 acres of land in the Cumberland Mountains, and it is open 365 days a year. The trail system consists of 300 miles of trail with a little bit of something for riders of all skill levels, ranging from easy trails for beginners to moderate trails for more advanced riders and difficult trails for trail-riding experts.
While West Virginia’s Hatfield-McCoy trail system and the Coal Creek OHV trails at Windrock in Tennessee had long been established by the time Brimstone’s trails came online, it was Brimstone Recreation that truly spearheaded ATV riding in the Cumberland Mountains as a national draw. Brimstone was declared by one ATV magazine to be the world’s No. 1 destination for off-road riders. Today, riders come from all across the United States to experience the trails at Brimstone.
Brimstone Recreation hosts two major events each year: White Knuckle Event, on Memorial Day weekend in the spring, and Paragon, in mid September. The events feature trail rides, mud bogs, poker runs, and nightly concerts by renowned country music artists like Hank Williams Jr. and Travis Tritt.
Permits are required to access Brimstone’s trail system. For more information, see brimstonerecreation.com.