The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is adding 100 miles of new trails to the New River Unit of the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area, the agency announced last week.
TWRA said that 80 of the 100 miles of new trails are already complete and posted with signage, while work has begun on the remaining 20 miles.
The New River trail work is expected to be complete by 2025, the agency said. The New River Unit of the WMA is located mostly in Scott County.
TWRA is also developing 100 miles of new trails on the Ed Carter Unit of the North Cumberland WMA, which falls into Campbell and Claiborne counties.
The North Cumberland WMA has grown from 53,000 acres to 204,000 acres over the past 25 years, and TWRA said the expanded trail system is necessary to accommodate the growth in recreational users. While the North Cumberland is a wildlife conservation area first and foremost, OHV use on the property has exploded in popularity in recent years.
While OHV riders frequent the New River Unit and Ed Carter Unit of the WMA, TWRA’s developed trail area has been primarily relegated to the Sundquist Unit of the WMA, which falls mostly into Campbell County. There are about 100 miles of established ATV trails on the Sundquist Unit.
Once the current work is finished, there will be some 300 miles of dedicated OHV trails across the WMA.
TWRA has also received grant funding to create a 20-mile connector trail through the Royal Blue Unit of the WMA, which will link the Sundquist Unit with the New River Unit. Work will begin on that project next year.
While announcing the new trails, TWRA said that some OHV trails will be converted to seasonal hunter access trails during hunting seasons.
“Our goal is to have a sustainable, managed trail system that can be enjoyed by all users for years to come while focusing on the primary objective of the WMA, which is wildlife management,” said North Cumberland WMA manager Keith Thomas. “It is always the priority of TWRA to place the safety of our sportsmen, conservation of our land, and the wellbeing of our wildlife resources at the forefront of our efforts.”
TWRA rules require riders to stay on designated trails on the WMA. Off-trail riding is prohibited. The agency is working on a digital mapping initiative to place digital trail maps online.
In a related move, the Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission, which governs TWRA, has voted to restrict alcohol use on WMAs to designated locations — such as campgrounds. This means that alcohol possession and consumption will be prohibited while using OHVs. In addition, the same DUI laws that apply to public roads also apply on state-managed trails, and children under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet while riding.
Riders on the WMA must have a valid permit — either a high-impact use permit, or a hunting license and supplemental WMA hunting permit.