With the acquisition of 17 miles of former railbed from CSX Corporation, Grundy County plans to double the length of the Mountain Goat Trail (MGT), expanding the greenway to bring increased tourism and quality of life to this ruggedly beautiful part of the state.
“The Mountain Goat Trail is a crucial part of our plans to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Grundy County, as well as visitors. We realize the trail will be completed in phases, but purchasing 17 miles of Mountain Goat Railroad bed from CSX will allow us to continue developing the Trail as a driver of wellness and economic development for our area,” Grundy Mayor Michael Brady said.
In July, the county finalized the transfer of the property, located between the towns of Tracy City, Coalmont and Palmer. When completed, the Mountain Goat Trail will stretch nearly forty miles from Cowan in Franklin County onto the Cumberland Plateau, past the University of the South in Sewanee, and through the historic towns of Monteagle, Tracy City, and Coalmont before ending in Palmer.
“The addition of the CSX property in Grundy County is a game-changer for the Mountain Goat Trail,” said Mountain Goat Trail Alliance board president Nate Wilson. “Taking the trail from 12 miles to almost 30 miles, with more to come in the future, enlarges the possibilities for tourism, supporting businesses, and connecting the communities here in the South Cumberland region.”
The Mountain Goat Trail Alliance, with assistance from The Land Trust for Tennessee, facilitated the acquisition. Funding for the project was made possible by an Asset Enhancement Grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the Lyndhurst Foundation, and the South Cumberland Community Fund.
“The Mountain Goat Trail is such a visible, accessible beacon of the social, health and economic benefits of land conservation,” said The Land Trust for Tennessee President and CEO, Liz McLaurin. “Our organization is thrilled to partner on the transformation of this former railroad into a vibrant resource for Tennesseans and visitors alike.”
A 2012 study by the Babson Center for Global Commerce at the University of the South estimated the annual economic benefit of $1.2 million to the towns along the Mountain Goat Trail. With five miles completed and six more due to open by late 2019, the trail is already seeing substantial use by both locals and visitors. The CSX property, connecting the Fiery Gizzard and Savage Gulf State Parks, is expected to create more trail users, and to spur the creation of businesses and services for them.
To learn more, go to www.mountaingoattrail.org