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Natural Attractions

Physical Features
The Appalachian Trail
Backbone Rock

The Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail runs from Georgia to Maine. Twenty miles of the trail is in Johnson County. The trail enters the county at the western end by Watauga Lake. The trail goes approximately 4 ½ miles to the visitor center at Watauga Dam. About 14 miles up, the trail crosses Cross Mountain Road. This is a dirt road that connects Doe Valley with Shady Valley. The Appalachian Trail crosses to the other side of Shady Valley and follows Holston Mountain above Shady Valley. You may access the trail nine miles from the Cross Mountain Road by U. S. Highway 421 at the top of Holston Mountain at the Johnson County and Sullivan County line. The trail follows Holston Mountain above Shady Valley. A two mile trail connects the Appalachian Trail to Backbone Rock. Seventeen to eighteen miles from the Highway 421 connection the Appalachian Trail reaches Camp Ahistadi in Laurel Bloomery.

Other hiking trails in the Cherokee National Forest of Johnson County include:
•a one-mile circle at Backbone Rock
•Iron Mountain Trail (follows the Iron Mountain Ridge)
•Pond Mountain Trail (begins at Little Stony Creek Road and goes 5.9 miles)