Brimstone Recreation LLC: Huntsville, Tennessee

Destinations, East, Midwest, South — on December 14, 2006 at 12:00 pm

Tucked away in the northeast Tennessee mountains lies a little piece of what some off-road enthusiasts might consider heaven. An outdoor paradise offering endless activities and picturesque visuals to anyone who loves nature, and all of its beauty, has just gotten bigger, better and even more impressive.
Brimstone Recreation LLC, located in Huntsville, is the creation of local businessmen Mark Love, Aaron Thompson and Roger Blue. The trio of friends grew up hunting, hiking and riding ATVs all over the Brimstone property, which had been purchased by GMO Renewable Resources of Boston a little more than two years ago. After the timber company’s buyout of the land they, along with many local riders, feared that their privileges of free reign over the property would come to an abrupt halt.
After nearly two years of talks, the two sides struck a deal. The newly founded recreation company now manages and promotes the public use of the estimated 45,000 acres of backwoods, while GMO handles the land’s natural resources.
Brimstone borders other local riding spots Coal Creek OHV Area and Royal Blue/Sundquist Wildlife Management Area, making up more than 200,000 acres of wilderness to satisfy any hardcore ATV or outdoor enthusiast.

Brimstone Becomes Multi-Use
Instead of closing the Brimstone area to the public, permits are now available for purchase that allow access to hunting, horseback riding, paintball, camping, mountain biking and, of course, off-road vehicles. Visitors can even broaden their knowledge on the history of the area by attending one of the many culture expeditions exploring estates and farms more than 100 years old.
Permits are $15 daily, $25 weekly and $50 for an annual pass. “The current amount of permits that have been sold in the first couple of months has greatly exceeded my expectations,” said Love.
Love has spent more than 25 years exploring the vastness of Brimstone and still can’t get enough. “I’ve traveled worldwide doing my share of hunting and riding in all kinds of places, and Brimstone is my favorite. It is absolutely spectacular,” said Love. “It offers something for everyone and is unlike other riding areas in that it is not only a dirt track or just sand.”
The terrain is made up of hills, rocks, mud pits, heavily wooded areas and flats where riders can really open things up. It also welcomes all types of OHVs ranging from dirt bikes to rock crawlers, yet the most popular way to get around is on an ATV.
Brimstone’s trails are color-coded green, blue and red with green being easy, blue marking moderate and red warns riders of the more difficult trails. The trails also are numbered for easy navigation while looking at a map.
Perhaps no one knows the terrain better than Danny Phillips, who has frequented Brimstone on a weekly basis for the past 20 years. Phillips, a native of nearby Oneida, volunteers his time as a member of the Brimstone advisory committee and handles some of its public relations.
“There is a 25-mile long trail geared primarily toward beginners that branches out in the direction of Bull Creek, offering more rugged terrain for the more experienced rider,” Phillips said. “The wide array of trails, diversity in terrain and the amazing scenery are what bring in riders from all over.”
One of the most popular sites at Brimstone is Flower Mountain, a hefty, 5-mile climb to about 2,400 feet with an awe-inspiring view overlooking the Appalachian Mountains.
“The trail leading to the top is filled with different types of flowers, so when you get all the way up and look down, it’s like looking at a rainbow,” said Phillips.
Another hot spot for riders to check out is the site where the old coal washer once stood. A few miles beyond the torn down building is a lookout point where riders can overlook the valley and see the 18 giant windmills lining the Coal Creek area.
The local club, The Mountain ATV Riders of Scott County, maintains the trails by removing downed trees and trash every Saturday or Sunday. Brimstone also employs a handful of employees who act as a basic trail patrol, making sure that everyone enjoying the land has permits.
Phillips and Love are also developing a calendar of events to be held at Brimstone. The first event held in the spring of 2006 was an American Cancer Society Relay For Life charity ride.
“This is just the first of what we hope will be many events held here at Brimstone,” said Phillips. “We are trying for a few events this summer and into the fall, but by next spring, we should really be cookin’.”
Sponsorship programs are also in the works for the Brimstone area. Although not specifying any companies, Love hopes to have ATV manufacturers get in on the fun by putting on branded events, or just by doing some filming for movies or commercials.
Both men shudder to think what could have been if the land would have been closed to the public. “We would have been forced out of our own back yards,” said Phillips.
“You have to be creative when dealing with these issues concerning the use of land for recreational use, particularly when big corporations are involved,” added Love.
According to Love and Thompson, they knew someone had to step up to the plate in order to keep this prize of nature open for riding instead of just letting go of the place they spent nearly their whole lives exploring.

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