By Nathan Ham
The eagerly-anticipated Hi-Lo Adventure Trail in Beech Mountain will add lots of new stops and destinations to the list of things for tourists to do when they come to town.
The town officially introduced the driving trail at a merchant expo at the Buckeye Recreation Center on Thursday. The trail features three different driving loops, the 100-mile Mountain 2 Mountain Loop, the 105-mile Lakeside Loop and the 85-mile Tasters Loop. Each driving trail gives visitors a full day’s itinerary of places to stop all while getting to enjoy a beautiful drive through the High Country. The trails will include stops in Watauga County and Avery County as well as Carter County and Johnson County in Tennessee.
“Last year we were able to pave Buckeye Creek Road on the backside of Beech Mountain. It also opened an economic corridor to Tennesse on the other side of the mountain. It makes a great partnership and should improve the area for all of us,” said Beech Mountain Mayor Barry Kaufman.
Buckeye Creek Road was paved and officially opened in August of 2020, and plans began to pick up speed for the driving trail that is now completed and ready for visitors to enjoy.
“The Hi-Lo trail is something that is going to benefit the town of Beech Mountain and the surrounding communities, and that’s the whole idea,” said Bob Pudney, Beech Mountain’s Town Manager. “The town council saw the benefit in paving that road and opening up the western part of the town to Tennessee. It’s a quick way to get to Johnson City and a quick way to get to Boone. That seemed to be the impetus to bring all of this together and we are just continually building on that. So when you come to Beech Mountain and spend the night and you want something to do the next day, you can go out and have a good time and come back and spend the night with us.”
Finding ways to give Beech Mountain visitors more things to do while they are in town has been an important goal for the town’s tourism development authority.
“It’s a way to distribute our enormous wealth of tourists that come up here. We appreciate them very much but we want to give them more to do. They are able to go out and see the surrounding countryside and bring some wealth to those communities as well,” said Kate Gavenus, the Director of Beech Mountain TDA.
One of the stops in Eastern Tennessee that will benefit greatly from the Hi-Lo Trail will be Pioneer Landing, the easternmost marina on Watauga Lake.
“There is a perfect opportunity to enhance tourism here by having the two areas tied up. Beech Mountain is getting congested and what they want to do is spread some of their tourism down to us,” said Dan Livorsi, owner of Pioneer Landing. “The availability of a lake which is right next to a beautiful ski mountain allows you to have two different seasons to do fishing, hiking, biking and boating here and skiing there. We are trying to develop a four-season resort at our place.”
Pioneer Landing has been in the Watauga River Valley since the turn of the century. It was a former outpost for when logging crews came in and logged Beech Mountain. When the Tennessee Valley Authority made the decision to build the Watauga Dam in 1942, the town of Butler was relocated and the area then was inundated. That was the creation of Watauga Lake.
“It turned into an ideal place for fish when they created the lake,” Livorsi said.
Dan and his wife Deanna have owned Pioneer Landing since 1988, which included a store that the couple operated until their children were born in the late 1990s.
In addition to fishing and boating, camping has become a big part of what Pioneer Landing has to offer. Many campers have been spending their summers there for over a decade and the location has become a popular camping site from April through October.
You can find a map of each trail and information about some of the stops along the trails here.
Photos from the Hi-Lo Adventure Trail merchant expo held on Thursday in Beech Mountain