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Holston Mountain 20 Mile



20.8 mile 33.5 kilometer loop
81% Runnable


Ascent: 4,809' 1,466 m
Descent: -4,810' -1,466 m
High: 4,180' 1,274 m
Low: 1,965' 599 m


Avg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 67% (34°)


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Trail shared by Jason Tipton

A challenging 20 mile run with a good amount of elevation gain.

Jason Tipton

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Wildlife


While this run is not an easy undertaking, runners will be rewarded for their efforts with views from Holston Mountain and Flint Mill Rock.

Runner Notes

This route incorporates sections of the Phantom 50k race, a low-key race that took place in 2016 and 2017. The race got its name from an RF-4C "Phantom" fighter jet that crashed on Holston Mountain in 1976. There is a memorial on Panhandle Road between Low Gap and Taylor Ridge Trail #2025.


The starting point is in a small field just off John Alfred Loop (US-91). The run begins with a modest climb up Hinkle Branch Trail, gaining 2,000' in the first 3 miles. The next 1.3 miles are an easy run along Panhandle Road, passing the memorial for the two airmen killed when their Phantom jet crashed on the mountain.

Turn left onto the Morrell Trail #47 and enjoy the next 2 miles of switchbacks descending the other side of Holston Mountain. The views are nice heading down this trail. The trail intersects the Flatwoods Horse Trail and then comes out on Big Creek Road about a half mile further. Turn right onto Big Creek Road and continue 0.4 miles to an intersection.

Turn right onto Flatwoods Road. The next 3 miles are easy miles along the gravel road. Be on the lookout for the Flint Mill Trail on the right. If you come to another intersection in the road, you've gone about a quarter mile too far. Turn right onto Flint Mill Trail. The next 1 mile is a doozy of a climb, gaining 1,200'... the first half mile is a gradual climb (20% grad max), but the next half mile is very steep. Flint Mill Rock is a good resting spot after the strenuous climb and offers and incredible view of South Holston Lake!

Continue about 0.4 miles on Flint Rock Trail, and it will intersect the Holston Mountain Trail #44. Turn right onto Holston Mountain Trail and follow it along the top of the mountain for 2 miles (seems so much longer than two miles!). The trail leads to the fire tower.

From the tower, follow Panhandle Road for 2.3 miles and turn left onto Taylor Ridge Trail #2025 (directly across from Morrell Trail). The next 4 miles are a steady descend off the mountain. There are a few creek crossings near the bottom. The trail comes out at an open field, but it's not the same field of the course start. Take the connector trail to the right, and it will continue about 1 mile and get you back to the starting point.

History & Background

Not only is Holston Mountain the location of the Phantom jet crash in 1976, it is the transmitting site for five televisions stations in the Tri Cities, three FM radio stations, and several amateur radios. Many of the towers can be seen along Panhandle Road.

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in Tennessee


72 Views Last Month
718 Since Feb 15, 2019



Flint Mill Trail is quite the climb, but the view is so worth it!
Feb 14, 2019 near Bluff City, TN
Flint Mill Gap offers a spectacular autumn view of South Holston Lake.
Jan 17, 2017 near Bluff City, TN
Looking over S. Holston Lake
Nov 9, 2017 near Bluff City, TN
Fire tower top of the access road
Nov 9, 2017 near Hunter, TN
The Flint Mill Trail Trailhead is often leafy, but always gorgeous.
Jan 17, 2017 near Bluff City, TN
Checking out the tree tepee.
Feb 15, 2019 near Bluff City, TN


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