Endless Exploration

Mountain Range

The Southern Blue Ridge Mountains are full of beautiful backroads that wind in and out of the Cherokee National Forest east of Chattanooga, offering endless opportunities for exploration! To help sort through all the options, we've provided some of our favorite bikepacking and gravel bike routes below.

 

We've arranged the routes based on their proximity to the three rivers that define this region, with the Ocoee to the south, the Tellico to the north, and the Hiwassee in the middle. (For less challenging routes, please see the Chattanooga section at the bottom of the page.)

If you're new to bikepacking, we highly recommend you check out this primer from our friends at Bikepacking.com: https://bikepacking.com/bikepacking-101

Cell Service

Cell service is limited or nonexistent on most of these routes. Please come prepared with an emergency plan that does not depend on a cell phone!

Horses

Many of these backroads are also used for horseback riding. If you encounter a horse, please stop and dismount until the horse has passed. Horses can be extremely skittish around bikes.

Traffic

Although the forest service roads may seem incredibly remote and untraveled, they do occasionally have vehicles. So please stay in your lane and don't cheat on the blind curves!

Liability

We're offering these routes as a free service and in no way assume any liability for your experience in choosing to ride them. Be safe and have fun out there!

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Mountain Range

OCOEE REGION

Click on the maps for a downloadable Ride With GPS file.

Ocoee 15.jpg

OCOEE: 15 miles/2100 ft

  • Oswald, Clear Creek

  • 95% unpaved.

  • Park at Chilhowee Recreation Area. $3 for parking. Flush toilets available. More info.

  • The best way to reach the ride start is to drive up Oswald Road (off of Hwy 64). Be sure to stop at the overlooks on your way up the mountain for some amazing views! The other way up the mountain is Benton Springs Road, which is steep and unpaved. (If you're looking for bonus miles, you could start in Benton and ride your bike up this 3-mile climb!)

  • This ride can be combined with an easy hike to Benton Falls which starts from the Chilhowee Recreation Area parking lot. Only 3 miles round-trip with a beautiful 65-foot waterfall as the payoff!

  • Chilhowee Rcreation Area also has mountain bike trails! More info.

  • Although not very long, this is a challenging route with steep climbing and descending. (Skipping the big descent and climb and simply riding it as an out & back reduces the mileage to 9.5 and the climbing to 1400 feet.)

Ocoee 27.jpg

OCOEE: 27 miles/2,700 ft

  • Baker Creek, Peavine Sneed Creek, Sheeds Creek, Sina Branch.

  • 90% unpaved.

  • Park at King's Slough Boat Ramp. $3 for parking. Pit toilet available.

  • Don't zoom past the beautiful roadside waterfall at Mile 10.7! It's definitely worth a stop.

Ocoee 46.jpg

OCOEE: 46 miles/5,800 ft

  • Parksville Lake, Peavine Sneed Creek, Big Frog, Sheeds Creek, Sina Branch.

  • 95% unpaved.

  • Park at King's Slough Boat Ramp. $3 for parking. Pit toilet available.

Death March.jpg

BIKEPACKING:

73 miles/9,200

  • The "Death March" (bikepacking version)

  • 100% unpaved.

  • Park at Ocoee Whitewater Center. $3 for parking. The Center has indoor restrooms but is open seasonally. The pit toilets located in the picnic area are available year round. More info.

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BIKEPACKING:

99 miles/13,900 ft

  • "The Revival"

  • 100% unpaved.

  • Park at Ocoee Whitewater Center. $3 for parking. The Center has indoor restrooms but is open seasonally. The pit toilets located in the picnic area are available year round. More info. (You can also run this route starting at the south end and leaving from Mulberry Gap Adventure Base Camp.)

Ocoee 24.jpg

OCOEE: 24 miles/2,800 ft

  • Parksville Lake, Peavine Sneed Creek, Baker Creek.

  • 90% unpaved.

  • Park at King's Slough Boat Ramp. $3 for parking. Pit toilet available.

  • Watch out for the right turn at Mile 12.5. It's easy to miss!

Ocoee 36.jpg

OCOEE: 36 miles/4,400 ft

  • Baker Creek, Peavine Sneed Creek, Big Frog, Sheeds Creek, Sina Branch.

  • 90% unpaved.

  • Park at King's Slough Boat Ramp. $3 for parking. Pit toilet available.

  • Don't zoom past the beautiful roadside waterfall at Mile 19.1! It's definitely worth a stop.

Ocoee 48.jpg

OCOEE: 48 miles/5,800

  • Baker Creek, FS 221.

  • 95% unpaved.

  • Park at King's Slough Boat Ramp. $3 for parking. Pit toilet available.

  • While we generally avoid out & back routes, this one is worth it since it takes you to a fun destination at the Ocoee Whitewater Center.

Ocoee 76.jpg

OCOEE: 76 miles/9,400 ft

  • The "Death March!"

  • 100% unpaved.

  • Park at Ocoee Whitewater Center. $3 for parking. The Center has indoor restrooms but is open seasonally. The pit toilets located in the picnic area are available year round. More info.

Ocoee DMR modified.jpg

OCOEE REGION ITT CHALLENGE: Death March Revival

Mountain Range

HIWASSEE REGION

Click on the maps for a downloadable Ride With GPS file.

Hiwassee 13.jpg

HIWASSEE: 13 miles/700 ft

  • Spring Creek

  • 95% unpaved.

  • Park at Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park. Its free to park there (as long as you're not staying out past dark), and they have restrooms at the ranger station. The wooden structure near the ranger station is all that's left of Fort Marr and dates back to 1814!

  • The route is a simple out & back and is a great ride for beginner gravel cyclists and those just wanting a relaxed ride with some beautiful scenery along the Hiwassee River and Spring Creek.

  • If you want more challenge, take a detour up Tinker Creek Road (around mile 5), which is a gorgeous little road with some steep pitches. The out & back on Tinker Creek adds roughly two and a half miles and 250 feet of climbing.

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HIWASSEE: 32 miles/3,200 ft

  • Fingerboard (long section), Fingerboard (short section).

  • 30% unpaved.

  • Park at Hiwassee State Scenic River Boat Ramp in Reliance. No parking fee. Pit toilet available.

Hiwassee 41.jpg

HIWASSEE: 41 miles/5,300 ft

  • Powerhouse, Wolf Creek, Smith Mtn, Lost Creek.

  • 85% unpaved.

  • Park at Hiwassee State Scenic River Boat Ramp in Reliance. No parking fee. Pit toilet available.

  • Don't miss the scenic overlook of the Hiwassee River at Mile 2.6. It's on the right as you crest the climb.

  • The suspension bridge over the Hiwassee River at Mile 5.5 is perfect for pictures.

  • The Smith Mountain Overlook offers a beautiful view of the mountains.

Hiwassee 45.jpg

HIWASSEE: 45 miles/4,700 ft

  • Starr Mtn, Ivy, Fingerboard (long section).

  • 40% unpaved.

  • Park at Hiwassee State Scenic River Boat Ramp in Reliance. No parking fee. Pit toilet available.

Hiwassee 47.jpg

HIWASSEE: 47 miles/6,000 ft

  • Powerhouse, Wolf Creek, Kimsey Mtn, Lost Creek.

  • 85% unpaved.

  • Park at Hiwassee State Scenic River Boat Ramp in Reliance. No parking fee. Pit toilet available.

  • Don't miss the scenic overlook of the Hiwassee River at Mile 2.6. It's on the right as you crest the climb.

  • The suspension bridge over the Hiwassee River at Mile 5.5 is perfect for pictures.

  • Keep an eye out for the right turn at Mile 28.6 as you bomb down Kimsey Mountain!

Hiwassee 51.jpg

HIWASSEE: 51 miles/5,400 ft

  • Powerhouse, Wolf Creek, McFarland, Buck Bald, Unicoi Gap (single track), Fingerboard (short section).

  • 50% unpaved.

  • Park at Hiwassee State Scenic River Boat Ramp in Reliance. No parking fee. Pit toilet available.

  • Don't miss the scenic overlook of the Hiwassee River at Mile 2.6. It's on the right as you crest the climb.

  • The suspension bridge over the Hiwassee River at Mile 5.5 is perfect for pictures.

  • The Buck Bald out & back at Mile 25.7 is totally worth the effort. The 360 degree view of the mountains from the top of the bald is amazing!

  • This route includes a 3-mile section of single track starting at Mile 27.2 that is beautiful but challenging and may require some hike-a-bike.

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BIKEPACKING:

92 miles/10,900 ft

  • Lost Creek, Wolf Creek, Wolf Creek, Buck Bald, Unicoi Gap (single track), Fingerboard (long section), Ivy, Bullet Creek, White Cliffs, Starr Mountain.

  • 70% unpaved.

  • Park at Hiwassee State Scenic River Boat Ramp in Reliance. No parking fee. Pit toilet available.

  • The Buck Bald out & back at Mile 31.4 is totally worth the effort. The 360 degree view of the mountains from the top of the bald is amazing!

  • This route includes a 3-mile section of single track starting at Mile 32.9 that is beautiful but challenging and may require some hike-a-bike.

  • The three mile White Cliffs section starting at Mile 72.7 is a rough horse trail and can be overgrown in the summer. It's great in the winter though when the vegetation dies back and the panoramic views really open up! (Even with the leaves there are still some great views at a couple of overlooks.)

Hiwassee 24.jpg

HIWASSEE: 24 miles/2,900 ft

  • Powerhouse, Lost Creek.

  • 70% unpaved.

  • Park at Hiwassee State Scenic River Boat Ramp in Reliance. No parking fee. Pit toilet available.

  • Don't miss the scenic overlook of the Hiwassee River at Mile 2.6. It's on the right as you crest the climb.

  • The suspension bridge over the Hiwassee River at Mile 5.5 is perfect for pictures.

Hiwassee 37.jpg

HIWASSEE: 37 miles/3,600 ft

  • Starr Mtn, Ivy, Fingerboard (short section).

  • 40% unpaved.

  • Park at Hiwassee State Scenic River Boat Ramp in Reliance. No parking fee. Pit toilet available.

Hiwassee 44.jpg

HIWASSEE: 44 miles/5,500 ft

  • Powerhouse, Smith Mtn, Kimsey Mtn, Lost Creek.

  • 85% unpaved.

  • Park at Hiwassee State Scenic River Boat Ramp in Reliance. No parking fee. Pit toilet available.

  • Don't miss the scenic overlook of the Hiwassee River at Mile 2.6. It's on the right as you crest the climb.

  • The suspension bridge over the Hiwassee River at Mile 5.5 is perfect for pictures.

  • The Smith Mountain Overlook offers a beautiful view of the mountains.

  • Keep an eye out for the right turn at Mile 26.3 as you bomb down Kimsey Mountain!

Hiwassee 45.jpg

HIWASSEE: 46 miles/5,600 ft

  • Lost Creek, Kimsey Mtn, McFarland, Buck Bald, Fingerboard (long section).

  • 65% unpaved.

  • Park at Hiwassee State Scenic River Boat Ramp in Reliance. No parking fee. Pit toilet available.

  • Don't miss the scenic overlook of the Hiwassee River at Mile 2.6. It's on the right as you crest the climb.

  • The suspension bridge over the Hiwassee River at Mile 5.5 is perfect for pictures.

  • The Buck Bald out & back at Mile 25.7 is totally worth the effort. The 360 degree view of the mountains from the top of the bald is amazing!

Hiwassee 48.jpg

HIWASSEE: 48 miles/4,800

  • Starr Mtn, White Cliffs, Ivy, Fingerboard (short section).

  • 50% unpaved.

  • Park at Hiwassee State Scenic River Boat Ramp in Reliance. No parking fee. Pit toilet available.

  • The three mile section starting at Mile 14.4 is a very rough horse trail and can be overgrown in the summer. It's great in the winter though when the vegetation dies back and the panoramic views really open up!

Hiwassee 55.jpg

HIWASSEE: 55 miles/5,900 ft

  • Starr Mtn, White Cliffs, Ivy, Fingerboard (long section).

  • 50% unpaved.

  • Park at Hiwassee State Scenic River Boat Ramp in Reliance. No parking fee. Pit toilet available.

  • The three mile section starting at Mile 14.4 is a very rough horse trail and can be overgrown in the summer. It's great in the winter though when the vegetation dies back and the panoramic views really open up!

Hiwassee 68.jpg

HIWASSEE: 68 miles/7,900 ft

  • This route could work as a BIKEPACKING trip as well as a day trip.

  • Lost Creek, Kimsey Mtn, McFarland, Buck Bald, Unicoi Gap (single track), Fingerboard (short section).

  • 70% unpaved.

  • Park at Hiwassee State Scenic River Boat Ramp in Reliance. No parking fee. Pit toilet available.

  • The Buck Bald out & back at Mile 42.0 is totally worth the effort. The 360 degree view of the mountains from the top of the bald is amazing!

  • This route includes a 3-mile section of single track starting at Mile 43.3 that is beautiful but challenging and may require some hike-a-bike.

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HIWASSEE REGION ITT CHALLENGE: Dirty 130

Mountain Range

TELLICO REGION

Click on the maps for a downloadable Ride With GPS file.

Tellico 31.jpg

TELLICO: 31 miles/3,900 ft

  • Indian Boundary, Doublecamp, Cold Spring, Citico.

  • 99% unpaved.

  • Park at Indian Boundary Recreaiton Area. $3 for parking. Flush and pit toilets available. General store open seasonally. More info.

Tellico 52.jpg

TELLICO: 51 miles/4,600 ft

  • Indian Boundary, Citico, Mt Pleasant, Buck Hwy, Chestnut Valley, Cane Creek.

  • 50% unpaved.

  • Park at Indian Boundary Recreaiton Area. $3 for parking. Flush and pit toilets available. General store open seasonally. More info.

Tellico 2.jpg

BIKEPACKING:

60 miles/5,900 ft

  • River Road, Turkey Creek, Indian Boundary, Doublecamp, Cold Spring, Citico, Rafter Road.

  • 65% unpaved.

  • Park at the Cherohala Skyway Visitors Center. The parking is free but you should let the visitors center staff know that your vehicle will be there overnight. They are cycling friendly. Clean restrooms inside the visitors center.

  • The first 5 miles are beautiful as you ride along the Tellico River, but you may have some traffic on this stretch.

  • Bald River Falls is a beautiful roadside waterfall just a couple miles off the route. Stay on River Road at Mile 9.2 rather than turning left for the short out & back.

Tellico 37.jpg

TELLICO: 37 miles/4,200 ft

  • Bald River, Waucheesi Bald, River Road.

  • 65% unpaved.

  • Park at Oosterneck Overlook. There is no parking fee, but there are also no facilities. It is simply a pullout at the base of the Cherohala Skyway. If you're looking for facilities, stop at the Cherohala Skyway Visitors Center or the Cherohala Market in Tellico Plains.

  • The Waucheesi Bald out & back at Mile 9.3 has a great view at the top, but it's very challenging and should not be taken lightly. Skipping the climb reduces the route by roughly two and a half miles and 800 feet of climbing.

  • The Green Cove Lake out & back at Mile 19.2 is also pretty steep, but it's only a little over a mile total with 150 feet of climbing.

Tellico 51.jpg

TELLICO: 52 miles/6,600 ft

  • Bald River, River Road, Cherohala Skyway, Turkey Creek.

  • 50% unpaved.

  • Park at Oosterneck Overlook. There is no parking fee, but there are also no facilities. It is simply a pullout at the base of the Cherohala Skyway. If you're looking for facilities, stop at the Cherohala Skyway Visitors Center or the Cherohala Market in Tellico Plains.

  • The descent down the Cherohala Skyway is fast and fun, but the overlooks on the way down are well worth stopping for!

  • Bald River Falls is a beautiful roadside waterfall just a couple miles off the route. Take a left at Mile 46.9 for the short out & back.

Tellico 1.jpg

BIKEPACKING:

95 miles/10,900 ft

  • "Tellico Highlands" (bikepacking version)

  • Bald River, North River Road, Cherohala Skyway, Indian Boundary, Doublecamp, Cold Spring, Citico, Turkey Creek, River Road.

  • 75% unpaved.

  • Park at the Cherohala Skyway Visitors Center. The parking is free but you should let the visitors center staff know that your vehicle will be there overnight. They are cycling friendly. Clean restrooms inside the visitors center.

  • The first and last 5 miles are beautiful as you ride along the Tellico River, but you may have some traffic on this stretch.

  • The descent down the Cherohala Skyway is fast and fun, but the overlooks on the way down are well worth stopping for!

  • Bald River Falls is a beautiful roadside waterfall just a couple miles off the route. Take a left at Mile 85.7 on River Road for the short out & back.

Tellico Highlands modified.jpg

TELLICO REGION ITT CHALLENGE: Tellico Highlands

Mountain Range

CHATTANOOGA

Click on the maps for a downloadable Ride With GPS file.

Chattanooga Reflection Riding.jpg

REFLECTION RIDING:

8 miles/400 ft

For more information about Reflection Riding Arboretum and Wildlife Center please see: https://reflectionriding.org

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GUILD TRAIL:

17 miles/1,500 ft

For a detailed description, along with potential ride modifications, please see: http://scenicbikeways.com/tennessee-river-basin/guild

Chattanooga Prentice Cooper.jpg

PRENTICE COOPER:

25 miles/2,000 ft

For a detailed description, along with potential ride modifications, please see: http://scenicbikeways.com/tennessee-river-basin/prentice