• So Much to Explore!

    So Much to Explore!

  • So Much to Explore!

    So Much to Explore!

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 gravel bike routes below. We've arranged them 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.

Follow us on the Tennessee Gravel Facebook page for updates on new routes! Questions? Comments? Suggestions? We'd love to hear from you!

For less challenging routes, please see the Chattanooga section at the bottom of the page.

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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!

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!

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.

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!

PHOTOS! Send us pictures from your rides for posting in the photo gallery at the bottom of the page and on the Tennessee Gravel Facebook page! Email them to shannon@veloviewbiketours.com and include which route you rode. And don't forget to tag your pics with #tennesseegravel on social media!

OCOEE REGION

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OCOEE: 15 miles/2,100 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.)
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

HIWASSEE REGION

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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: 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.
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HIWASSEE: 32 miles/3,200 ft

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HIWASSEE: 37 miles/3,600 ft

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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.
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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!
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HIWASSEE: 45 miles/4,700 ft

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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!
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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!
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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!
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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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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!
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HIWASSEE: 68 miles/7,900 ft

  • 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.

TELLICO REGION

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TELLICO: 31 miles/3,900 ft

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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.
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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.
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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.

CHATTANOOGA

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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

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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

OCOEE: 46 miles

OCOEE: 46 miles

OCOEE: 46 miles

OCOEE: 46 miles

OCOEE: 46 miles

OCOEE: 46 miles

OCOEE: 27 miles

OCOEE: 27 miles

OCOEE: 27 miles

OCOEE: 27 miles

HIWASSEE: 32 miles

HIWASSEE: 32 miles

HIWASSEE: 32 miles

HIWASSEE: 32 miles

HIWASSEE: 24 miles

HIWASSEE: 24 miles

HIWASSEE: 24 miles

HIWASSEE: 24 miles

OCOEE: 27 miles

OCOEE: 27 miles

OCOEE: 27 miles

OCOEE: 27 miles

TELLICO: 37 miles

TELLICO: 37 miles

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