Epic Bikepacking Adventure!
Bikepacking at its best! Take a journey through the deep woods and beautiful backroads of the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains on a bikepacking route like no other: THREE RIVERS WAY! Named for the three rivers that define this gorgeous landscape - the Ocoee, Hiwassee & Tellico - Three Rivers Way is truly a bucket-list bikepacking adventure. With two distances to choose from, you'll discover a carefully crafted course designed to maximize your experience both on and off the bike. Ride it solo or join us for the annual Grand Depart. Either way, you'll find breathtaking views and stunning scenery on this adventure of a lifetime!
The VISTA uses the best singletrack, gravel, and tarmac that the Cherokee National Forest and the surrounding area have to offer to showcase the beauty of the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains.
The MOUNTAIN is an expanded version of the Vista route that includes the deep woods of the Chattahoochee National Forest in north Georgia.
Click on the maps above to see the complete Ride With GPS files which have downloadable GPX files. These routes were designed by Kim Murrell of Chilhowee Outdoors, an accomplished bikepacker who understands firsthand what makes for a great bikepacking experience. We're excited to have Kim on the team and look forward to introducing Three Rivers Way to an even bigger audience of bikepacking enthusiasts!
While the annual mid-May Grand Depart is a great opportunity to share the experience of bikepacking Three Rivers Way, the routes can be ridden solo anytime. If you'd like to have your results officially verified and posted on this page, you can register below to ride the routes as an Individual Time Trial.
The next Grand Depart is scheduled for 6:30 a.m. on May 15, 2021.
Individual Time Trials may be ridden anytime. Just make sure you've registered with us prior to your ride.
There is no charge for participating in the Grand Depart or riding the routes as an Individual Time Trial, but you must register below. (If you feel inspired to contribute to the promotion of bikepacking in the Three Rivers region and the development of bikepacking routes, please use the form below to make a donation to the cause!)
Parking is available for $3/day at Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park where the official routes start. Riders will need to check in at the park office and register prior to parking. Please park along the fence row within the group camp gates.
The $3/day fee includes use of shower and restroom facilities, but does not include campsites, which need to be reserved separately. Click here for more information about camping at Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park.
SUPPORT & WAYFINDING
Riding Three Rivers Way is a self-supported endeavor, both individually or as part of the Grand Depart. It is imperative that you familiarize yourself with the route prior to attempting the ride and that you prepare a nutrition & hydration plan. There are no aid stations, wayfinding or support on the course. Please note that the majority of roads on the route (especially in the national forest) do not have signs.
There are two ways to have your time verified. You can submit a Strava file to us after the ride or you can set up tracking with Trackleaders.com which will allow your friends and family to watch your progress "live" during your ride. Please contact Trackleaders at least a week prior to your intended ride date. (Allow more time if you need to rent a "Spot" tracking device from them.)
Stay up to date on he Grand Depart, individual time trials, route conditions, and other Three Rivers Way news by joining our Facebook group!
The Grand Depart and the verification of Individual Time Trials are conducted entirely by volunteers, as is the maintenance of the routes. There is no charge to ride the routes or participate in the Grand Depart. However, registration is required if you plan to participate in the Grand Depart or ride the routes as an Individual Time Trial, and donations are encouraged to support our efforts to promote and expand bikepacking and cycling adventure in the region through infrastructure improvements and fun events such as the Grand Depart!
Registration for the 2021 Grand Depart will be open soon!
As the official start & finish of Three Rivers Way, the Ocoee/Hiwassee Scenic River State Park is the obvious choice for where to stay, especially if you're participating in the Grand Depart, but if you're looking for an upgrade from camping, or would rather camp elsewhere, there are plenty of other great options in the area!
What's it like to ride Three Rivers Way? Get a glimpse into this beautiful, gut-wrenching, often life-changing experience by reading accounts form veteran riders below. (For more stories, along with some pro tips, check out the Bikepacking page!)
MOUNTAIN: Ryan Smith, 2020
Before moving to Cleveland, TN several years ago, my cycling was done mainly on the paved roads of Florida. Since then I’ve been introduced to the world of off road riding - that is, mountain biking, true mountain biking...in the mountains. I’d done road rides across Florida and around the beautiful lakes of central Florida. But none of that would prepare me for the riding I would do here in the mountains of TN, GA, and NC. It was a new game and I was starting from the bottom. (still there) Enter the Three Rivers Way Vista 300/Mountain 420. Last year I had some tire troubles. This year I wanted to do this thing and do it the right way... READ MORE
VISTA: Brad Beadles, 2019
Hey y'all, my name is Brad and I'm a mountain biker living in Atlanta, Georgia. I recently participated in an endurance bikepacking event called the Vista 300. The route that starts and ends in Reliance, TN and generally stays within the confines of the Cherokee National Forest, making stops through Tellico Plains, McCaysville, Ducktown and Benton, TN. Because it stays in national forest land, the route stays pretty remote. Often, there were long stretches of gravel roads... READ MORE
FASTEST KNOWN TIMES
Jon Livengood: 1d-17h-25m
Dave Chen: 3d-3h-45m
- Ryan Smith: 6d-13h-45m
- No riders have finished thus far.
SCRATCHED: 14 riders
MOUNTAIN GRAND DEPART
- Dave Chen: 3d-9h-31m *
- Graham Skardon: 3d-18h-26m *
- Sara Dallman: 4d-7h-07m *
- Betsy Schauer: 4d-13h-30m
- Travis Stevens: 4d-13h-30m
- Scotty Hilgenfeldt: 5d-18h-21m
- Jason Vance: 6d-6h-42m
- Ryan Smith: 6d-16h-35m *
VISTA GRAND DEPART
- Brad Beadles: 2d-5h-30m
- Joe Urbanowicz: 2d-7h-4m *
- Eric Olsen: 2d-22h-18m
- Michael Rasch: 3d-36m *
- Eric Henderson: 3d-39m
- Jacob Spath: 3d-9h-59m
- Brad Mcleod: 3d-17h-47m
- Thierry Crouzet: 4d-7h-01m
- Charles Watkins: 8d-11h-16m
- John Pickron: 8d-11h-16
- Irmantus Lu: 5d-8h-15m
- Irmantus Steiga: 5d-8h-15m
SCRATCHED: 24 riders
•There was an additional challenge added in 2019. Riders could choose to do the Waucheesi Bald KOM. That climb added 825 feet of elevation gain in the 1.5 miles to the summit. There is a star next to the recorded time of the riders on each route that summited first. There is a star next to all the riders who summited.
MOUNTAIN GRAND DEPART
- Dave Chen: 3d-3h-45m (course record)
- Graham Skardon: 4d-10h-10m
VISTA GRAND DEPART
- Jon Livengood: 1d-17h-25m (course record)
- Joe Wharton: 2d-25m
- Chris Joice: 2d-1h-30m
- Stewart Miller: 2d-7h-21m
- Audrey Tangye: 3d-1h-30m
- Betsy Schauer: 3d-2h-09m
- Michael Rasch: 3d-12h-07m
- Austin Shreiner: 4d-7h-04m
- Matthew Liers: 4d-10h-58m
- Dakota Meyer: 4d-12h-01m
- Lee Neal: 3d-9h-35m
- Casper TFG Ortvald: 5d-12h-37m
- Kent Lundager Larson: 5d-12h-37m
- Jheremy Zetans: 2d-8h-50m
- Linda Sledge: 4d-4h-30m
- Celso Rodrigues: 5d-14h-15m
- Nicholas Christopher: 6d-15h-23m
- Jonathan Hicks: 7d-11h-15m *
SCRATCHED: 21 riders
If you want your time recorded on our list of Finishers, you must adhere to the following rules of self support. The intent of this solo self-supported race is to ride the route as fast as possible in the simplest/purist style possible. If you find yourself looking for loopholes, consider taking another year to prepare before racing. Most likely you'll go faster and enjoy it more as a result.
1. You must take a picture of your bike computer right before you start and right after you finish. The pictures need to show the time of day and the mileage.
2. No motorized transport or hitch-hiking. You must complete the route under your own power.
3. No stashed caches along the route.
4. No sharing supplies between riders.
5. No outside assistance with navigation.
6. No pacers.
7. No support crews. You can only receive support from local businesses on-site during their normal business hours.
8. No sharing supplies between riders.
9. During an ITT, assistance with navigation, supplies, or lodging cannot be received from friends, family or private individuals when it's not available to all riders.
10. You must have a contingency plan in place before you start the ride in case of emergency or if you need to quit. You are responsible for your own safety and well-being out there.
TRAIL MAGIC: Trail Magic is an unexpected occurrence that lifts a rider's spirits and inspires awe and gratitude. Obtaining an item from another person can only be unsolicited and accidental, otherwise, the receipt of assistance or supplies by individuals when it's not available to all riders reflects a lack of self sufficiency which renders an effort not self-supported. In short, you can't ask for Trail Magic. You can only pray for it!