No other state is known for the abundance of mountain terrain than Tennessee. It is an outdoor enthusiasts’ paradise. Most of the terrain is covered in waterfalls, streams, forests, and what would be of particular interest to mountain bikers is the rocky and steep terrain.
The Appalachian Mountains that dominate the eastern part of the state have the best grueling up and down courses. What’s more the Mississippi River, which covers the western part of the state, lures riders that are looking to tackle a whole array of technical challenges.
Tennessee features several geographical regions, The Cumberland Plateau, Valley Region, Appalachian Ridge, The Blue Ridge Mountains, The Gulf Coastal Plain, and the Nashville Basin. All of these regions feature mountain biking courses for novice, intermediate, and expert riders.
What this means is that there are plenty of places where you can put your biking skills to the test. There are many challenging trails that will work well especially for experienced riders. Whoever, there is no need to worry even if you are a first-time rider there are marked terrains that will suit your terrain.
1. Big South Fork National River and Recreational Area, Oneida
If you are a beginner and you are just getting used to your first mountain bike trail, then this is one of the greatest places to start from. Big South has a recreational area known as Grand Loop that is one of the best places for starters. It has a flat and smooth terrain with very few obstacles. Additionally, it is only 6.4 miles long, has plenty of beautiful sights including thick forests, and the trail’s tendency to trace its way alongside the cliff edges. Nonetheless, the cliff edges are not too close for comfort.
You should start at the trailhead that is near the spot where the Grand Gap intersects with the John Muir Trail and take a counterclockwise ride up the shallow climb. The climb flattens out and rewards you with views of the majestic river and a nice and easy ride.
2. Chickasaw Trace
Located a few miles from the city of Columbia, Chickasaw Trace which is an eight-mile course is one of the most popular in Tennessee. Every year the course hosts a fun race known as Chickasaw Trace Classic that attracts bikers from throughout the state.
The trail starts on a stretch of flat and fairly fast singletrack terrain. This gives the riders a chance to warm before they hit the more technical sections of the course. Once you are ready, you will start with a section of the course known as the Black Trail and Trail of Tears, which will encompass some tough climbs, fast, twisty switchbacks, and rapid descents. Additionally, there will be a few obstacles and impediments that will help keep the course interesting.
The Chickasaw Trace Trail covers an area of approximately 300 acres and is found on the banks of the Duck River on a tributary known as Knob Creek. The trail is maintained by the local mountain biking club. The club is able to maintain the trail with the help of the Adopt-A-Trail volunteers.
3. White Oak Mountain
The trails at White Oak Mountain are famously known as “Biology Trails” and are located in the small city of Collegedale (Hamilton County), TN. It is a suburb in Chattanooga that is part of Chattanooga TN Metropolitan Statistical Area and rated as one of the safest in the state.
White Oak Mountain offers over 19 miles of varied trails that offer bike riders a well-rounded experience one that ranges from steep climbs, rolling hills, and fun descents to technical single tracks. All of the trails are set against a backdrop of the stunning Ooltewah Valley.
The Biology Trails are located on the west side of the Southern Adventist University’s Campus behind the high ropes course and the Outdoor Education Center. There are many trailheads from where you can start. Nonetheless, the most popular is the one located on University Drive as it also serves as the main park entrance.
The trails are made up of a stacked loop system with the easiest one close to the parking lot and the difficult ones further away. Riders have an opportunity to take a short 15-minute ride or opt for the long ones that will take several hours.
Overall, the trails at White Oak Mountain are intermediate in terms of difficulty and you visit the park throughout the year. What adds to the popularity of the trails is that there is no entry fee. Moreover, you do not need to have a permit to access White Oak Mountain.
For those who have dogs, the park is dog-friendly. The courses are open till late at night and they are open every day of the week making it ideal for night riding.
4. Enterprise South Nature Park, Chattanooga
Enterprise South in the Chattanooga area boasts around 10 miles of mountainous trails that are great for MTB enthusiasts. You can choose from three trails in the park, they are:
5. Black Forest Mountain Bike Trail
Black forest mountain bike trail is a 70.3 kilometer moderately trafficked located in Tennessee. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until late September.
Dogs are also allowed on the trail but they should always be on a leash. The perfect combination of highs and lows makes it perfect for mountain bike trails. Additionally, the Loop has many campsites and one of the best is the Great Waterfalls that has all the necessary amenities. The downside of the park has cooler weather and shortened daylight. The cool weather offers some of the best conditions for mountain riding.
For the riders who are looking for the real thrill black forest mountain bike trail has some really rugged sections with rocks, roots, some elevation changes, and very steep sections.
6. TNT Mountain Bike Trail
TNT Mountain Bike Trail is located in Hamilton County’s Enterprise South Nature Park in Chattanooga, TN. The trail is near the Volkswagen plant. You can easily access it from the ADA trailhead on the Still Hollow Loop Road along with the Black Forest Mountain Bike Trail. As you ride down the paved ADA trail, you will find the start of the TNT Mountain Bike Trail on the right.
The main part of the trail is not technical, but it will still work you out. Though it has a smooth natural surface there are many climbs and descents. The trail moves through dense pine and hardwood forest up and down many times that you will begin to lose track of how many climbs and downhills you have done.
TNT bike trail has a bailout point which is about a third of the way down the trail that provides an exit to the Harrison Branch Road. The trail continues left at the fork and it will generally give you more of what you have already experienced. You can do the TNT Mountain Bike Trail in a stacked loop with Black Forest Mountain Bike Trail and the Log Rhythm Mountain Bike Trail for a 9-mile ride.
7. Log Rhythm Mountain Bike Trail
Log rhythm is a 3-mile single track that is located in Chattanooga Tennessee. You can use the mountain bike trail in either direction and it has an easy overall physical rating. On average you should take about 17 minutes to complete the trail.
8. Thunder Rock Express
Thunder Rock Express is situated in the town of Ocoee, Tennessee. The trail is a short and difficult trail that measures 1.5 miles and is rated advanced. The course is intended for very experienced riders only.
Generally, many riders consider it the most difficult trails in the Tennessee background. What’s more, the course has both man-made and naturally occurring obstacles including bridges, roots, rocks, drop-offs and more. All in all, the trail is one of the most beautiful courses and it is mainly built for competitive games, not only in Tennessee but for the entire country.
Thunder Rock Express is all downhill and features loose shale terrain, awesome jumps, deep gravity wells, off-camber turns, two fun bridges, and sharp and twisty turns that can be extremely wet. Bikers describe the course as “blazing fast” ride. It is chunky and rough while smooth and flowing in others.
All riders are warned and urged to be very careful with their speed. Some sections of the trail are narrow and precarious and this leaves riders exposed to very dangerous falls if you are riding too fast. Being one of the most advanced courses in Tennessee, you will enjoy daredevil stunts and get to test your speed limits as you go down the mountain in pure ecstasy.
9. Urban Wilderness, Knoxville
Urban Wilderness, Knoxville is one of the trails that will offer you many options when it comes to outdoor recreational activities. The urban Wilderness is a whooping 35 miles that has multi-use trails that will offer you a web of mostly closed loop for a solid intermediate ride. The loops are strategically placed around the central artery.
You should ensure you visit the 12.5 mile south loop for a solid intermediate ride that will offer you with technical offshoots that you should explore if you are looking for a greater challenge. Additionally, the trail has the Mead’s Quarry Loop that is 6.6 miles long within the Ijams Nature Center. This is one loop that is worth Quad-burning climbs in, or the trails in the William Hastie Natural Area, especially, the short (0.4 miles) but technical View Park trail.
10. Cane Ridge
Cane Ridge is located in Antioch, Tennessee. It is a two-mile course designed specifically for novice riders. It features many twists and turns, and gullies and small climbs. Riding at Cane Ridge is a great way to get much-needed exercise while enjoying the Tennessee scenery and sunshine.
Locals of Antioch refer to Cane Ridge as an outdoor paradise. The trail is spacious and has a mildly undulated terrain that is perfect for those new to mountain biking. Nonetheless, despite the peaceful track that is framed with cool waters, rolling hills, and an endless sky. The trail has several semi-challenging obstacles that include roots, rocks, jumps and a bit of downhill speed. All of these are designed to help beginners to accustom themselves to the Tennessee terrain.
Moreover, it prepares the riders for more challenging and difficult courses.
11. Raccoon Mountain Trail Network
Raccoon Mountain Trail Network is located 15 minutes from downtown Chattanooga. The Network has several fun and scenic trails that circle the TVA Raccoon Mountain. Collectively, the courses which are some of the most popular in the state offer a wide range of riding terrains and environment. Some of them are designed and intended for experienced riders only. However, there a few wide and rather even trails that are beginner- rider-friendly, as they do not have much elevation.
The Raccoon Mountain Trail Network is open from dusk to dawn all year round and it is as a result of a direct innovative partnership between the IMBA-SORBA Chattanooga chapter and the Tennessee Valley Authority. The trail is well designed and has a well-maintained network of trails. The good management has transformed what was once underused mountain terrain into a well-liked recreation area and a mountain biking paradise.
More than 75 percent of the trails at Raccoon Mountain are for advanced riders, and none of them is directional. You will hardly notice even when the parking lot is full as the trail is so extensive. The courses at the park will offer you many fast-flowing single tracks, a couple of descents, and fitness building climbs that will demand your full attention.
If you are one who likes roots, rocks, and other technical challenges you will love Raccoon Mountain as it has plenty of them. Additionally, the trail has many amenities that lineup throughout the course. They include bike washing stations, restrooms, picnic areas, repair stands, and ample parking. All of these amenities are easy to access from any of the routes you choose to follow.
Now that you know that Tennessee is a haven for mountain biking what are you waiting for. Grab your bike and invite friends and family for some mountain biking as you enjoy the beautiful scenery and outdoors of Tennessee. There is something for everyone from amateur riders to the most advanced riders.