Tennessee is the “Volunteer State” and judging by the quality and creativity of the mountain bike trails found in the state, it’s clear residents take the motto to heart, especially when it comes to trail work.
Topographically speaking, Tennessee sports the mirror image of North Carolina. The Appalachian mountains form the eastern border of Tennessee while the mighty Mississippi River flatly hems in the state on the west side. As such, all the true mountain bike trails are found in the eastern part of the state, though that’s not to say there aren’t pockets of excellent singletrack to be found on the outskirts of Nashville and Memphis.
If you’re looking to explore Tennessee this summer (or heck, even this winter–most trails stay snow-free throughout the year), here are five trails you don’t want to miss.
Chattanooga has an incredibly variety of singletrack located close to town but no trail is as well known–or as well visited–as Raccoon Mountain. The main 15-mile loop, located on top of Raccoon Mountain, winds around the TVA Reservoir and alternates between fast, flowy, wooded singletrack and white knuckle, rocky descents. Be sure to explore the various spur trails off the main loop where you’ll find some of the most fun and creative trails in the southeast.
This trail far exceeded my expectations, which were fairly high already. Probably one of the best trails in Eastern TN/North Georgia area. Very intimidating and technical in places, with plenty or large rock gardens to navigate. Steep switchbacks with concrete grading help minimize dirt and rock sliding. There are plenty of great areas with flowing downhill and rolling jumps, and awesome photo-ops around every corner. Even if you find yourself needing a pit stop or hiking a bit, you’ll never be disappointed with your surroundings. -nohyphens
The Tanasi and Brush Creek trails can be connected together for 30+ miles of singletrack nirvana! Starting at the Ocoee Whitewater Center (home of the 1996 Olympic kayaking competition,) riders can climb the ridges on either side of the river for fantastic views and even more incredible descents. The Thunder Rock Express trail is perhaps the most technical option but even XC riders will have no problem navigating this fun descent. The Cohutta 100 mountain bike race course typically runs through the Tanasi Trail system at the start and finish of the race.
What an awesome trail system. Rode it this weekend at the Black Bear Rampage and it was really great, just a total blast. Flowy, very fast, but technical enough to keep you honest. Awesome ride. -dgaddis
Riders tend to either love or hate the trails at White Oak Mountain. Located on the campus of Southern Adventist University just east of Chattanooga, the lower trails near the trailhead can be confusing and lacking flow. But up higher, the good stuff awaits with a challenging, rocky ridge ride and flowy descents that riders will want to session again and again.
This trail system is great. Big thanks to Friends of White Oak Mtn. for building and maintaining these trails. The fact is there is something here for all riders. Super technical at the top, fast and flowy in the middle and all of it requires you to climb up the mountain to get started. Awesome! Now get out and ride. -corndoggreg
The loops at Warrior’s Path State Park are located on the east side of Fort Patrick Henry Lake, right off I-81 in the far northeast corner of the state. Like many of the trails on this list, the trails at Warrior’s Path State Park range from rocky and technical to flowy and fast!
Most definitely my favorite group of trails in the area. The Boneyard and Darwins Revenge are decent in length with some fast areas and also some slow challenging spots with roots and rocks. Magic Carpet Ride is by far the most fun trail. These trails are well marked and well kept. Try it out, you won’t be disappointed. -cannondalef509
Haw Ridge Park is located just west of Knoxville along the Clinch River and boasts 25 miles of trails. Riders can get in thousands of feet of climbing along the way plus techie root and rock sections to keep things interesting.
Haw Ridge is not perfect, but by all means very comprehensive. Varied terrain, canopied, water, rocks, roots, soil, easy, and “holy shit do I have enough brakes for this descent!” -Michael Osborne
Have you mountain biked in Tennessee? What’s your favorite trail?