When mudhunny and I left Colorado just over three years ago we knew our opportunities for riding incredible mountain bike trails were limited. Since that time we’ve ridden some good trails but none of the east coast rides really stood out – until now. Raccoon Mountain in Chattanooga, TN has that special mix of fast trails, technical challenges, and amazing scenery that easily rivals our favorite rides in Colorado.
The Raccoon Mountain trail network is a part of SORBA Chattanooga’s ambitious goal of 100 miles of singletrack within 10 miles of downtown by 2010 and it’s still a bit of a work in progress. The fast, swoopy 12-mile loop around the Raccoon Mountain Storage Reservoir is complete but several spur loops can be found in various stages of completion. Signage is also a work in progress so be sure to print this map or pick up a map at the visitor’s center (though the map I picked up didn’t even show the trail making the full loop around the reservoir).
The fun thing about this trail is that while it is fast, it also has short sections of fun technical stuff to keep you on your toes. The trail elevation varies from about 1,500 to 1,800 feet which means you get incredible views of the surrounding mountains and Nickajack Lake below.
Raccoon Mountain is certainly worth the drive from Atlanta and with more trail coming on line soon, Chattanooga will soon be an overnight mountain bike destination in its own right. Watch out Tsali – the Southeast is about to get a new mountain bike mecca!