COHUTTA MOUNTAINS, POLK COUNTY, TENNESSEE
The 43 mile Conasauga Crusher gravel route reflects the rugged and remote nature of the Cohutta Mountains in which it is set. Expect rough gravel, plentiful water and no cell service. A bear sighting is not out of the question.
In its heyday, the logging town of Alaculsey had 120 buildings and its own post office. It is now little more than a dot on the map and standing at the confluence of the Jacks and Conasauga Rivers one would never know that a town had ever existed. Alaculsey is a popular trailhead and the starting point for this loop route which can be ridden in either direction. Clockwise seems to be the preference.
Expect lots of up and down including a 3 mile climb up Big Frog Road where the surface can be rough at the top. Pay attention to your GPS if climb it clockwise as the right hand turn at mile 32.3 is easy to miss. Its also easy to miss the turn at mile 24.8 if you are bombing the descent.
Ridden at a casual pace, the route offers long sections along rushing mountains streams, waterfalls, gorgeous campsites and abundant wildlife. Ridden with a fast group, this route favors wide tires, cornering skills and a love for climbing. Either way, expect to be tired.
- Bear encounters are a real possibility in this area, especially at higher elevations along Big Frog Rd. Please familiarize yourself with what to do should you happen to see one.
- Boars are less common but have also been sighted in this area, especially closer to the north end of the route. Again, familiarize yourself with what to do.
- The route typically take longer than indicated by the maps. Consider extra bottles, a hydration pack or bringing a filter.
- Cell service will not be ailable for a significant portion of this route.
- Alaculsey is accessible by passenger car but keep in mind that pretty sports sedans will get dirty on the long gravel approach roads.
- Day use, overnight camping and vault toilets are available at Cottonwood Patch Campground located one mile from the start.
- The Jacks River Trail is very popular with hikers and parking might be scarce during peak season. Be prepared to park off the road nearby.
- Alternate start locations include the King’s Slough boat ramp at the north end of the route and the along Sina Branch Rd in Willis Springs at the southwest corner of the route.