COHUTTA MOUNTAINS, POLK COUNTY, TENNESSEE
The 33 mile Little Crusher gravel route is the lite version of the full Conasauga Crusher. Set 35 miles east of Chattanooga TN in the Cohutta Mountains, the route is as rugged and remote as it is beautiful but with 10 fewer miles and 1300 feet less climbing than the full Crusher version.
The 33 mile Little Crusher gravel route is the low calorie version of the full 43 mile Conasauga Crusher. It allows regular folk with homes and families to experience this rugged and beautiful area without needing to spend all day in the woods. Started early and depending on where you live, you could be home in time to cut the grass or light the grill.
The route is 10 miles shorter and has 1300 ft less climbing than the full Crusher but the Cohutta Mountains are rugged and both climb the gnar on Big Frog Rd. Both the Little Crusher and Conasauga Crusher routes have less than one mile of pavement.
You can read about the full Conasauga Crusher route here. What follows highlights the differences between the two routes.
The Little Crusher avoids the the big rollers along the south shore of Lake Ocoee by turning right onto Baker Creek Rd at the five way intersection. Baker Creek Rd cuts across the forest to the southeast and joins Peavine Sneed Creek Rd near the base of the Big Frog Climb.
Baker Creek Rd is flatter than the rollers along the lake and much of it can be ridden fast if you want to. Along the way you will pass a few homesteads and hunting cabins nestled into the bottomland before climbing a ridge at the end of the road. As you descend toward Peavine Sneed Creek Rd (FS 55), keep an eye out for rare views of the Big Frog Mountain summit through the breaks in the trees.
The rest of the route is identical to the Conasauga Crusher but the map for the Little Crusher shows it started in Willow Springs were there’s space along the road for parking. Starting in Willow Springs allows a fully paved approach to the ride start so that cars won’t get terribly dirty. The start location is popular with equestrians as well as cyclists and it is always a treat to see these beautiful creatures and meet their owners. They don’t even wear padded shorts!
As with the full Crusher route, pay attention to your GPS because it is easy to miss a turn and go way off course.
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- 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.
- Cell service will not be available for a significant portion of this route.
- Look for the waterfall to the left at mile 27.3. It is easy to miss as you blow by on the false flat.
- The start location in Willis Springs is accessible via paved roads from Highway 411.
- Willis Springs is popular start point for equestrians who need to maneuver large horse trailers. Try to park out of the way to the extent that it is possible.
- There are zero services on this route - nada, zip, zilch. Bring a water filter, extra bottles or a hydration pack in the heat of summer.
- The nearest towns with full services will be Chatsworth, GA located 17 miles to the south or Cleveland, TN located 15 miles to the northwest.