Big Texas Valley isn’t in Texas but a few minutes north of the city of Rome in northwest Georgia. Its the ideal start location for this 47 mile paved road route where you’ll encounter easy pedaling on quiet country roads punctuated by two significant climbs. The area has a thriving cycling scene and draws cyclists from Chattanooga, Atlanta and points beyond.
Roads on the Big Texas Valley route are staples of the local cycling scene and with good reason. Smooth pavement, fantastic scenery and abundant route options are all located a few minutes from the city center. You are likely to meet many riders from Rome when cycling this route. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
The route starts at the Rocky Mountain Recreation Area located about ten miles northwest of downtown. Boat ramps, campsites, hiking trails and a beach are only part of what the recreation area has to offer. Mountains frame the lakes and you may want to return with a kayak or fishing pole. The recreation area is also home to the Rocky Mountain Hydroelectric Plant. An open air visitor center displays information about the facility and a 27 ton stainless steel pump impeller is on display. A 38 mile ultra-marathon was being held on the day the route was scouted. It’s not only pretty but genuinely interesting and worth visiting in-and-of itself.
The majority of the route is flat to gently rolling with frequent views of the mountains as you pedal through Big Texas Valley and further north into Haywood Valley. The Haywood Valley route is a classic and one of the first routes ever published on SoutheastCyclingRoutes.com.
Big Texas Valley Rd is wide and sunny. Wind blowing down the long valley can sometimes be a factor depending on which direction you are traveling. Little Texas Valley Rd narrows to a single lane as it snakes its way over creeks, through hardwood forest and past occasional pastures. In addition to the little and big versions, there’s also plain old Texas Valley Rd. Local folklore is that a wagon train bound for Texas encountered some kind of sickness and the travelers decided to make the valley their home, hence the name.
Relatively easy pedaling in the valleys will be interrupted by two significant climbs – Fouche Gap atop Lavender Mountain (mile 10) and Little Sand Mountain (mile 34).
Fouche Gap Rd ascends for 1.7 miles at an average grade of about 6%. The switchbacked roadway and mountain setting are like scenes from a European grand tour. Lavendar Trail climbs to an expansive overlook from the high point on Fouche Gap Rd. The road is a dead end and very steep. It isn’t part of the route as published but look for it on your left at mile 11.3 if you want to check it out.
Little Sand Mountain has been climbed by roadies since the day it was paved, which is to say, for as long as anyone can remember. The mountain looms large as you approach and the climb gets steeper as it goes up, maxing out just shy of 12% near the top. The route runs along the top of Little Sand Mountain for a bit, passing country churches and farmsteads forgotten in time. The ridge traversal is an absolute blast when ridden at speed with a spirited group! Mind the final switchback on the descent – it comes up fast and there may be a some sand or gravel in the roadway after a heavy rain.
Expect a little bit of traffic getting to the store stop via Highway 156. The store can be skipped in favor of the water spigot at the Ebeneezer Baptist Church near mile 34. The Church is just prior to the Little Sand Mountain Climb. The spigot is hidden between the two sets of stairs at the center of the “L” shaped building. Check the Parking & Logistics tab below for additional details.
The Big Texas Valley route can be extended further north for additional miles and there’s a fair bit of gravel at Martha Berry College and adjacent Martha Berry WMA. Heatmaps accurately reflect where people are riding so its easy to get creative and come up with your own variation.
Community input on current conditions is invaluable so consider leaving a comment below if you ride the Big Texas Valley route. Also be sure to check the tabs below for important logistics information.
- Fouche is pronounced foo-shay.
- There is a $5 fee for day use parking at the Rocky Mountain Recreation Area. The payment kiosk accepts cash only and does not give change so be sure to bring an old fashioned five dollar bill.
- Most cyclists park at the visitor center where there's clean restrooms and parking for 30 or more cars.
- Additional parking, group picnic areas, overnight camping and the beach can be found at various recreation area entrances along Big Texas Valley Rd.
- The water spigot at Ebeneezer Baptist Church has been reliable for many years. It is a well known and popular refill location. Look for the Church to your right at mile 33.6. It will be at a 90° left-hand bend in the road. If you cross the bridge over Armuchee Creek then you have gone too far. The spigot is between the two sets of stairs.
Lindsey Kenney of Rome, Ga has extensive knowledge of the local cycling landscape and provided several key details about the route including the climb to the overlook on Lavendar Trail and how to pronounce Fouche. Lindsey has mapped great routes and hosted amazing rides in this area and her contribution to the Big Texas Valley route is greatly appreciated.