The Fried Green 28/42/50 routes explore the extensive network of gravel roads in and around the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge near Juliette, Ga. Located little more than an hour south of Atlanta, three lengths provide options for riders of all abilities. All feature pristine pine glades and hardwood forests, rolling and sometimes playful terrain, a few creek crossings and postcard perfect gravel.
The Heintooga Ridge route climbs from the banks of the Oconaluftee River near Cherokee NC to over a mile high. The route passes through two of the Blue Ridge Parkway's iconic tunnels before turning into the woods and entering Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A 17 mile descent on a one-way gravel road features shelf roads and long sections along rolling whitewater. This 47 mile mixed-surface route is unforgettable and worth the drive from anywhere in the South.
The Coopers Creek route is set in the heart of North Georgia's Blue Ridge Mountains. The 58 mile loop contains long stretches of gravel along pristine trout streams, impressive views of the mountains and a seven mile descent to the finish. The area is a mecca for road and gravel cycling. If you only do one gravel ride in North Georgia, the Coopers Creek route should be on your list.
The 100% paved Taylorsville route starts a few minutes west of Cartersville GA on the banks of the Etowah River. Flat by north Georgia standards, this 44 mile road route loops through farms and pastures and includes the classic Taylorsville Rd so loved by locals.
Paved start and finish sectors bookend almost 40 continuous miles of gravel fun near Reliance, Tennessee. This is classic Southern Appalachian gravel - steep, rough, and incredibly beautiful. The Little Frog Mountain route crosses a 450 foot long cable suspended bridge over the Hiwassee River and includes many ridge traversals and shelf roads, some of which are unmaintained. Mushroom hunters will want to bring a bag to carry out some booty.
The 53 mile mixed-surface Cades Cove route enters Great Smoky Mountains National Park via a seldom used gravel road over Rich Mountain. Cades Cove is one of the most visited locations in the entire national park system and simply too beautiful to ride fast. The 11 mile paved loop road and gravel roads within the cove are sometimes closed to motor vehicles to allow car free access to cyclists.
The 45 mile mixed-surface Talking Rock Gravel route is an absolute blast. Portions beg to be hammered and lots of climbing adds spice. The route starts one hour north of Atlanta and features impressive views of Rich and Burnt Mountains, meadows, orchards and genteel countryside. For those so inclined there's even mid-ride charcuterie and tasting available at a winery right on the route.
Congress authorized the Foothills Parkway as a scenic drive to provide magnificent views into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Located in East Tennessee, 31 miles of the roadway are open as of 2020. The Foothills Parkway route is 63 miles and 8100 feet of climbing if ridden end to end as an out-and-back. Climbers will love it but even if you don't have the legs for the whole route then at least do the newly constructed eastern section for its stunning views.
The 39 mile Murder Creek and 60 mile Double Murder gravel routes meander through pecan groves and past country churches on the rolling back roads of middle Georgia's Jasper County. The start is less than an hour from downtown Atlanta but it feels a world apart.
The 46 mile Cloudland route consists of three long horizontal paved sectors interrupted by two short vertical gravel sectors. The first gravel sector descends the west side of Lookout Mountain to the hamlet of Rising Fawn, GA and another ascends back to the crest. Stunning views, the gorge and waterfalls at Cloudland Canyon State Park and the ride along the escarpment make this an unforgettable route.
North Georgia's 46 mile Haywood Valley route ranks among the classics. These roads are well traveled by local riders and used for organized charity rides throughout the year. The 100% paved route travels through part of the Johns Mountain Wildlife Management Area, into "The Pocket" and along gorgeous Haywood Valley Rd from which the route gets its name. Expect mountain views, gently undulating terrain and little to no traffic.
The term "endless rolling hills" define the area around White Georgia and the Loves Bridge route is just an example of what's available. This 51 mile paved route starts at Sosebee Cycling Park. On a Saturday morning, if the weather is nice, you might find a dozen groups here, getting ready to clip in.
The 41 mile mixed-surface Tellico Gorge/Bald River route circles the Bald River Wilderness east of Tellico Plains, Tennessee. The route starts and finishes on the Cherohala Skyway. It includes River Rd through the Tellico River Gorge and 18 miles of gravel through pristine federally protected forest.
North Georgia's 46 mile mixed-surface Swinging Bridge routes crosses the Tocoa river twice, first an antique non-swinging steel bridge in the quaint town of Aska and again on the cable suspended bridge which really does swing. The route features broad valleys with mountain vistas, an uninterrupted 24 mile gravel sector and the blistering "High House" descent. This is one of the prettiest routes in the state.