The 56 mile Centralhatchee Mixed Surface route meanders through the pastoral landscape of West Georgia's Heard and Carroll Counties. Farming is the area's biggest industry and the route passes dozens of working farms, each one prettier than the last. It feels like riding through a postcard at times, especially for city or suburban folk. The sparsely populated area has very light traffic and some of the highest quality gravel you will ever ride.
ESOM HILL ADVENTURE
The Esom Hill Adventure route pushes the boundaries of what's possible on a gravel bike. There's almost 18 miles of genteel country pavement but much of the remaining 29 miles consists of jeep roads, frog puddles and a few sections of straight up bedrock. Throw in a crossing of Terrapin Creek and a little bit of hike-a-bike and you have yourself a bonafide adventure ride! This 47 mile mixed-surface route starts just a stone's throw from Alabama at the Silver Comet Trailhead in Esom Hill, Georgia.
LAKE CHEAHA GRAVEL
The Lake Cheaha Gravel routes are located just south south of Cheaha State Park in Alabama. 36 and 43 mile options utilize 4x4 roads to traverse the spine of Talladega Mountain southward and long stretches of impeccably groomed gravel return north to the lake. The opening and closing miles of the route are paved and feature perfect rollers and impressive views of the mountains. Rugged jeep roads and lots of elevation make the longer version more difficult than numbers suggest. The shorter option avoids the more intense sections for those who prefer to get back to the lake early.
The 43 mile Rock Creek route starts in the craft brewery and arts focused town of Blue Ridge and travels to the edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Along the way you will climb among million dollar mountaintop homes, meander along rushing creeks and enjoy postcard views of the North Georgia mountains. This mixed surface route is a visual delight with lots of variety and surprises around just about every corner.
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.
Water defines the 66 mile mixed surface Rainbow Springs route in Western North Carolina. The route is an out & back along the banks of the Nantahala River and a significant portion of the route features crashing whitewater within river's gorge. A spin along the lake and views of 5000 foot peaks will have you reaching for your camera. A fast finish will have you grinning like a little kid.
THE ALABAMA SKYWAY
The 100 mile Alabama Skyway route starts along the Chief Ladiga rail trail in the city of Piedmont, Alabama. 41% of the route is on gravel roads through the Talladega National Forest and along the edge of the federally protected Duggar Mountain Wilderness. Much of the route follows the Skyway Motorway which runs the crest of the Talladega Mountains and includes a paved climb to the highest point in Alabama at Cheaha Mountain State Park. The route is well suited to a two day bikepacking trip if 11,000 feet of climbing is too much for one day.
THE LITTLE CRUSHER
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 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.
TALKING ROCK GRAVEL
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.
MURDER CREEK/DOUBLE MURDER
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 38 mile Grassy Mountain gravel route takes in all the North Georgia Cohutta Mountains have to offer. Expect a massive climb, a blistering descent, breathtaking vistas, and a fast finish.
The 197 mile Appalachia Bikepacking route provides a four to five day immersion into the rugged landscape and unique culture at the intersection of north Georgia, southeast Tennessee and extreme western North Carolina.
Set a few minutes west of Dahlonega, Georgia on some of the same roads used for the Southern Cross gravel race, the 47 mile Nimblewill Gap gravel route includes an unmaintained US Forest Service road over the gap from which the route takes its name. A mountain bike wouldn't be out of place on this route.
The 43 mile Conasauga Crusher gravel route reflects the rugged and remote nature of the Cohutta Mountains on the GA/TN border. Expect rough gravel, plentiful water and no cell service. A bear sighting is not out of the question.