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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
The paved Tower of Terror road route climbs and descends the hills northeast of Sosebee Cycling Park in White, Georgia. There is a tower but the only thing frightening about this 66 mile road route is a bit of chipseal. Expect lots of elevation change, some technical descending and virtually no traffic. The area has many interesting features including rushing creeks, a spring which pours out of the mountain and some truly bizarre roads.
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.
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.
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.
Alabama's Little River Canyon has been called the Grand Canyon of the East. The waterfall alone is worth seeing but cyclists get to ride along the canyon rim. Two lengths are offered - 39 and 57 miles. Both are 100% paved.
Three County Line routes are based on two decades experience riding the Suburban Atlanta's Cobb and Paulding County roads and provide alternatives to driving an hour or more to the ride start or staring at a screen in the basement.
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.
Expansive ranches, well groomed gravel and WMA access roads make the 48 mile mixed-surface Blue Car Body Road route through rural Paulding County, Georgia seem far removed. Several gated roads and a short section of hike-a-bike give this route an adventurous feel. Even so, a fit rider could cycle to the start from Atlanta.