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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The summer job wrapped up, got a few weeks off before b-school gets cranking again... it was high time I swung a leg over the bike again. Hadn't been riding much this year, but I've been doing my best to make up for it by drinking heavier and smoking more cigarettes.

The plan was to meet some Virginia buddies at Douthat over the weekend, and I decided to brake up the drive from Atlanta with a visit to see the folks in Knoxville. The scenic route from Atlanta to Knoxville passes some nice dirt. I've ridden Chilhowee a few times, but never Tanasi... so Tanasi it was.

Pulled up to the Ocoee Whitewater Center pretty late on Wed, so it'd have to be a quickie. Only a short grunt at the start before swoopy singletrack ensues. A real grinner.









The sun was getting lower (okay, I was also getting a bit tuckered), so I headed back to the car after 10 miles or so. I couldn't help but think of that movie Cocoon when I saw the scene back at the river.



For those who care to know, the Tanasi trail system lies in the Cherokee National Forest in the far southeastern corner of Tennessee. Probably 25-35 miles of singletrack between Tanasi and nearby Chilhowee, maybe more?

Back in my former stomping ground of Knox-Vegas, I prepped for the Virginia riding weekend by aggressively getting after the Magaritas and Marlboro Lights with some of the homeboys on Thursday night. Ouch. Virginia pics coming directly...
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Saturday - Douthat in Virginia

Met up with Chad, Scott, John, and Matt (new addition) for a reunion of sorts in Douthat State Park, 'bout an hour northwest of Roanoke, VA. Current riding skills and fitness level ranged from fairly bad (me) to fairly good (basically everyone else).

None of us had the energy to cook when we got there Friday night, so we hit the pizza joint/harley bar down the road and did our best not to piss-off any bikers (the other bikers, not mtn bikers).

We decided to ride the Beards Mountain side on Saturday, which has the "harder but shorter" climb. Chad got after it big time for the first couple miles or so (which are tough), and most of us couldn't keep up. The effort caught up to him though, and we turned a corner to see him "rejecting" his nutrients by the side of the trail. He thinks it was either the last PBR on Friday or the 4th banana he ate that morning that got the best of him.



The beards mountain side of the park goes like this: steep climb, followed by up-and-down cruising on the spine of the mountain (occasionally getting views of surrounding mtns, including middle mountain to be ridden Sunday), followed by sweet descent. About 13 miles all told.

Chad going up:



John got a flat, giving me a chance to catch a breather...



...and giving a couple of the fellas a chance to say "we're getting bored waiting."



Matt, then John cruising by (apologies for the blur, I'm new at this camera thing)





A glimpse at tomorrow's climb.



couple more views before the descent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Sunday - Douthat's Middle Mountain

We ran into a local rider on the trail Saturday who gave us the scoop on a different way to ride Middle Mountain. His way, you actually leave the park boundary and enter the George Washington National Forest, giving you more miles on the tasty ridge trail of middle mountain. Sounded good to us.

We also add a little extra climbing on this ride by going up Beards Hollow and down Locust Gap before starting the 5 mile climb on Stony Run Trail. The grade is gentler on Stony Run, and we took a detour to the little cabin before reaching the top (photo credit to Chad):



Views from the cabin. Beards mtn, yesterday's ride, in the foreground.





Scott up on the ridge trail, which is quite a grinner.



Chad then Matt





One of those trails that tilts downward ever so slightly for 3-4 miles (with a few ups), and you get that weightless feeling. It's also purty...and about 3 inches wide at times.





In the last mile or so, it drops quickly down to a dirt road with a bunch of switchbacks. Screwing them up looked painful. I walked 'em.



This ride is a bit longer, 16 miles including a couple on the road back to the park.

I said my goodbyes to the fellers and pointed the car southward. Stopped near Asheville Sunday night, so I could pull off a quick ride in Pisgah on Monday. A few pics on the way...

Oh, check out the trail reviews for Douthat, it'll tell you all you need to know.
 

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Great pix. Thanks!
Tanasi is a GREAT place to ride. Lots of fabulous sidehill singletrack. Thunderock Express has to be one of the best downhills anywhere!
See https://www.chattbike.com/images/maps/tanasi.jpg.
Once trashed, simply go down to the shaded campground and have a protein drink (like a Fat Tire Ale). For a really refreshing end to a great ride, jump in the river just like the last pix.

Can't wait to go back.

**I'd rather die while I'm living than live while I'm dead - JB**
 

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Middle mountain

Nice pics. I would love to get the scoop on doing Middle Mountain like you described. Can you shed some more light on that route? I'm headed there in October.

Thanks,

Tim
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Monday - quickie in Pisgah

My legs were kinda sore from the weekend rides, and the gentle climb on the doubletrack of Fletcher Creek Road was the perfect way to loosen 'em up.



After 5 miles or so, I banged a left onto Spencer Brach trail to head slightly downhill under some nice canopy.



Judging by the moderately damp condition of Spencer Branch, I knew Middle Fork trail would be a disaster area. So I crossed Fletcher Creek for an out-an-back on Fletcher Creek Trail.

Fletcher Creek trail is also mostly in the woods...



...but the trail will sometimes pop out into sunny fields.







My batteries died before I reached the south side of Fletcher Creek trail, which is also great. A bit more rocky to jazz things up.

That's all for the southern sampler... hope to get a few shots of my 4-5 day trip to Colorado next week!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Sure

Up Beards Hollow, left on Locust Gap (downhill), right on Stony Run (4 or 5 mile climb), right on Tuscarora Overlook trail which goes to the cabin. As you'll easily see on your trail map, there are a couple of ways to get to middle mountain trail from the cabin, take your pick. Once up on middle mountain trail, just stay on it. The last trail to the right to stay in Douthat is called Salt Stump Trail, DO NOT take it - just stay straight on middle mountain. It gets a little rockier for a couple miles. You'll then descend quickly for about a mile (bunch of switchbacks) and the trail dumps out onto a dirt road. Take a right on the dirt road. Take another right onto a road at the first opportunity, and that road (629) takes you back into the north side of Douthat. Follow to campground.
 

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Thanks

chickenlegs said:
Up Beards Hollow, left on Locust Gap (downhill), right on Stony Run (4 or 5 mile climb), right on Tuscarora Overlook trail which goes to the cabin. As you'll easily see on your trail map, there are a couple of ways to get to middle mountain trail from the cabin, take your pick. Once up on middle mountain trail, just stay on it. The last trail to the right to stay in Douthat is called Salt Stump Trail, DO NOT take it - just stay straight on middle mountain. It gets a little rockier for a couple miles. You'll then descend quickly for about a mile (bunch of switchbacks) and the trail dumps out onto a dirt road. Take a right on the dirt road. Take another right onto a road at the first opportunity, and that road (629) takes you back into the north side of Douthat. Follow to campground.
I know exactly where Salt Stump and Middle split. I took Salt stump. I'll try this one for sure.
 
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