Checked another super fun IMBA epic ride off the list. Quick Fun Fact: Tanasi was the name of an Overhill Cherokee Village and is the source of the state name Tennessee. The Tanasi Trails are located in Ocoee, Tennessee- just over 2 hours from Atlanta, and well worth the trip for some fantastic riding. The 1996 Olympics in Atlanta held the whitewater events on this river – the only Olympic Games ever to utilize a natural river. The infrastructure built around the Olympic Games is fantastic. There’s a great Whitewater Visitors Center, ample parking (costs $3 to park at the Whitewater Center or you can park for free at the Brush Creek trailhead), restrooms, and all that jazz. But I came to ride my bike. So how was the riding, mang?
Perty dang sweet. I still feel FATS is the best singlespeed/ rigid trail network I’ve been on since arriving in “the south”. Tanasi is pretty fantastic though. You can pick up a big map for free at the Whitewater Visitors Center, and then start jammin. I rode everything, and a few things twice, and learned a bunch. If I went back to do it again, this is how I’d do it:
- Get a map at the Whitewater Center, pay the $3 and park your car. Then hop on your bike and ride the 64 Scenic Byway Road down to the Brush Creek trailhead. The road climb will warm you up and then after a quick descent you’ll be on singletrack.
- Brush Creek surprised me. Much better than I expected after reading it was the “beginner” riding of the area. Stellar singletrack with beautiful views of Ocoee Number 3 Lake. Nothing too techy, not much climbing – but it’s definitely fun and worth riding. It’s about 7 miles.
- Connect with Boyd Gap which is a short, but grin inducing descent down to Old Copper Road.
- Old Copper Road is 2.4 miles of doubletrack and a subtle climb up to the Whitewater Center. Nothing amazing here, but you are right next to the Ocoee River and it’s very historical. This route was built by Cherokee laborers in 1851 to haul copper. Definitely worth riding.
- Cross the Centennial Bridge and start climbing Bear Paw. I like riding Bear Paw counter-clockwise. This gets you to Chestnut Mountain Loop, which is basically a fireroad. Nothing special. Just a way to access the fun singletrack.
- Ride Chestnut to River View Loop – do this clockwise. This a great fun, and make sure to hit the River View Spur as well. I never really saw a “river view” but the singletrack was sensational.
- You then hop back on Chestnut for a bit until you reach Quartz Loop. I rode this clockwise as the map suggested. Super fun. Fast and flowy. You might wanna do it a couple times.
- Then you get back on Chestnut and continue to Thunder Rock Express. This is the “gem” of the system according to everything I read. I must agree, it was a blast – all downhill, bermed corners, whoops, and lots of speed – but it’s too short (only 1.5 miles)!!
- At the bottom of Thunder Rock, you merge with Rhododendron, which is a relaxing graded path that takes you back to the Whitewater Center and your car.
All in all, it’s around 25 miles and 2-3 hours of riding. Get some.