There was a time in Chattanooga’s mountain bike history when trails were scarce and it was necessary to take a road trip for a serious, singletrack experience. Without a doubt, Chilhowee Mountain was the place to go. Many riders, including myself, spent their formative years pedaling this mountain’s trails in the Ocoee area. Chilhowee has everything. There are tough climbs, water crossings, flowy sections, technical sections, waterfalls, camping, and the choice of parking at the top or bottom of the mountain. The scenery at Chilhowee is also amazing. Mountain laurel and rhododendron line the trails and whenever you drop in elevation you feel as if you have been transported to a rain forest.
Over the years, the stewardship of these trails has been challenging. Many years ago, SORBA lost their rights to maintain these trails, but a new agreement has been penned and SORBA has once again been granted the ability to work on this trail system! Chilhowee Mountain has a great collection of trails and some serious mileage. This gives us a terrific opportunity to get our work boots, as well as our cycling shoes, out on these trails. In recent rides on the mountain, there is a noticeable need for some trail work. We are very excited to be working with the Forest Service to breathe some new life into the trails. This agreement has also opened opportunities for trail work in the nearby Tanasi system, which is another great cycling destination in the Ocoee area with lots of mileage.
None of these agreements get done without people dedicating a lot of time and commitment. We would like to send out a special thank you to Kim Murrell, a SORBA member and local rider of the Ocoee area trails. Kim has been essential in re-establishing a relationship with the Forest Service and laying the groundwork for this maintenance plan. We would also like to thank SORBA Regional Director Terry Palmeri and Scott’s Bike Shop owner Doug Coulter for playing important roles in keeping this dialogue productive. We certainly want to thank all the Forest Service employees that helped make this happen and were willing to work with us. Lastly, we would like to thank all the SORBA members, past and present, who have worked on these trails and helped create such an incredible mountain bike destination.
Look forward to news about future trail work days. A new Facebook community page titled R.O.O.T.S. (Riders of the Ocoee Trail Systems) should be up and running soon to help area riders communicate about riding adventures, work days, and events. We will keep you posted and hope to see you out on the trail!