5 GREAT RIDES
King of the Mountain: Knoxville.
Thanks to the votes of mountain bikers from around the country, Knoxville won 2015’s $100,000 Bell-Built Grant which funded this regionally ground-breaking project. Built by IMBA Trail Solutions, Devil’s Racetrack opened in May of 2016 as part of the Baker Creek Preserve, Knoxville’s newest network of trails.
Don’t let the short distance fool you–this 0.6-mile gravity trail starts with a 40-foot-long by 10-foot-tall wall ride and never lets up. Choose your own adventure to the bottom: a succession of high-flying jumps or the world’s longest rock garden.
Photo: Pro trail builder Tyson Swasey “flow checking” one of the big doubles on Devil’s Racetrack | Photo: Leslie Kehmeier
Urban Wilderness | South Loop
“The Urban Wilderness is a trail network nestled right into south Knoxville,” shares Bell Joyride Ambassador and long-time local Missy Petty. “The mountain biking community there–my family–has grown into an amazing and energetic group of people, and it’s all about hard work, good fun, and, at the end of the day, a great place to ride and live.”
If you’ve never ridden in Knoxville, take Missy’s word for it and start here. This loop only scratches the surface–hitting just 12 of the over 30 miles of singletrack available–but there’s plenty of opportunity to ramp up the mileage. After you’ve sampled your fair share of blazing fast singletrack and rugged rock gardens, you’ll be happy to know that you’re never more than a few miles from downtown and its bounty of food and drink options.
Photo: Randy Conner
Big South Fork
For a solid backcountry experience, check out the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area just 90 minutes north of downtown Knoxville. There are an advertised 100 miles of bikeable trails and roads in the park but you’ll probably want to stick to one of the featured rides unless you’re looking for a gravel grind or some bikepacking seclusion.
The 33-mile IMBA Epic Ride combines two of the park’s three best rides: Grand Gap and Collier Ridge. If you only have one day to ride, this loop is well worth the effort. You’ll get the chance to revel over the park’s namesake river on the Grand Gap Loop and sample some of its fastest flowing singletrack on Collier Ridge Trail.
Photo: Stunning vistas on the Grand Gap Loop | Photo: Leslie Kehmeier
While it’s not the reason you’d come to Knoxville for mountain biking, Concord Park is a local’s favorite. It’s definitely worth checking out as a second ride of the day or a shorter option if time is a constraint. There are some built wooden features, a couple log rides and fun berms to rail along the way.
Photo: Wes Soward
Due to its unique topography, Sharp’s Ridge drains really well, making it a great option if it has rained recently. The eight miles of trail here are cut into the super steep side slope, which makes for some technically challenging climbs and descents. Link up Sharp Shin Trail’s narrow, challenging singletrack with a blast down Knight Fall’s jump line for a good taste of what Sharp’s has to offer.
GUEST AUTHOR LESLIE KEHMEIER
Leslie Kehmeier is a Colorado-based outdoor adventure photographer and mountain bike nerd. @LESLIEKEHMEIER