Bikeways of the Scenic South highlights road cycling routes in the Chattanooga region of Southeast Tennessee
Cyclists in Southeast Tennessee now have a new and growing network of bike routes to explore: Bikeways of the Scenic South. This network of carefully crafted road cycling routes is available at ScenicBikeways.com, and the routes include downloadable maps, turn-by-turn cue sheets, notable points of interest, conveniences, and descriptive narratives of what to expect along the routes.
Bikeways of the Scenic South is a project of the Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association, part of the Southeast Tennessee Development District in Chattanooga, Tenn. The tourism association partnered with local cycling advocates and county officials to determine the best routes through the small towns and scenic landscape of Southeast Tennessee.
“The narratives don’t just describe the roads, scenery and landmarks, but also talk about where to stop for a drink and a snack and where to eat after the ride,” says Shannon Burke of Velo View Bike Tours, who developed the routes and ScenicBikeways.com website.
Routes currently cover the geographic areas of the Sequatchie Valley (Marion, Sequatchie and Bledsoe counties) and Three Rivers Way (Bradley, Polk, McMinn and Monroe counties), a region that includes the Ocoee, Hiwassee and Tellico Rivers, as well as the Cherokee National Forest and Cherohala Skyway.
The goal of the project is to eventually map bike routes throughout the entire region, including northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama.
“While our region has some of the most scenic cycling roads anywhere in the country, finding those low-traffic backroads has not always been easy,” says Jim Johnson, founder of BikeTours.com and an early proponent of the regional scenic bikeways concept. “Bikeways of the Scenic South will help both visitors and residents discover these beautiful backroads. Additionally, bicycle tourism is sustainable: It doesn’t cause the damage that many kinds of mass tourism bring.”
Cycling is big business, and county leaders were drawn to the potential economic benefit that cycling can bring to the region. Studies show that regions that invest in cycling infrastructure yield positive economic impacts. “There are so many examples across the country of cycling programs that have created positive economic and health impacts for communities in rural areas, so we are excited to partner with our counties and regional cycling advocates to develop and promote this new initiative,” said Southeast Tennessee Tourism Coordinator Jenni Veal.
“We look forward to hosting cyclists in the Sequatchie Valley to enjoy this historic and scenic landscape and our local restaurants, hotels and businesses,” said Marion County Mayor David Jackson. “Cycling is just one of the many ways that visitors and residents can explore and enjoy the outdoors in Southeast Tennessee.”
On Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 visitors can explore the Sequatchie Valley by bike as part of the Cycle Sequatchie Outdoor Expo, which will feature four scenic routes (16, 37, 63 and 78-mile options) followed by a farm-to-table feast and outdoor expo in Dunlap, Tenn. The event will celebrate cycling in the Sequatchie Valley and proceeds will benefit conservation efforts in the Sequatchie Valley and South Cumberland Plateau by the Land Trust for Tennessee.