This route is brought to you by Ali Whittier, one of our 2022 Route Ambassadors and competitive gravel cyclist from Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Photo Credits: Ali Whittier
Once an abandoned narrow-gauge railway, the Guild-Hardy Trail is now a lovely five-mile woodsy gravel trail with occasional views of downtown Chattanooga and the Tennessee River. It is one of the only gravel trails near downtown Chattanooga so expect other riders.
It's closed off to cars (with the exception of the parts that go through Ruby Falls and Cravens House parking areas), so it's a quiet and relaxing ride.
This route is definitely beginner-friendly, and while it goes up Lookout Mountain, it's a very gentle grade all the way up.
There's plenty to explore off the main Guild-Hardy Trail if you get curious. (The trail includes a number of historic sites such as Craven’s House, Civil War monuments, and Point Park.)
Besides having to ride through Ruby Falls and Cravens House parking areas, there aren't any lows.
Do this ride if you want a great beginner gravel ride or go up/down if you're looking for climbing intervals on a trail that is safe from traffic.
The trail is located at the northern end of Lookout Mountain within the Chattanooga city limits. There's a small parking lot off of Ochs that's used by Guild-Hardy goers. It's free but it is small with limited space.
I've ridden this trail nearly 300 times and it's very popular with locals and tourist alike.
Because the route is a short distance and it's near a tourist area, you're not far from food/water. (There are several restaurants, a coffee shop and ice cream in the St. Elmo Historic Neighborhood which is at the bottom of Lookout Mountain where the Guild-Hardy starts.)
This trail is well maintained and can be ridden pretty much year-round and in any kind of weather. A gravel bike is perfect for this ride but a mountain bike would be fine too.
You can easily fit this into a sight-seeing day if you're from out of town, or use it as a place to do hill repeat workouts.
Ali was born and raised in Iowa before moving to the Southeast after college. Now a competitive cyclist in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Ali uses her weekends free from her corporate job to explore surrounding National Forests and Wilderness Areas by bike to train with other Chattanooga female cyclists for upcoming endurance adventures across the U.S.
In 2020, Ali completed the infamous Trans North Georgia Adventure, a bike packing race across the state of Georgia, with two of her closest female friends, which is unheard for a mostly solo event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMFdO-1z8No:
You can also hear more about Ali's journey, and how she transformed from a dancer and team sport athlete to runner and endurance cyclist on the Day Fire Podcast.
For more info, check out her website: https://withthewhittiers.com/