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
This is a lovely and "mild" gravel route compared to other available routes in the area. This is quite often my "easy Sunday morning" ride.
The scenery in and around Hiwassee Ocoee State Park is pretty and goes along several rivers, creeks and streams.
On the gravel sections, which is 80% of the route, car traffic is pretty low.
Overall, the gravel surfaces on this route are smooth and packed.
There is some pavement you have to take to get to the good gravel loop and sometimes there is car traffic (However, the views are still nice!)
You might encounter horses/equestrian riders on Starr Mountain and they're not always used to bikes. Yield to horses, call your pass and give them plenty of room.
Do this ride if you want the most beginner-friendly route in the Hiawassee area.
I parked at Historic Fort Morrow (Fort Marr), which is off of Spring Creek Road in the Hiwassee Ocoee State Park. There is plenty of free parking here and there are also bathrooms that are usually unlocked at this location.
You can ride this route easily on a gravel bike but a mountain bike would be okay too.
While the road conditions make this gravel route "mild", there is a little climb up Starr Mountain which is about 5 miles long and you do gain over 3,000 feet in about 35 miles.
The route starts just north of Benton, TN, which is about 8 miles from the start, and near the Hiwassee River, so there is lots of tubing and other outdoor activities all around.
If you are looking for food/drinks for before/after your ride, you'll want to go into the town of Benton. (Local tip: Do NOT speed at all when driving through Benton, TN!!)
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/