Raccoon Mountain review

I was really lucky recently (March 1st) to have been able to take my bike along with me on a business trip to Knoxville….you know, “just in case” I happened to want to ride.  On the return leg to Birmingham (following an overnight stay) I was able to get up early and head to Raccoon Mountain near downtown Chattanooga.  After hearing about this trail system for several years now, I was excited to try it out.

I still needed to get back to the office in Birmingham by 2pm that day, so my time on the bike was going to be limited to just over an hour.  I also managed to somehow snap off my rear tire’s valve stem core while pumping up my tires, which left me with a slow leak and no way to add any air.  So, all told I probably only rode around 10 total miles.  Since it was an out-and-back trip for me, this means I only saw around 5 miles of the trail system.

But, what I saw has got me hankering to get back up there ASAP.

The Raccoon Mountain Trail System essentially circles the Raccoon Mountain Reservoir, which itself sits high up on one of the mountain ridges near downtown.  I parked at the East Overlook, which came at the recommendation of a local bike shop employee when I pulled in to ask for directions.  There are some great views of downtown Chattanooga and the river from the East Overlook, which you will see in the photos below.

Hitting the trail, I started going counter-clockwise on some really nice smooth singletrack.  Though there was some climbing, it was still very fast.  Due to the tight twists, I often found myself having to dial back the speed to maintain control over the loose leaves on the trail.  After passing a clearing for some power lines, I worked my way through a miniature boulder garden in the woods.  Unlike the boulders at Oak Mtn, these were smooth and rounded, which made them very easy (and mildly fun) to ride up and over.  Some of the boulders approached car size.  Then it was more killer singletrack that somehow lead me right back to the East Overlook.  I had not intended to loop back around, but being unfamiliar with the trail system it somehow just happened.

This time I went clockwise from the East Overlook trailhead, which began once again on some very nice fast singletrack.  But for the next few miles I would experience all sorts of trail conditions ranging from rock gardens, to fast swoopy hills (think Jekyll at Oak Mtn), flat sandy stretches, and of course tight, twisty, and fast singletrack.  This was some good riding for sure.

After reluctantly forcing myself to turn around, I called it a day.  This place just begs to be visited again when I have more time to spend riding.  And due to the great network of trails, it would be an ideal spot for the boys from 41 Flyers Racing to spend a Saturday road trip…..basically just ride for hours without getting bored.  In speaking to some other folks who have ridden Raccoon Mountain, I supposedly did not even get to the best parts of the trail system.  I’ll be back for sure.


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