Follow along with outdoorsman and writer Johnny Molloy as he treks through the mountains of Northeast Tennessee.
With gorgeous mountain terrain coupled with abundant parks and an active biking community, Northeast Tennessee has become a “pedal-to” destination to take on mountain biking at its finest, no matter the level.
With miles of established rugged terrain, paved trails, and tracks and trails it’s easy to see why Northeast Tennessee is creating a name for itself when it comes to biking. You can experience dedicated biking trails at state and city parks, as well as the national forest. We’ve put together a list of our top five mountains to bike in Northeast Tennessee.
Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park
Have you ever dreamed about designing your own park? It might look a lot like Tannery Knobs, downtown Johnson City’s signature mountain bike park. This 40-acre preserve features the latest in trail design overlain on wooded hills with spectacular views of Johnson City and Buffalo Mountain. The trail system includes a skills area, pump track, as well as a fast and expertly designed one-way trail system that allows mountain bikers of all levels to thrive in their sport. The 3.5 miles of trails include both natural and man-made obstacles and trail beds.
Warriors Path State Park
Located in Kingsport, Warriors Path State Park presents 12 miles of dedicated trails with a separate trailhead. The Park features beginner, intermediate, and advanced trails, all created by mountain bikers for mountain bikers. The interconnected singletracks are set on a ridge above Patrick Henry Lake. A fine loop uses Darwins Revenge, leading from the ridgetop trailhead to the shores of Patrick Henry Lake then up again. Join Boneyard Trail, passing through cool rock gardens alternating with fast sections while winding along the lake. You’ll find out why Rock City Trail got its name after working through the lakeside rock gardens. Complete the 8-mile circuit on Whitetail and the Magic Carpet Ride.
Steele Creek Park
Located in the hills of Bristol, Steele Creek Park covers 2,200 acres of backwoods with 24 miles of multiuse trails. The trails include long loops atop ridges and through deep hollows and the farther from the main trailheads you go, the more solitude you will find. The Sinks Way Trail drops 600-feet in a half mile, making for an action-packed descent or a challenging climb. The Hemlock Hollow Trail is also steep but less technical, making for a fast slalom. The singletrack Lake Ridge Trail runs for two miles with some technical segments along fast sections. To get the most out of these trails, you’ll want to use a trail app and create your own rides – and there are plenty to ride.
Bays Mountain Park
Bays Mountain near Kingsport is one of the largest city parks in Tennessee. With 3,550 acres, this iconic outdoor destination offers mountain biking trails, animal habitats, a planetarium, hiking, and a lake. The trails are great for beginners, giving you an opportunity to take a less experienced buddy on the nearly 40 miles of pathways throughout the park. Note that some trail corridors are tight, and the paths are smooth, with primarily single-track trails. Along the way, you’ll have a chance to climb the historic fire tower at the top of the mountain. The views are spectacular, with the Holston River carving its way through the terrain, and Clinch Mountain as a backdrop looking into Virginia as part of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.
Winged Deer Park
Winged Deer Park adjacent to Boone Lake in Johnson City is another multi-use facility in which local mountain bikers tackle trails built by their peers. The paths make the most of the rolling terrain. Fly By Night is the most popular trail, with 2.3-miles of a twisted single-track and enough ups and downs to get your heart pumping. Roll your way through the whole trail, or take on some of the optional jumps and drops. Roll the Bones is an alternate technical, rocky route with a few fast sections. Tom Sawyer is an easy spur off the mail trail that is perfect for younger, and beginner mountain bikers.
Leave No Trace
Remember to leave our trails with no trace, so adventures can last a lifetime.
While You’re Here
Persimmon Ridge Park in Jonesborough offers 130 acres of hiking, running, and biking trails. Trails include a variety of switchbacks, views of the Appalachian Mountains into North Carolina, as well as a creek.The park is located only one mile from the heart of Downtown Jonesbrough.
The cross country paths of East Tennessee State University’s Woods Trail is a spider web of campus pathways on a hilly tract following the east slope of Holston Mountain. The trails are located near Stony Creek, a Cherokee National Forest property with a large pathway network and potential elevation changes of 2,000 feet.
Johnny Molloy is the author of many outdoor guides including Best Tent Camping: Tennessee, Paddling Tennessee, and Five Star Trails Tri-Cities: East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.