Pedaling a Piece of Kentucky and Tennessee
Canal Loop Trail
If you rate yourself or anyone in your group as a"recreational" rider, this route's for you. The rangers rate it as "easy to moderate," which is understandable given its non-technical dirt surface and only 120 feet of elevation change over its length of fourteen miles. Four connector trails intersect its length, which give ride-length options from 1.5 miles upward. If you're an experienced rider but it's early in the season for you, the full out-and-back twenty-eight miles will tax the calves nicely. But don't speed along this route on weekends. It can get crowded.
This is a beauty with a bit of everything and a lot of miles. The rangers at the North Welcome Station will warn you that "only" the northern portion of the North/South Trail is open to mountain bikes. It sounded ominous to me and I must have frowned, for the chipper-looking young lady quickly added not to worry, that the open portion was thirty-one miles long, point-to-point. And that it could be extended to forty-five total if I wanted, by connecting it to the Canal Loop. Well, I don't know about you, but that's plenty for me for a couple of hours . . . There are some easy sections on logging and gravel roads, but you'll find advanced-level stretches of single-track as well as you power up from squishy bottomlands to tree-choked ridge tops and hurtle down once again.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication