Pedaling a Piece of Kentucky and Tennessee

Road Biking — The Thrace and Beyond

Fortunately, instead of bobbing along on a horse or gunboat you will be pedaling the fifty-four miles of smooth pavement and rolling roads to Fort Donelson, forty-four of them along what is called "The Trace." This is the main north-south route, the scenic, unshouldered (but sufficiently wide), nicely rolling road that cuts down the middle of Land between the Lakes. Eighteen-wheelers aren't allowed on this stretch, and you'll see very few commercial vehicles of any kind. And while traffic can be bothersome on summer and (especially) holiday weekends, it's very light during the week.

Traffic off the Trace any day at all is very sparse, making weekends the perfect time for pedaling the hundred or so miles of other paved roads. For that matter, it is possible to cover almost thirty of the forty-four or so miles that lie between the North and South Welcome Stations by riding these off-Trace roads. Or you can park at Grand Rivers, stretch your legs after the drive with a good hard ride along the Trace to Fort Donelson, study the battlefield and the various entrenchments (which will wind you through the small town of Dover, site of a second Civil War battle when the Confederates returned in 1863), camp or grab a motel near town and then wind your way back north on the off-Trace roads.

But whether you start or end your ride in Grand Rivers (the tiny Kentucky town of nice people, great accents, and a yellow dog that wouldn't allow me into the post office without paying a toll of several minutes of determined petting), DO NOT MISS the On the Lite Side Bakery and Cafe. I wandered in on my first morning and almost didn't leave.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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