Distance: 20+ miles
Rating: moderate to strenuous
Elevation: 1000' to 3200'
Surface: dirt/gravel
Maps: USGS Quadrangles: Block, Duncan Flats, Jacksboro
Access: Exit 134 ( Cove Lake State Park) from I75 and go west to Caryville. You can park here (A), or better, drive up through Caryville on Mountain Road and park on the ridge top (B, 4.5 miles) at 2838'. See trail head parking.

Click here for map, also see 3-D map (35K).

Description: The eastern part of this area is part of Royal Blue Wildlife Mgt. Area. In 2002, a $50/year access fee "may be" required for Royal Blue, or $10/day (see TWRA fees or contact the Region IV TWRA office). Other areas are private land, so access rights may change. Some of the western lands are owned by Coal Creek Mining and require an access fee, see the windrock page for more details. Obey posted signs and avoid active mining/logging areas. Most of the trails are gravel roads and ATV trails. Since the area has been strip-mined, you are offered good panoramas of the Cumberlands and the Tennessee Valley. If you start and stay on the mountain tops, you can have relatively level rides. We have GPS waypoints (.gpx), maps, and driving directions for some of the trail heads at trail-head parking.

I like to take beginners from B-C-E-F (see map ). And then if they are still strong, descend from F to G and then loop back to F. There are good views from Ash Log mountain, here is a picture (41K) looking west from Ash Log mountain.

More advanced riders can add B-C-D-E. C-D is a single track that climbs over Pine Bald (3069'), then follow a gravel road along a coal seam (D-E). You can make a 19.1 mile loop with the Mine #4 haul road loop (N-P-H-N). An easier loop (6.8 miles) from Grave Gap (E) takes the Mine #4 haul road (N) 3.3 miles to the Elk release spur (Horsebone Ridge) then climb a dirt track up to Massengagle and back to Grave Gap. As noted in the elevations on the map, some sections include significant climbs/descents.

The road is paved from Shea to (I) and on south to 116. The dirt road (Norma Road) going north from (I) passes through Smoky Junction and eventually joins TN 63.

The ride from B to M (4.2 miles) is interesting, as the last mile crosses the Flats, courtesy of strip mining ( picture, 47K). You're better off going down the gravel (toward Caryville) a half mile and taking the dirt/gravel road up to M (Beech Grove microwave), the jeep track leading south from B is muddy and confusing due to recent logging. The Flats is part of Coal Creek Mining land (access fee required, see Windrock page).

During hunting season (Oct-Dec), try not to look like a deer. Actually, TWRA requires 500 sq. inches of fluorescent orange be worn on upper torso Oct-Dec in Royal Blue WMA. Visit TWRA for current hunt schedules. Also visit the nearby Royal Blue trails, the eastern portion of the WMA.

Return to East Tennessee mountain bike rides.
© Revised 12/23/95 by Tom Dunigan