The Challenge

Distance: 42+ miles (one way!)
Time: your time may vary
Rating: strenuous, grueling
Elevation:1000' to 3200', plus lots of ups and downs (cumulative climb 5000'). See Google or time/distance/elevation profile
Maps: USGS Quadrangles: Fork Mtn,Block, Windrock, Petros, Lake City, Duncan Flats, Jacksboro
Access: Leave shuttle cars at Shoney's in Caryville, exit 134 off of I75. Park at Frozen Head State Park.

"Your mission, Jim, should you choose to accept it, is to ride off-road from Frozen Head to Caryville."

A few years ago, after riding all of the pieces of this challenge, I began mentioning to my "friends" what a tough ride it would be to ride from Frozen Head to Caryville (in one sitting!). Some of my middle-aged buddies did it in '94, and I finally did it in '96, so see if you can do it faster.

Description: Start at the campground in Frozen Head and climb up the jeep road. From Tubb Springs, take the trail down to Armes Gap and cross 116 and climb up to Big Fodderstack, bearing right along the south face. (This is lightly travelled and the briars make long sleeves/pants useful.) At 2.4 miles from Armes Gap at the east face of Big Fodderstack, descend to the right to the gap and continue east toward Little Fodderstack. At about 0.2 miles along the southwest face of Little Fodderstack (36.102203,-84.398035) scitter down (on your butt) a steep logging drag line to an old stripmine bench (2400'), continue east along the southern face of Little Fodderstack until you hit the gravel that runs between New River and Windrock. Continue east on the gravel for about 11 miles til you cross 116 at Graves Gap. Climb about one mile up the dirt road to the higher coal seam and continue east to the Briceville gravel road. Cross the Briceville gravel, continuing east for about 3.3 miles and bear left at the fork (UTM 749.3 4011.1) where you climb (good luck) to the left up to the ridge line to Cold Gap (2800'). (I am told that if you take the right fork, you pass an active mine and eventually join the dirt road that climbs up to White Gap.) Continue east (don't go down the mountain at White Gap, climb up under the power line) heading toward Beech Grove microwave tower. Heading north past the microwave tower you get a mile of a flat-topped mountain -- buzzed by mining operations. Follow the dirt road down the east face to the junction with the gravel from Caryville, descend to Shoney's.

Fodderstack can be a jungle (late May picture, 33K). You should only attempt this October-April. Some of this trek crosses private land. Access rights may change, obey posted signs.

You probably first should ride the various sections of the route ( Frozen Head, Windrock, Indian Bluff, Caryville ), since being lost for several days will affect your ranking in the following table.

Time        When         Who
6:56 hrs    5/12/97     Dan Adkins, Jim Webster, Scott Rhea
8 hrs.      5/31/96     Tom Dunigan, Al Geist  Google map/profile
9 hrs.      5/8/94      Cheryl & Curtis Travis, Mitch Wilder

Travis's describe a variation that goes via Ash Log, Cage Creek seam, Guinea Gap, and Coffin Spring (40 miles, 9.25 hours).

2009, Matt's road/gravel ride and Hiram's 2011 ride.

Return to East Tennessee mountain bike rides.
Revised 5/14/97 by Tom Dunigan

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