Foothills Parkway

Distance: 15.4 miles (one way)
Time: 2.5 hours (one way)
Rating: moderate
Elevation: Walland (1000'), 2420', Wear Cove (1430')
Surface: dirt/paved
Maps: USGS Quadrangles: Kinzel Spring, Wears Cove, and trail map
Access: This is a gated section of the Foothills Parkway (no motorized vehicles). The western entrance is off of US 321 in Walland, about four miles northwest of Townsend. (35.7184N, 83.8219W ) The eastern entrance is off of US 321 in Wear Cove. See trail map.

Description: This section of the Parkway was never completed and but is open to bicycles, hikers, and horses. The section will again be closed Dec 16, 2010 for construction. As of 2009, only the first 9.6 miles from Walland was open to the public as they work on completing the "gap". Most of the ride is on good pavement with a moderate gradient (8%). There is 1.8 miles of technical single track in the middle with steep pitches and one rocky push.

From the Walland gate (1000') the Parkway climbs steadily for 2.5 miles to about 1800' where it levels off. There are numerous views of Townsend (Tuckaleeche Cove), Rich Mountain, and Rocky Top to the south. At about mile 5, the Parkway descends to the Carr Creek bridge (1300') at mile 6.4. From the bridge, the Parkway climbs steadily around Grassy Mountain to mile 9.5 (2240') where the pavement ends. The singletrack rolls up to 2420' at mile 10.5. At mile 10.9, the trail descends steeply 150' down a rocky section. The pavement resumes at mile 11.3 (2200'). The road turns northeast offering views of Wear Cove and Cove Mountain as it descends to US 321 at mile 15.4 (1430'). The cumulative climb is about 2600'. (The cumulative climb from Wear Cove to Walland is about 1800').

It is probably best to set a shuttle vehicle or backtrack rather than ride the 14.3 miles of US 321. US 321 from Wear Cove to Townsend is narrow with little or no shoulder. The Carr Creek bridge can be accessed via Webb Road or Lover's Lane off of the old Walland Road ('bout 5 miles). The Carr Creek road is rural residential -- big dogs. Old Walland Road parallels US 321 on the other side of the Little River and is a pleasant ride/drive between Townsend and Walland. Townsend also has about 5 miles of paved bikeway south of and parallel to US 321. See maps for Townsend and Alcoa/Maryville greenways/bike trails.

The Parkway is open to motorized vehicles from Walland southeast to Chilhowee Lake. More parkway info. Rumor has it that there are bikable jeep roads around Top-of-the-World and in the Foothills WMA at the Chilhowee Lake Parkway entrance. Also visit the nearby Rich Mtn/Parson Branch rides.

More maps and waypoints for the Smokies

Return to East Tennessee mountain bike rides.
Revised 11/22/97 by Tom Dunigan