Big South Fork/All 5 Ride
Photo: Big South Fork, image by Leslie Kehmeier.
The All 5 Ride IMBA Epic is made up of five trails the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (NRRA) in Tennessee: Collier Ridge, West Bandy, Duncan Hollow, Grand Gap and a section of the John Muir Trail. Deep forests, rocky faces and views into river gorges compliment the fun, moderate trails on this ride. The park is a prime example of the strong alliance that has been forged between the National Park Service and IMBA.
35 miles—30 miles on singletrack, 5 miles on connecting gravel roads
Estimated Ride Time:
Descriptions of the Individual Trails:
Big South Fork NRRA near Knoxville, TN. The park is a 125,000 acre unit of the National Park Service located on the Tennessee-Kentucky border between Oneida and Jamestown, TN.
The singletrack is flowy and smooth with minimal climbing. The trails are mostly beginner to intermediate level offering a few technical sections and creek crossings.
The park is open and the trails are (usually) accessible year-round. Summers are generally hot and humid, with high temperatures sometimes eclipsing 90 degrees. The low temperatures in winter often dip below freezing. Spring sees the most amount of precipitation, but rainfall can occur in various amounts throughout the year.
The All 5 Ride allows riders of all levels to pick a distance they are comfortable with. Riders meander through pines, oaks, hemlocks, maples and other native plants along with abundant wildlife featuring black bears, turkey, deer and other small game. Grand Gap and John Muir trails present massive rock shelters and several scenic views of the Big South Fork River from the rim of the gorge 500 feet above the river and its huge boulders.
While all five of these trails are open to hikers, only Grand Gap and John Muir trails have high levels of foot traffic. Horses are not allowed on the mountain bike trails listed here.
In addition to the mountain biking experience, Big South Fork also offers several outdoor recreation activities: swimming, hiking, backpacking, boating in whitewater that is not controlled flow, horseback riding, fishing and hunting. There is an additional hiking/biking trail called Chestnut Ridge that offers a 13-mile loop beginning at the Rock Creek Trailhead. It offers some flowing singletrack and an overlook of the park.
The only formal lodging inside the park is the Charit Creek Lodge. The lodge is located in the Station Camp Creek drainage and offers a full range of amenities including cabin and dormitory rentals, meals, restrooms and showers. Access to the remote lodge is by foot, bike or horse only. Big South Fork also maintains five developed campgrounds.
Directions to Trailhead:
From I-75, take Exit 141 and travel west on Hwy 63 to Huntsville. Take Hwy 27 north to Oneida, then Hwy 297 west to Big South Fork.
From I-40 take hwy 127 North at Crossville, TN, to Jamestown, then Hwy 154 north, then Hwy 297 east to Big South Fork.
Once inside the park, follow the signs to the Bandy Creek Visitor Center. Free, detailed maps of the bike trails are available there. Bandy Creek Campground and a swimming pool are also located next to the visitor center.