Friday, April 29, 2016

Biking Chattanooga's Riverwalk Trail

I began the ride from the north side of the Tennessee River in Coolidge Park, and after working my way from the parking lot (parking fee is $2 per 2 hours, pay at machine) I crossed the river on the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge seen in the first two photos below.

Turn left over the bridge, walk your bike over the glass-bottom bridge and past the museum buildings, and follow the road down the hill and to the right. I had to ask a local resident for directions as none of this is marked. Then look for the blue paint as seen below -- on bridges, light poles, garbage cans, rest benches, and railings -- and you'll know you're on the trail.

Wet and low areas are bridged as seen below...

Eventually and occasionally you'll get good views of the Tennessee River as you head the seven miles to the Chickamauga Dam (TVA) where the trail ends.

The trail is paved, wide, and in extremely well maintained. This Riverpark greenway is the pride of Chattanooga, is well used, and is well cared for.

Every mile or so you'll come to parks with rest rooms, benches, picnic tables, grass lawns, etc. These are all accessible from Amnicola Road, and if you drive the road and park in one of these parks, you'll have free parking and amenities, and enter the trail at the well-marked segment of the trail.

The Chickamauga Dam signals the end of the Riverwalk Trail.

Tennessee Riverpark website

Biking the Louisville Loop

The Louisville Loop is an estimated 100-mile trail system that will eventually encircle the city. The imagine below provides a rough overview of all the parts of the Loop that have been constructed, designed, and planned (click to enlarge.)

Today we biked in "The Parklands of Floyds Creek" through The Strand, Pope Lick Park, Beckley Creek Park, Trestle Point, Distillery Bend, and Grand Allee, a 14 mile round-trip. At the seven mile mark we hit a section of trail that is closed area due to a landslide that blocks the trail. I biked the trail twice again in 2017 and the trail had been rebuilt in the closed section, a section called "The Strand" because it is a narrow band along the creek connecting the northern and sections of the park.

The Parklands spread over nearly 4000 acres, almost five times the size of New York City's Central Park, and a scenic park drive traverses the four parks.

The Floyds Fork watershed is in the far eastern part of the county, stretching from Shelbyville Road on the north to Bardstown Road on the south. It is characterized by its many creeks, and it features the oldest exposed bedrock in the county, Waynesville Limestone, which is as much as 500 million years old. Moving from west to east in this region, the landscape drops from 700-foot elevations to 440 feet in the Fork Creek bed.

As seen below, the trail is paved with concrete in areas that might flood and asphalt elsewhere. 

Mountain bikes have an extensive system of unpaved trails branching off the paved trail, and hiking trails also abound through the woods. Floyds creek also offers good paddling and several access points are available for paddlers.

Trestle Point features an active railine high above the bike trail and creek.

Road crossings are safe thanks to underpasses. Be aware that the trail has a number of big hills to get your heart rate up, though switchbacks help ease the burden a bit.

As you head south, you reach "The Strand" which had suffered a catastrophic landslide of a steep hill which closed this section for nearly a year as reconstruction work was undertaken. The solution was this tall concrete wall to hold the hillside in check.

The Strand is a narrow easement between the creek on the right and neighboring property on the left delineated by the fence line.

Three bridges take you across the creek as you traverse this narrow easement...

Below is a view of the lovely Floyds Fork which offers excellent opportunity to paddle through the park.

One of the five or so mountain bike trails is this one mile trail which leaves the paved path, follows close to the creek, and then returns to the paved trail.

Another seven miles or so of three mountain bike loops is built and is being enlarged in the Turkey Run Forest section of the park, denoted by the dotted trail lines on the map below.

The Hickory Trail is a 1.45 mile mountain bike trail, and the Chinkapin is 2.3 miles long. I biked the Paw Paw which is 2.3 miles long and is shown below. It does have sections with rock outcroppings and also has four creek crossings which may or not not have water in them.

The Parklands of Floyds Fork website

Biking Nashville's Stones River Trail

Nashville's Stones River Greenway travels about seven miles from the Cumberland River to the J. Percy Priest Reservoir, parallel to and occasionally within sight of Stones River. The trail connects a number of communities and parks including the skate park at Two Rivers Park where I began. This trailhead is adjacent to The Wave Country waterpark, just off Route 155 (Briley Parkway) and about a half mile south of the Grand Old Opry, Opry Mills, and Opryland Hotel complex.

The trail is paved and in very good repair. It was April and foliage was nearly in full bloom, making for a very scenic ride. The trail is not a former rail line so steep grades and a one-half mile long uphill will get your heart pumping.

Boardwalks and bridges protect fragile environmental areas and drainages.

Here's a photo of the namesake Stones River.

If you head left onto the trail from Two Rivers park, the trail takes you below the freeway and its ramps and then over the adjacent Cumberland River on the Pedestrian Bridge and gets you to Shelby Bottoms Greenway and another five miles of paved trails.