Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tanasi is Tana-riffic!

On the forth and final day of my trip I went to the Tanasi Trails near Ocoee, TN, about 2 hours north of Atlanta. This another IMBA Epic area. A trail map can be found here.

This place was incredible. The trails just seemed to flow very well. Moderate climbs were rewarded by great downhills. The possible combination's of trail seem endless. The scenery was majestic from every viewpoint. I could have stayed here for days.

The Ocoee Whitewater center is where it all starts. Don't Google map it, you'll go to the wrong place. This is the building you need to find. Just drive east on 64 from Ocoee and you'll find it. If you get to North Carolina you've gone too far.

Just like in Tsali, the parking lot has an envelope type fee system. Put your $3 in the envelope, write down your information, and keep the receipt. At Tsali you keep the receipt with you, here you need to hand it on your mirror. Its really easy, but it does require taking a few minutes to read the instructions.

The parking lot runs along the river. It was the first of a lot of scenery yet to come.

The trail head for the Bear Paw Loop is very well marked at the end of the eastern bridge. This trail was the most difficult climb of the day. Although it was challenging, I was able to do it without any issues.

All trail junctions and roads were very well marked. I missed a few turns, once because I interpeted the sign wrong, the other time because I was going so fast downhill I didn't see the sign. As usual, I paid for my mistakes with long climbs back up the hill, but for some reason I didn't mind. This place was that good.

From here I ran the Chestnut Mountain Loop CCW until I got to the Thunder Rock Express. I screamed down the TRE, then I climbed back up the fire road and West Fork Trail to get back to the Chestnut Mountain Loop, where I made my way back to the parking lot.

Although the trail was covered in leaves, it was always easy to find.

Trail markers at every junction.

There were sections of the trail just like Tsali. Skinny and slippery with zero room for mistakes. I learned from my nasty fall at Tsali and slowed down when I needed to. No crashes today.

These downhill runs were a lot of fun. I can imagine they are a lot better before the leaves fall and it gets so slippery.

This view at the powerline area was very nice.

This bridge was near the bottom of the Thunder Rock Express. The Thunder Rock Express is great fun, and the climb back up to the Chestnut Mountain Loop is primarily on fire roads and double track, and it really wasn't that steep.

Here is the bottom of the Thunder Rock express. It was really a great time getting here.

After the Thunder Rock Express I started up the Fire Road. Slow and steady wins the race.

At the top of the fire road is the well marked beginning of the West Fork Trail.

The caution portion of this sign warns about the Black Bears. I talked with a hunter who told me this area was a bear preserve. I ate my Cliff bar quickly and went on my way, before the bears sniffed me out.

This is the top of the fire road at the beginning of the West Fork Trail.

The West Fork Trail started out as some downhill singletrack, but then it quickly became more of the same slow steady climb uphill. It was a small price to pay for the fun I would have later.

This picture does not do justice to the scenery near the highest point for the day. It was 60 degrees and sunny, I just climbed to the top of the world, and I knew this was my last fun run for this trip, as it was time to go home for my Thanksgiving dinner. At least the trip was ending on a good note.

I didn't take any more pictures from here on out, I was going too fast too stop. The rest of the Chestnut Mountain Loop was fast downhill runs with some easy to power up climbs. Then I got in the car and drove home to Cleveland. Someday I will return to ride here again.

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