10/15/2015 NOTE:Raccoon Mountain will be closed for routine reservoir maintenance, which includes access to the boat ramp, biking and hiking trails. Closed: Oct. 17 - Nov. 21T-WALL/PRENTICE COOPER will be closed to recreation the following dates for hunting.Sep. 19-25Oct. 8-10 Oct. 29-31Nov. 6-8Nov. 28 - Dec. 3ROCKTOWN will be closed to recreation the following dates for hunting.Oct. 18-19Nov. 13-15Dec. 10-13If you have no experience climbing steep gradients, Raccoon Mountain will put your legs to the test! However, if you're ready for a challenge and want to experience the spectacular Tennessee River Gorge via road bike, this is the ride for you.
What Makes It Great
Famous for its mountain biking and trail running, Raccoon Mountain is a challenging destination for road cyclists as well. Raccoon receives relatively low traffic which means that - once you actually get there - the roads are among the best in the city for cycling.
From downtown, you'll travel Broad Street and Cummings Highway, both designated bike routes (although much of Cummings lacks a shoulder). The 3.3 mile climb up Raccoon averages 8% grade with sections as steep as 18%. Once on top, a loop around the reservoir is great for recovery, with spectacular views. Gliding across the tremendous rock-fill dam, with the lake below on one side and the river gorge on the other, is almost akin to flying. Following a speedy descent, you'll have a peaceful journey along the Tennessee River and a panoramic view of the Tennessee Wall, a sandstone cliff band known for world-class rock climbing.
On the way back, it's usually best to ride straight through town on Broad Street, but you could just as easily re-trace the entry route on Riverside drive if there is traffic.
Who is Going to Love It
You don't have to be an absolute animal to enjoy this ride - be you do have to be able to climb one steep mountain.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
A great place to park is at 2 North Shore near Rock/Creek.
The best time to go is around 6 p.m. in the summer or very early morning to avoid rush hour traffic on Broad Street.