There wasn’t much of a mountain biking scene in Memphis in the late 1990s and early 2000s, until a few members of the Mid-South Trails Association (MSTA) took it upon themselves to bring the sport back to the area. They formed Stanky Creek Cycling (SCC), worked closely with the MSTA to develop trails, and put a few now-beloved races on the calendar. After a serious thunderstorm caused unprecedented damage to the area in July 2003, members of the SCC and MSTA worked together to clean up and repair the Stanky Creek system, which opened back up later that year. There are now three trails, ranging from less than two miles to more than six miles, and sections can be combined for a bigger, eight-mile loop.
What Makes It Great
Stanky Creek’s tight, twisty singletrack is some of the best and most challenging in Tennessee, and certainly in the Memphis area. The trail system has three loops, which you can combine for up to an eight-mile loop. There’s the Blue Trail, less than two miles long, which features a few brushy turns and several good-sized drops (the second one is a doozy). The Yellow Trail clocks in at 2.2 miles and is the narrowest trail on the property—the SCC describes several sections as “tree pinball,” and warns that they’ll “leave the bowlegged bruised and the wide bar types swollen.” (Get ready for a creek crossing, too.) The longest loop, the 6.5-mile White Trail, will get your heart pumping. There’s plenty of ups and downs, and the loop includes the one-mile Outhouse Trail, which locals consider to be one of the best in Memphis.
If you’re looking for some camaraderie or competitive spirit, SCC hosts several annual events, including a Summer Time Trial Series, SCC Herb Paxon’s XC Race in July, the Legend of Stanky Creek races (cross-country and time trial events, held in mid-August), and the renowned 12 Hours of Stank in September.
Who is Going to Love It
The Stanky Creek trails are the most technical around—they’re where Memphis mountain bikers (and visitors to the area) go to ride fun, high-quality singletrack. As technical singletrack goes, it’s generally considered appropriate for advanced beginner or intermediate riders, though it’s advanced for the area and considerably more technical than any of its neighboring rides. For the especially adventurous, there are plenty of dirt jumps and pumpy, narrow sections. Enthusiastic mountain bikers won’t be disappointed.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Located less than 15 miles east of Memphis in Nesbit Park, the Stanky Creek trail system is managed by the City of Bartlett Parks Department. Park in the spacious lot at the southern end of the park and be sure to obey the directional signs, as all trails are one-way.