35 Miles / 1800 Feet of Climbing
Ride to where the valley starts on the north end of Sequatchie Valley, taking in fascinating history and gorgeous scenery along the way!
Potential Route Modifications: There are numerous ways to shorten this route. All of these options take you from Old Highway 28 (where you’ll be heading north) over to East Valley Road (where you’ll head south). Turning on Ninemile Cross Road will reduce the ride by 15 miles. Turning on Melvin Crossroads Road will reduce the ride by 8.5 miles. Turning on Lowes Gap Road will reduce the ride by 6.5 miles. Turning on Sequatchie Valley Road will reduce the ride by 5 miles.
This gorgeous ride will take you from Pikeville all the way north to where the valley begins, exploring the valley’s hilly upper end through beautiful farmland and low traffic backroads. (Please note that there are no convenience stores or restrooms available on this route. You will be riding through rural farmland without amenities.)
Park on Main Street in downtown Pikeville in front of the Bledsoe County Courthouse. (The courthouse has clean restrooms that are open to the public starting at 7:30 Central Standard Time.) Before rolling out, consider taking a look at Veterans Park (paying tribute to Bledsoe County veterans) which sits next door to the Courthouse. And just around the corner from the park is the farmers market pavilion, which is usually bustling with activity Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings during the growing season.
Pikeville was established in 1816 as the county seat of Bledsoe County and is believed to have been named for the early American explorer Zebulon Pike, for whom Pike’s Peak in Colorado was named. Because Highway 28 bypasses downtown, Main Street has been able to retain many historic buildings and has a small-town charm worth exploring.
If you’re into historic homes, ride a short distance down Main Street to the south and you’ll find some real gems, including the White Wagon Bed & Breakfast. Also check out the old 1850’s jail building a couple of blocks away at the intersection of Frazier Street and Cranwell Street. (It’s now the Bledose County Veterans Service Office.)
For more information about the history of Bledsoe County, click here.
The route takes you out of town heading east on Cumberland Avenue. On your left, just after passing the farmers market pavilion, is the historic Ross House, which used to be the town's hospital and now houses a medical museum. And on your right, just after crossing the Sequatchie River, is a church dating back to 1870 that once served as the Freedmen's Bureau school and church.
After passing the church, the road will turn up as you climb a small hill, guaranteed to wake up the legs! After the hill, Cumberland Avenue bends to the left and becomes East Valley Road.
Around Mile 2.5, take a left on Mill Dam Road. (For some reason the street sign for this road is popular with thieves, so you'll want to pay attention to your odometer since the sign for this road will most likely be missing!) Mill Dam Road is a fun road with punchy rollers and a mix of tree tunnels and farm views. You can also see the dam and the foundation for the old grist mill (which burned many years ago) off to your right as you cross over the Sequatchie River.
Mill Dam Road eventually “T’s” into Old Highway 28, where you’ll turn right. A short distance later, Old Highway 28 runs into new Highway 28. The old highway continues on the other side of the road, but it’s not a straight crossing. Look up the road to the right and you’ll be able to see where Old Highway 28 continues. The new Highway 28 is not terribly busy this far north, but do use caution when crossing over to continue on Old Highway 28. The old highway then runs along the west of the new highway before crossing back over to the east side. This is a straight crossing, and it’s the last you’ll see of the new Highway 28 on this ride!
The next several miles on Old Highway 28 take you through wide open farmland with beautiful views of the valley walls beyond. You may notice that these walls come closer together the farther north you ride as the valley starts to transition into a hillier landscape.
At Mile 15 be sure to veer left rather than taking a right onto Sequatchie Valley Road. (There’s no street sign here, so again keep an eye on your odometer.) If you miss this left turn, you’ll end up at East Valley Road and miss out on the upper five miles of the ride. These five miles at the north end of the valley are super scenic and offer a different type of landscape than the rest of the valley. You’ll also notice around Mile 17 that the Sequatchie River resembles more of a clear mountain stream than the cloudy river lower in the valley.
Shortly after crossing over the river, you’ll take a right on East Valley Road. (Thankfully there’s a sign here!) The road then bends to the right and heads south, taking you all the way back to Pikeville (a little over 17 miles from the turn).
If you're up for some more miles and more climbing, consider continuing straight on Old Highway 28 rather than turning onto East Valley Road. Two miles up the road from this intersection is Head of Sequatchie - a beautiful park that contains ancient pictographs and features the spring where the Sequatchie River starts! It also doubles as a trailhead for the Cumberland Trail. The park is open Thursday thru Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. central time, and has restrooms and potable water. It's a beautiful setting for a rest stop, even if it adds another 4 miles (out & back) and 400 feet of hard climbing to the ride! Be advised that the driveway into the park is gravel and at a pretty good slope, so use extra caution riding on it or simply walk your bike.
On your way back from the north end of the Valley, consider stopping at Swafford Chapel at Mile 25. The driveway is gravel, but it's not too long. The original church was a log cabin built in the 1820's. It was upgraded to a wooden structure in the 1850's and rebuilt again after the Civil War. The current church building was completed in 1912. Perhaps more interesting than the church building is the cemetery behind it, with headstones dating back generations and graves covered over with mounds made of limestone blocks.
Once back in Pikeville, reward yourself with a big meal at the Starling Cafe, located catty-cornered from the courthouse on Main Street, followed by a treat at Ember's Ice Cream Shoppe!