25 Miles / 1500 Feet of Climbing
Take in gorgeous scenery and push yourself on steep pitches on this short but challenging loop featuring beautiful farmland, curvy backroads and excellent pavement - plus a fantastic winery with a panoramic view of the mountains!
Potential Route Modifications: While it's impossible to avoid hills on this route you can reduce the challenge by turning left onto Old Union Grove after Mile 16. Old Union Grove goes directly to the Morris Vineyard and reduces the route to roughly 17.5 miles and 1,000 feet of climbing. Another shortcut (reducing the route to 16.4 miles) is to continue straight on Bakers Bridge Road rather than turning right onto Mt Harmon Road at Mile 13.5. You can also add challenge and distance (making it 34 miles and 2,000 feet of climbing) by starting in Charleston (the Hiwassee River Heritage Center makes a good launching point) and taking Upper River Road to Council Road where you can pick up the route.
This is a gorgeous ride featuring beautiful farmland scenery, fun twisty backroads, and excellent pavement - plus a fantastic winery with a panoramic view of the mountains! But don't be fooled by its short length. This is hill country, and many of the punchy climbs on this route are in the double-digit grades! So be prepared to gear down and power up the steep pitches. It's a challenging route that feels much longer than 25 miles, but it is well worth the effort to take in the scenery.
We think the best way to enjoy this area is to start and finish at Morris Vineyard. In addition to offering free wine tasting, they have a covered pavilion with tables that are perfect for a picnic. So pack a lunch and park at the vineyard and set yourself up for a relaxing post-ride afternoon!
Leaving the peaceful grounds of the winery may be hard, especially when you have to climb a short hill right off the bat, but you'll soon be cruising downhill on Cates Lane (watch your speed on this fast, curvy descent!), followed by a gentle downhill along Chatata Valley Road. This is an especially idyllic section of roadway as you roll through the little community of New Friendship.
On the other side of New Friendship you'll take a left on Julian Road, which takes you up a climb with a beautiful view of picturesque farmland scenery over your right shoulder.
After the hill, turn right on Evans Road, which will take you up yet another hill to Chilcutt Road. Turn left on Chilcutt Road and you'll head downhill through a beautiful (and affluent) community with a photogenic lake and some really fun curves! The fun continues with a right turn onto Old Johnson Road, which is a gorgeous tree-lined lane that finishes with a fast downhill before it intersects with Benton Pike.
Benton Pike has faster traffic so use caution when turning onto it. Fortunately, you'll only be on it for a very short stretch before turning left onto Lower Chestuee Road. After crossing Lower Chestuee Creek, you'll turn right onto Hickory Road, followed by a left onto Freeman Circle.
Freeman Circle will take you to Benton Station Road, where you'll take a left. Half a mile later (after passing Benton Station Baptist Church), you'll turn left onto Baker Bridge Road and head uphill. As the road levels off, look to your right for Mt Harmon Road.
This narrow little lane is a real treat as it takes you through an extended section of woodland. As you come out of the trees, you'll see historic Mt Harmon Church on the right. Immediately after the church, turn right onto Green Road (also known as Old Mt Harmon Road), which is another gorgeous narrow lane. Stay to the right when the road splits, and take it over to Upper River Road.
After turning left on Upper River Road, you'll enjoy a nice downhill before taking on a sizeable climb, followed by some more up & down. After a little over 3 miles on Upper River Road, you'll turn left on Council Road.
Council Road is yet another beautiful little road, but it kicks off with a climb that lasts a full mile before you finally reach the top. (Don't be fooled by the false summits!) The climbing does eventually end, and you'll be rewarded with a fun descent down to Chatata Valley Road.
After the climb on Council Road, the rollers on Chatata Valley should be no problem as you work your way down to Old Bacon Road. Old Bacon is the grand finale and the last hurdle before making it back to the winery. Unfortunately, it's also the hardest! It starts off innocently enough, but after a mile and a half, you'll hit the first of two super steep hills. The second one has a grade that tops off at almost 20 percent!
Once you're over the top of the second climb, it's downhill all the way back to the winery, where you'll be rewarded with great views and excellent wine!