31 Miles / 1900 Feet of Climbing
The perfect low-traffic loop with a little bit of everything - farmland scenery, backwoods rollers, creekside stretches and wide-open vistas!
Potential Route Modifications: Turn this route into a 19 mile loop (with half the climbing) by continuing straight on Old Federal Road/Co Rd 461 rather than turning right onto Macedonia Martin Gap Road/Co Rd 480. Old Federal Road will take you to Rogers Road where you can pick up the route back into Englewood.
This is one of our favorite rides, as it provides a sampling of the best of everything in this part of the Chattanooga region - farmland, woodland, hills, and creekside flats - all in a manageable 31-mile loop. It also has the perfect start/finish at the Tellico Junction Cafe in downtown Englewood.
Englewood is a small town and you should have no problem finding a parking spot in front of the cafe. They open early, and you're welcome to use their restrooms before you head out for the ride.
We've mapped the route to avoid having to ride on Hwy 39 by cutting through some neighborhood streets, but if traffic is light you can just ride directly to County Road 550 also known as Casey Gap Zion Hill Road. (The roads on this route are sometimes marked with the county road number and sometimes with the street name, so we will use both to identify them.)
Once on Casey Gap Zion Hill Road/Co Rd 550, you'll head south less than a mile before taking a left onto Tom Martin Road/Co Rd 520. A couple of miles later Tom Martin Road will "T" into Zion Hill Spring/Co Rd 516 and you'll take a left, following it across Hwy 411. (There's a median in the middle of Hwy 411 that helps with the crossing.)
Once on the other side of Hwy 411 the road is known as Mars Hill Road/Co Rd 508. You'll follow Mars Hill Road until it "T's" into Old Federal Road/Co Rd 461. A mile later you'll turn right onto Macedonia Martin Gap Road/Co Rd 480, which is where the fun begins! While the pavement is a little rough, and you'll start off with some climbing, it's a gorgeous stretch of wooded backroad with some fun curves and a nice long descent on the back half of the road.
As with all of the roads on this route, none of the climbs and descents are very long, so don't be surprised when an enjoyable descent is interrupted by a ramp - or when a steep climb suddenly turns into a fun descent! Also, you may encounter dogs on some of these low-traffic backroads. Most of these dogs are just making noise and can be shooed away with a soothing or stern voice. All the same, have a water bottle handy in case you need to spray one in the nose.
Macedonia Martin Gap Road eventually runs into Mecca Pike/Co Rd 310. While not a terribly busy road, Mecca Pike does have a higher speed limit, so be aware of passing vehicles and ride single file if you're in a group. Fortunately, Mecca Pike is a pretty road and you're only on it for a short stretch. After a couple of miles on Mecca Pike, you'll turn left onto Hwy 39/Liberty Hill Road and then immediately take a right onto Weir Road/Co Rd 468.
Weir Road is a beautiful but tiny road that feels more like a long driveway. It initially starts along Conasauga Creek before turning into a roller coaster of a road. It also changes names to Freeman Road/Co Rd 760 as you cross out of McMinn County into Monroe County (not that you'll notice).
Freeman Road "T's" into Shoal Creek Road/Co Rd 758, where you'll take a left. As the name indicates, this road follows Shoal Creek and is a beautiful ride. After a mile and a half, look for Loftis Hill Road/Co Rd 762 on the left. Yes, Loftis Hill really is a hill, so be ready to climb. But as with all of the climbs on this route, it doesn't last too long and rewards you with a fun descent on the other side!
Veer to the left at the bottom of the hill, turning onto Red River Road/Co Rd 768. Red River Road comes out of the woods into a gorgeous meadow before dropping back into the woods as it follows Cline Branch. This is a fun section with a nice descent!
Red River Road runs into Wilson Station Road/Co Rd 778. You'll take a left here and start to notice signs of civilization again after being in the woods for so long. (Watch for chickens crossing the road!)
Half a mile later, you'll turn onto Church Road, which starts off with a fun descent into open pasture land and then quickly shoots straight up into a steep climb. The climb is well worth the effort as the view over your shoulder back towards the mountains is calendar-worthy!
The climb ends at the intersection of Church Road and Old Federal Road, where you'll take a left. Enjoy the views of the mountains off to your left as you cruise along this section. A half-mile later, you'll turn right onto Rogers Road and then right again onto Little Gudger Road. (The actual street sign calls it Reynold Road, but it's listed as Little Gudger Road on maps. Regardless of what the name really is, it's obvious where to turn as it's the first right you'll come to after turning onto Rogers Road.) This section of the route is cattle country, so watch out for mud and gravel on the road from agricultural vehicles.
Stay on Little Gudger Road all the way across Hwy 411 (again there's a median to help you get across), until it "T's" into Gudger Road, where you'll take a left. A mile later, Gudger Road "T's" into Plaza Road, and you'll take a right. Be ready to climb once you get onto Plaza Road as it heads uphill to the appropriately named Ridge Road/Co Rd 408.
After taking a left on Ridge Road, you'll follow it for a few miles, riding the rollers and enjoying the views of the mountains in the distance off to your left. Stay to the left on Ridge Road and it will become Manila Road/Co Rd 415. (Do NOT turn right across the bridge at mile 28.4.) The pavement improves dramatically once you're on Manilla Road and you may notice a few more cars.
Look for Martin Street at mile 30.4 and take a left, This will get you out of the traffic and onto the neighborhood streets which will run you all the way down to Main Street and back to the cafe in downtown Englewood - where you can refuel on some excellent home cooking and homemade desserts!