Bikepacking at its best! Take a journey through the deep woods and beautiful backroads of the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains on a bikepacking route like no other: THREE RIVERS WAY! Named for the three rivers that define this gorgeous landscape - the Ocoee, Hiwassee & Tellico - Three Rivers Way is truly a bucket-list bikepacking adventure. With two distances to choose from, you'll discover a carefully crafted course designed to maximize your experience both on and off the bike. Ride it solo or join us for the annual Grand Depart. Either way, you'll find breathtaking views and stunning scenery on this adventure of a lifetime!
The VISTA uses the best singletrack, gravel, and tarmac that the Cherokee National Forest and the surrounding area have to offer to showcase the beauty of the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains.
The MOUNTAIN is an expanded version of the Vista route that includes the deep woods of the Chattahoochee National Forest in north Georgia.
Click on the maps above to see the complete Ride With GPS files which have downloadable GPX files. These routes were designed by Kim Murrell of Chilhowee Outdoors, an accomplished bikepacker who understands firsthand what makes for a great bikepacking experience. We're excited to have Kim on the team and look forward to introducing Three Rivers Way to an even bigger audience of bikepacking enthusiasts!
While the annual mid-May Grand Depart is a great opportunity to share the experience of bikepacking Three Rivers Way, the routes can be ridden solo any time. It should also be noted that the routes have been designed to be ridden in either a massive single stage or in segments. Either way, they should be taken seriously due to the climbing and difficult terrain.
THE GRAND DEPART
The Grand Depart is a free annual event held in mid-May where bikepackers set off together to ride Three Rivers Way. While participants have the opportunity to have their ride timed, it is NOT a race. Each rider sets their own pace and is self-supported. There are no aid stations, wayfinding or support on the course. The Grand Depart is simply a send-off.
The 2020 Grand Depart has been cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, but we look forward to welcoming riders next year for the May 15, 2021 Grand Depart!
Participating in the Grand Depart is FREE! (If you feel inspired to contribute to the promotion of bikepacking in the Three Rivers region and the development of bikepacking routes, please use the form below to make a donation to the cause!)
Beginning June 1, 2020, parking will be available for $3/day at Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park where the official route starts. (Please not not attempt to park there prior to June 1st as the campground will still be closed.) Riders will need to check in at the park office and register prior to parking. Please park along the fence row within the group camp gates.
The $3/day fee includes use of shower and restroom facilities, but does not include campsites, which need to be reserved separately. Click here for more information about camping at Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park.
SUPPORT & WAYFINDING
Riding Three Rivers Way is a self-supported endeavor, both individually or as part of the Grand Depart. It is imperative that you familiarize yourself with the route prior to attempting the ride and that you prepare a nutrition & hydration plan. Please note that the majority of roads on the route (especially in the national forest) do not have signs.
The Grand Depart is run entirely by volunteers, as is the maintenance of the routes. There is no charge to ride the routes or participate in the Grand Depart. However, registration is required for the Grand Depart, and donations are encouraged to support our efforts to promote and expand bikepacking in the region through infrastructure improvements and fun events such as the Grand Depart!
GRAND DEPART REGISTRATION
Registration for the 2021 Grand Depart is not yet open, but bikepackers are welcome to ride Three Rivers Way at any time on their own.
As the official start & finish of Three Rivers Way, the Ocoee/Hiwassee Scenic River State Park is the obvious choice for where to stay, especially if you're participating in the Grand Depart, but if you're looking for an upgrade from camping, or would rather camp elsewhere, there are plenty of other great options in the area!
Special thanks to our friends and partners for their support of bikepacking in our beautiful neck of the woods!
Interested in supporting the Friends of the Hiwassee/Ocoee State Park in their efforts to promote bicycle tourism in the region? Contact us for marketing opportunities!
Have a question? Need more info? Let us know how we can help!