At some point in maybe the next few years i see myself living in a slower paced, more outdoorsy, less populated part of the country that would have lots of great riding over varying terrain to choose from. I have done the daydreaming and thought of BC but really i do not want to leave the USA just yet. The usual suspects like Colorado and Utah are on the radar but i something about them, at least at this point in my life, does not appeal to me. I stumbled across an article about mountain bike meccas other then Moab and started reading about Chattanooga pretty extensively after i saw it mentioned. I convinced a few friends to take a road trip down from NY late October to get in some riding maybe some bouldering, and check it out. The more i researched the trip the more the thoughts started churning that maybe,,,,This would be a great place to live. But maybe some of you all could tell me about it. About me and what i am after
-born and raised in NYC. 30 years old and ready for a chiller, slower pace. Want a backyard.
-Used to ride DH and DJ a ton but now love XC and AM riding. Prefer technical trails, berms and downhills. Would DJ if i had space to build some doubles. Still would DH but i think it is a bit pricey.
-would like access to a lot of trails nearby
-year round or almost year round riding would be ideal
-lots of bike shop experience, no degree but would like to ultimately head back to school for something in healthcare/counseling.
-single so if there was a decent late 20s to early 30s social scene that would not be great. Not much of a drinker so lack of clubs/bars is not a concern for me.
That is the gist of it. Any insight and opinions would be appreciated.
There is a good bit of riding to be done in Chattanooga, with Raccoon Mtn. being the best spot. Sorba chapter here is trying to get 100 miles of trails within 10 miles of the city's center. There's ~ 18 miles at Raccoon, 6 at Booker T. Washington State Park, 6 at Harrison Bay. Enterprise is up to about 6 I think, and growing. Plus a few other places that aren't as advertised. Chattanooga's also a close 1.5 -2.5 hours from some other good riding, but I haven't been able to get to any of that so hopefully others will respond. There's also the river for kayaking, boating, fishing, etc. White water rafting is an hour or so away.
Chattanooga is a great place to live and play! It is one of the greenest cities in the Southeast. We are currently building two seperate trail systems in the area. Chattanooga Sorba has 100 miles of trail within ten minutes of Chattanooga initiative. Lookout Mountain will have 30-40 miles and Enterprise South already has close ten miles that we just completed. Raccoon Mountain has 20 miles and Booker T has 6 miles. Lots of climbing, whitewater rafting, road biking, trail running etc. You would not be disappointed. A very beautiful part of the country.
chattanooga is an outdoorsmans mecca for sure. tons of climbing/bouldering spots all around the area. as far as mtb trails you won't be disappointed. along with the trails mentioned above, there are many more to choose from in every direction. n. georgia has several as does the ocoee area. chilhowee, brush creek, tanasi, fort mountain, windy gap, and pinhoti, to name a few. if you kayak there are several creeks in the area and of course there is the ocoee river that hosted the olympic boating events. as far as the social scene goes i think you are more likely to find like minded people while out on the trails and at the climbing spots than in bars. not that we are hurting for bars here but there really aren't any "real" night clubs. i personally don't care for bars or clubs myself so i really can't give much info on those. chattanooga is a great place to live.
Chattanooga sounds great. I'd like to get in a visit there sometime and hit up Raccoon Mountain.
Another similar but a little colder town is Roanoke Virginia. I mention this in reference to your comment on health care. Roanoke is major health care hub and they are building a new medical college, good XC / AM and technical riding all around. No DH and free riding is in its infancy.
Lotta ridin go'n on in the Chatt. area, most has been covered so I wont bother repeat'n.
Jobs: Like every wher its slow, 2 large hospitals in town, also home to Blue Cross/Blue Shield and sevral med. type businesses, (Ther is the new V W plant go'n up and should be a lotta off shoot business from it also a large company buildin wind towers startin up) Vanderbuilt is in Nashville and is a large teaching hospital.
Bars: depends on what you like, the down town scene is a busy place, sevral nice places and Chatt. has lots of music venues and festivals, the river bend festival (look it up online to get a idea) last all week with a mountain of bands and sevral big names always on the list, always some kind of happenin in town, this weekend ther was a brewers fest, look at it this way it's Tennessee, we love us some music, "owlkeehauwl" and pretty women (unless your gay then your on your own, dont keep up with ther scene.)
Climate: Not bad at all, the worst is humidity in the summer (brace your self), winters aint nothin like you have in N.Y., a little snow / ice, mild temps so you should be fine.
Crime: depends on wher your live, the gangs are givin the local "jump out boys (cops)" a fit, its always somthin but thats just city life I guess, but it aint all bad dont get me wrong, lotta very nice places in town, all in what ya want.(and cash flow)
Mite be a little somethin to think about, oh yeah, sevral bike shops around plus they build Lite Speed bike just up the road.
Thanks for chiming in everyone. The links were great and had i used the old search function i would have seen this question asked and answered before!
A few follow ups:
From what i have now been reading it seems like Chat trails are currently a work in progress rather then a fully established network of trails (Fruita comes to mind...Maybe Boise Idaho is another one?) with Raccoon MTN being the flagship, correct?
Here in NYC we recently, in the last few years, have gotten two city parks to allow trails_one with 2.5 miles and the other about a 30 minute drive away with 7 miles. I am a huge fan of then but would not travel long ways if those were the only trails to ride...We would of course hit all the other good stuff 45 minutes to 1.5 hours away from the city! Unfortunately the drive back usually takes fair bit longer with traffic. An aspect of mountain biking here i am very much not a fan of.
With that said, our drive down will be close to or more then 13 hours in length...We want to get our riding in! If we wanted to get the best representation of Chat and the surrounding or trails-on-the-way, what would you all suggest? Is it worth the drive down to Chat for 4-5 days of available riding time (other reasons aside)? What are some of the other spots (Tanasi?) we should hit on our tour? What would be the ideal order if we are coming from the north?
The bulk of our groups riding is between 2-3.5 hours in length, maybe 10-15 miles or so of very technical trails once or twice a week here in the Northeast. Single track preferred. Tech is great. Fast and flowy would be fantastic. There will be four of us, maybe a dog, and we want to camp out as much as possible.
As an alternative to Monte Sano, you wish to visit the section of the Georgia Pinhoti Trail near Dalton, GA, it can be ridden as an out-and-back trail - which is about 45 minutes away from down town Chattanooga.
Another alternative would be Franklin State Forests trails which can be ridden as a 21 miles loop - about 55 minutes away from down town Chattanooga
There are plenty of smaller trail networks in between, but the lack trail length and are not as impressive.
It depends on your tastes, of course, but I like riding at Monte Sano better than Raccoon Mountain. Granted I only rode Raccoon once and we didn't hit the trail section that is called "Chunky" freeride. In my opinion the Monte Sano trails are more technical in their rocky sections, really challenging you on your balance and slow speed agility. Their main down side is that most of the trails are pretty rocky with lots of loose "baby head" sized rocks. This makes the downhill sections really hard for me to keep up good speed. There are guys that ride it fast for sure, but it is more than I can do. There is a really fun trail called "Family Trail" that is very fast and flowing without all the rocks. This is our warm up to do goat trail, warpath, etc.
As mentioned above, it is a ways from Chattanooga. If you are coming down here for a visit, I suggest trying out Monte Sano as well. There is camping here at the park. I am not sure Huntsville (where MS is located) is the best town for a young individual, but there is a pretty strong job base with the military work. If you do make it down, drop me a pm and we'll ride.
I am most interested in browsing at the latest toys. No repairs or specific bikes that I need. I do need to check out pads and gloves, but those are usually everywhere. So, mainly looking for the "fun place to browse" shop. I do need a B-spring for a M952 XTR rear derailleur, along with a set of hen's teeth.