Mountain bikers are getting more trail time at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee.
The Grand Gap Loop Trail is a shared use trail for both hikers and bikers in the park, but until recently bikers could only use it Monday through Friday. Now, though, the trail has been opened to bikers every day of the week.
The trail provides spectacular views of geological formations and the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Park officials say opening the trail to use seven days a week will increase the opportunity for bikers to enjoy this beautiful route.
There are several ways to enjoy the Grand Gap Loop Trail. Except for a few moderately technical sections, the 6.4-mile-loop is a mostly flat, smooth single track. The trail is alongside several rock shelters and cliff line overlooks of the river. Bikers can also take John Muir Trail from Grand Gap Loop to Station Camp area, which is a 7.5-mile extension of the Grand Gap northward. This single track trail is flat, smooth and flows well. It connects to Duncan Hollow Road.
There are two popular options for riding both Grand Gap and John Muir Trail. For an 18-mile ride, park your vehicle at the intersection of Duncan Hollow and Alfred Smith Roads (no facilities). Ride 1.8 miles down Alfred Smith Road to Grand Gap. Ride Grand Gap, then continue north on the John Muir Trail and return to your vehicle via Duncan Hollow Road.
For a 28-mile out and back single track ride, drive 1.8 miles down Alfred Smith Road to a small trailhead parking lot at the Grand Gap Loop-Alfred Smith Road intersection. Begin by riding Grand Gap Loop and then the John Muir Trail to its northern end. Turn around and return to the trailhead.
For further information, contact the Bandy Creek Visitor Center at (423) 286-7275.