With summer heating up, mountain biking can be more like an adventure in staying hydrated. But with everything in full bloom, there are also opportunities to cycle in the shade of some of the region's most gorgeous river- and stream-side routes. Here are a few cool trails to consider.
Steele Creek | Bristol, Tenn.
It's a bit of a drive, but the Steele Creek Trail is among the most scenic in the state. However, it's not for novices or the faint of heart. Some intense climbs and elevation changes require technical skills to maneuver throughout the trail system. But the Lakeside Trail, which loops around gorgeous Steele Creek Park's lake, is gentler, making it perfect for new riders or families.
Bear Creek Trail | 30 minutes north of Ellijay, Ga.
This section of the Pinhoti Trail System gives experienced cyclists a workout, while also showcasing the natural beauty of the Chattahoochee National Forest. The 13-mile route snakes along and across Bear Creek at certain points. Get ready to get wet!
North Mills River | 30 minutes south of Asheville, N.C.
The North Mills River trail system is a complex network of trail loops that center around the North Mills River in Pisgah National Forest. The loops feature numerous stream crossings and scenic paths through patches of wildflowers and thickets of rhododendron and mountain laurel.
Suck Creek Trail | Chattanooga, Tenn.
Suck Creek Trail, the namesake of Suck Creek Cycles, is a common mountain biking path that makes for a shady and relaxing summer route. It closely follows Suck Creek for much of the trail's 35-mile journey, and should be a trail all local cyclists ride at some point.
Citico Creek Trail | Tellico Plains, Tenn.
Citico Creek is a one-stop shop for outdoor adventure in Tellico Plains, and mountain biking is no exception. The ride along this 12-mile trail is gentler in regards to elevation change than the nearby Cowcamp Ridge Loop, and crosses its namesake creek dozens of times. The Citico Creek watershed highlights several waterfalls as well, providing beautiful scenery for your ride.