I previously scouted out the trailhead for a rough trail system on Signal Mountain that is widely listed as available for mountain biking. At the time, I was not impressed. It was terribly muddy double track with no signage that obviously had been torn up by off-road vehicles and seemed somewhat like a sketchy area to be riding alone. I neglected it for a couple of years until finally getting a chance to go with someone who knew the trails.
There are several trailheads and our guide selected one of the unmarked entry points and we set off. Even though the weather had been dry for quite some time, we still encountered huge mud holes with regular frequency, although most of the rough track was smooth enough. The ride out from the trailhead was mostly downhill and fast. We passed a couple of unmarked trail intersections but it was pretty clear which paths are the ones that lead to the lookout point. I asked about markings and my guide pointed out yellow blazes that mark the main trail. We could hear engines revving off in the woods and stopped to identify whether or not they were coming our way but eventually determined the motor vehicles were on a different track and rode on out to the lookout over the Tennessee River Gorge.
There were some dirt bike riders out there checking out the view, along with some various hikers and trail runners with dogs. I got nervous when some of the dogs were playing right along the edge of the cliff but somehow they avoided falling over. We took a few photos with cell phone cameras and decided to head back by a slightly different route. This turned out to have a rather stout climb over leafy trail slightly narrower than what we had ridden on the way out. And the climbing continued. I realized that we had dropped more elevation than was apparent on the way out and soon we were cranking hard, but it was nothing worse than other local trail systems. Along the way we passed assorted hikers, families with small children, and kids with department store bikes. We decided to start exploring a side trail for a while but soon heard shotgun blasts and I persuaded the others to turn back since it looked like a more lightly traveled trail and sounded unfavorable due to the gunfire.
When we finally pulled out from the trailhead, we passed three police cars at one of the other trailheads. My suspicion is they were attracted by the probably illegal shooting. The view from Edwards Point is nice but the trail is very low quality and I was cautioned about riding there alone, which was not encouraging. At least my curiosity about the trail system was satisfied.
|The view downstream. Opposite is Raccoon Mountain.|
|Development on Signal Mountain, because it doesn't have enough already.|
|Stacy goofing on the cliff. I'm surprised she wasn't closer to the edge, normally she would be.|