The trail will be the second in Tennessee to be designated on the U.S. Bicycle Route System, the Adventure Cycling Association announced Wednesday. In addition, another route starting in Memphis and going into Arkansas joined the system. This route will be the first designated U.S. Bicycle Route in Arkansas.
The U.S. Bicycle Route System is a network of numbered and signed routes that use existing roads, trails, and more to allow bike travel across the country. The network is growing with the goal of encompassing 50,000 miles of routes allowing for cross-country travel, regional touring, and commuting by bike according to the Adventure Cycling Association.
The new routes, along with the realignment of routes in Minnesota, New York, and Ohio, add more than 425 miles to the system. According to the Adventure Cycling Association, this will bring the total mileage to nearly 19,000.
Tennessee’s new route, USBR 21, begins in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park on the Kentucky border and continues through the Tennessee River Valley to Chattanooga and the Georgia border, linking Cleveland to Atlanta. Cyclists on the route will round Norris Lake, visit Knoxville, pass the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and cross the east side of Chickamauga Lake. In total, the route is 250.4 miles.
“Milestones matter, and the fact the USBRS is closing in on the 19,000-mile mark speaks to the successful collaboration between the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and our partners at Adventure Cycling,” said Jim Tymon, AASHTO executive director. “State departments of transportation are focused on delivering a safe, multimodal transportation system that offers mobility for all, and opening new routes in new states like Arkansas, which joins the USBRS this year, shows this partnership’s commitment to do just that.”
Arkansas’ first U.S. Bicycle Route travels from the Mississippi River on the Tennessee border to the Arkansas River at Little Rock. Cyclists will wind through rural areas and historical downtowns of the Arkansas Delta. The Adventure Cycling Association added that the route is the first segment of USBR 80 designated in the country.
State departments of transportation developed the routes which will then be officially designated by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation. Adventure Cycling helps to “shepherd the growth” of the system. Their staff offers technical assistance, volunteer coordination, and outreach to help states reach the official designation of routes.
With the new routes and realignments, the system covers 18,953 miles of routes in 34 states and Washington, D.C. In addition, at least 38 states are developing U.S. Bicycle Routes. Maps for all designated U.S. Bicycle Routes can be found for free on the Adventure Cycling Association website.
“This round of designations marks exciting progress for this project,” said Jennifer O’Dell, Executive Director of Adventure Cycling. “I’m particularly excited to see a first-time designation for Arkansas, a state I called home for many years. Thank you to Adventure Cycling members and donors who support this work.”