Crossing over the KY/TN state line, USBR21 enters the city of Jellico. For touring cyclists that enjoy camping, Indian Mountain State Park is less than a mile from downtown and has 49 sites with water and electricity. There are stocked ponds for those that want to do some fishing. The rangers are super excited about cyclists visiting the park and one of the rangers shared a few stories from his adventures as a SAG for BRAT – Bike Ride Across Tennessee.
A must stop in Jellico is the Hardware Store/Museum downtown. Ronald Buck, “Buck” to the locals, turned out to be quite the character and an awesome story teller! Buck owns Buck’s Jellico Hardware and Jellico Family Museum on Main Street. A robust, storyteller if there ever was one, Buck shared facts, along with a few wild tales, of the history of the area — from the coal mines that sprang up in the late 1800’s to the railroad car packed with dynamite that exploded downtown in 1906. He reminisced on the changing of the town when the coal industry started to wane in the 1950’s, and the lumber industry started to boom. Buck gave us a tour of his Hardware Store and the adjoining Museum which was the vision of the four Buck brothers, “Junior”, “Porky”, “Buck” & “Bucky”. The best thing about bike touring are the folks you meet!
Other places you might want to checkout downtown are the Oldest Barber Shop and the US Post Office and Mine Rescue Station. There are several places to eat in town, but for those that prefer a vegetarian restaurant, we highly recommend — Sweet Pea Garden Pantry — the food was fabulous and the owner is super friendly!
Overview of route
Below are a several images taken along the way to Caryville. Old TN-63 runs alongside the creek and the railroad which makes for a fairly flat grade. A note of warning — there is logging in this area so cyclists may encounter logging trucks, however, we only saw a couple of trucks and very few cars. There are numerous single lane bridge crossings which helps keep their speeds slow.
Next city along the way with accommodations is Caryville. Here you’ll find hotels along the route or just 1/2 mile northeast of the main route there are campsites at Cove Lake State Park. As you leave Caryville, you leave those lovely flat grades and start winding up and over to cross Norris Dam and the Clinch River. Just prior to the dam is Norris Dam State Park on the north side of the route. Here you’ll find camp sites and cabins, including 19 historic rustic cabins that were originally constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After crossing the dam, be on the lookout for a few Points of Interest — the Caleb Crosby Threshing Barn which was originally built on the Holston River in the 1830s then relocated to its present site in 1978. It displays old farm tools, plows and a horse drawn wagon. Adjacent to the barn is the Rice Gristmill, originally constructed in 1798 in Union County, then dismantled and rebuilt on Clear Creek in 1935. Just up the main route is the Lenoir Museum which offers a diverse collection of many artifacts depicting life in Southern Appalachia from 12,000 years ago to present day.
The next major city is Norris, where you’ll find a grocery store and restaurant, but no overnight accommodations. Leaving Norris the route winds along wooded sections and open farmland. Keep an eye out for the tractor forest.
Next stop is Knoxville. The route brings you into the city through the Historic Fourth & Gill neighborhood built during the last quarter of the 19th Century. Many of the houses are Queen Anne and Craftsmen styled featuring large porches and complex rooflines. Among the architects for these homes were two of Knoxville’s most notable architects — George F. Barber and Joseph Bauman. Bauman designed several houses for his extended family, and Lovenia Street is named for one of his sisters.
Unique to Knoxville is the weekday live performance radio on the WDVX Blue Plate Special on stage in the Visitors Center from 12-1 pm. One block off Gay Street is Market Square – an open-air mall of eateries, shops, street performers, and a Farmer’s Market on Wednesday and Saturdays (in season).
Maps and cue sheet links:
Click here for a link to the full route and gpx track, including a map, cue sheet and elevation/grade.
We invite cyclists to ride the route, or sections of the route, and share suggestions and comments. Please direct comments and questions to Matt Farr, Executive Director of Bike Walk Tennessee at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also invite you to join the US Bike Routes 21/121 and 80 Facebook Group page.