Day 1: Arrival in Calhoun
Arrival and check in at Hiwassee Acres. It’s a peaceful, active getaway, located on 225 acres along the Hiwassee River with secluded hiking trails, a small petting zoo, kayaking, swimming, geocaching, and tranquil spots to relax or read along the river.
Lodging is in the Hiwassee Acres Nature Lodge, where you will stay in a brand-new studio apartment with a queen bed, full kitchen, bathroom with a beautiful tile shower, and wall-mounted flat screen TV.
There is no restaurant onsite or nearby, but the staff of Hiwassee Acres is happy to pick up groceries or prepared foods for you for dinner and breakfast (additional charge).
Overnight at Hiwassee Acres Nature Lodge
Day 2: Calhoun to Tellico Plains (34 miles or 39 miles with out and back to Savannah Oaks Winery and Delano Community Farm Market)
After breakfast, you enter the Hiwassee River Valley and make your way to historic Tellico Plains. If you’d like, extend your ride five miles and visit the Delano Community Farm Market, a Mennonite market where you can load up on fruit and baked goods, and Savannah Oaks Winery, nestled in the foothills surrounding Starr Mountain, on the picturesque Savannah Farms, whose 11,000 acres include the winery's thriving vineyards. Enjoy a tasting in an 1861 cantilever barn that was built by 40 men in one day!
If whiskey is more your cup of tea, a must-experience stop is the new Starr Mountain Distillery in historic Etowah. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet “Shine,” the chief distiller with an abundance of backwoods stories to tell. At very least, enjoy lunch at the Farmhouse Restaurant in Etowah.
Follow quiet back roads to the historic town of Tellico Junction, at the entrance to the Cherokee National Forest and in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.
Overnight at Tellico Farmhouse Inn, a 1920s farmhouse renovated with modern conveniences. Restaurants for dinner are within walking distance.
Day 3: Tellico Plains Along Tellico River Road and Back (24-44 miles round trip)
Note: Other loop routes are possible from Tellico Plains
Follow the Tellico River through a deep chasm on an asphalt forest service road deep into Cherokee National Forest. The first half is nearly entirely uphill, but it’s gradual--although it doesn’t feel so gradual on the sweeping downhill ride back. It’s an out and back, so you can turn around whenever you’d like. The full distance takes you almost to the North Carolina line. Whatever distance you ride, you’ll have the river as company the entire way as it tumbles down from the Smoky Mountains. An early highlight: Bald River Falls (12 miles) with an opportunity to hike. Turn around here, or continue to Green Cove Angler Store (7 miles) for snacks and a restroom break with an optional extension to the Tellico Trout Hatchery (1.5 miles) and further to the North Carolina State Line (3 miles). Return to Tellico Plains (22 miles from State Line)
Overnight at Tellico Farmhouse Inn
Day 4: Tellico Plains to Tsali Notch Vineyard to Tellico Plains (34 miles)
Note: Other loop routes are possible from Tellico Plains or choose to ride back to Hiwassee Acres.
Enjoy a leisurely back-country ramble to Tsali Notch Vineyard, a 202-acre muscadine grape vineyard. Named after an historic Cherokee leader, Tsali Notch vineyard specializes in muscadine grapes, grown on over 6,000 vines on 21 miles of trellises, covering 35 acres of a 202-acre estate. The property has an average elevation of 1,150 feet and is ringed by sweeping mountain views. The Vineyard tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon until 6 pm.
Overnight at Tellico Farmhouse Inn or Hiwassee Acres Nature Lodge
Day 5: Individual Departure (34 miles)
Ride to Hiwassee Acres. Extra night available at Hiwassee Acres or Tellico Farmhouse Inn for an additional charge.