Bike Trails in Memphis & Surrounding Area
For those who enjoy riding a bike, the Memphis area is slowly becoming one of the best places around to do it and the future is looking even brighter for the city in the years ahead with bike lanes and trails either being added, extended, or connected to existing ones. It is really quite a turnaround for a city that did not have much to offer when it came to cycling with few trails and virtually no bike lanes on any of its streets. Over the last couple of years, however, Memphians have seen an amazing proliferation of places where cyclists can go to ride their bikes and they will undoubtedly continue to see a whole lot more in the future.
In & around Memphis, there are plenty of places for cyclists to go out for a ride with dozens of parks and recreational areas to venture out in. Although there are plenty to choose from, some of the best places include the following:
- Shelby Farms
- Shelby Farms Greenline
- Wolf River Greenway
- Overton Park
- Stanky Creek
- Herb Parsons Lake
- Meema-Shelby Forest Park
Bike Tours in Memphis
Googling “bike tours of Memphis” will get you the usual suspects: Midnight Classic Bicycle Tour, Tour de Grizz, Tour de Bird; but these are not really tours as much as just organized rides. (The “Tour de” is a nod to “Tour de France” and is as ubiquitous as a pun-based bike shop name.) So I had to dig a little deeper. We’re talking 10 pages deep. In my search I found some tours that I can’t wait to try for myself:
1. Architecture Tours from AIA Memphis – AIA currently offers maps for four self-guided tours of unique and historical architecture in Memphis. The tours are grouped around neighborhoods which keeps the riding distance to a minimum. Local architects will also lead tours throughout the year. Click the link above to get on the e-mail list for the next event.
2. Tour de Coop – Another self-guided tour, this one of chicken coops, beehives, and gardens throughout the city. There’s a new group of coops every year; you get a map and you can walk, bike, or drive to see them all, talk to the owners and get ideas on how to build your own. Donations support the work of Grow Memphis.
3. Memphis Today & Tomorrow: By Bike – Local Planner Nick will lead you around the city and talk about “where Memphis is now and its exciting trajectory into the future.” Reservations can be made for $65/person which includes bike rental and a drink. I know Nick in a professional capacity and can say that the knowledge that he will drop on this tour will be well worth the price, but I’m more interested in the other bicycle tour that he offers:
4. Barbecue Bike Tour – This is a perfect combination and an almost necessary one. I mean, you can drive to 3 or 4 bbq joints but it would be much better to burn calories while you’re deciding between dry rub or wet rub, chicken, beef, pork, or portabella. This one also includes bike rental and a “predetermined sampling of specialties at 3 – 4 barbecue restaurants” for $95/person.
5. One Lap of Memphis – This is the tour you should do the day AFTER the Barbecue Bike tour. Affectionately called “Ironbutt 100”, this mountain bike tour covers almost 100 miles and captures all of the trails around Memphis, linking them together in a ride that’s “not a competition, it’s merely an exhibition of stupidity.” Several friends have completed this task and I can honestly say I don’t envy them. The $68 entry fee gets you food, a t-shirt, and a donation to 88bikes.
My search also turned up the Memphis Public Art Tour from the Urban Art Commission. While this self-guided tour is not specifically designed for bicycles, the locations of the art are all downtown where the bicycle is an exceptional mode of travel.
So what about that brewpub tour, because really, everyone likes beer. Here’s a link to a map. Note that these are the breweries that have taprooms. There’s a rumor circulating that Ghost River will have a taproom soon, and when that happens I’ll update the map.
Bike Resources Around Memphis
Here’s a link to the City of Memphis Bicycle Routes.
For interactive bicycle facility maps, here’s a link to Bike/Ped Memphis.
Aside from the trails, cyclists also have the option to ride on the streets and roads, but it is usually best to avoid those that have a high traffic volume, and are heavily congested, whenever possible. If interested in doing that, here is a link to a map with some bicycle-friendly routes within Memphis.
Cyclists should always exercise more caution when riding on city streets & roads and should always follow the rules of the road & use hand signals at the intersections to indicate what direction that they will be going in. The local area bike clubs, along with several bicycle shops, also offer group bike rides throughout Memphis & outlying areas for those who enjoy or prefer riding with others.
Only places that are within a radius of about 30
miles, (or are approximately a 45-minute drive from Memphis), were included on this page, but there are countless other places that cyclists can go if they are willing to travel even further than this. Here are a couple of links for trails throughout the State of Tennessee & beyond:
- Great Outdoor Recreation Pages,
- National Parks (like the Great Smoky Mountains),
- http://www.traillink.com/ provides maps, nearby routes, bike shops, parking, some food, restroom stops, etc
You can also review & plan your own route by going to Google maps. You can also go to Google maps. Once you’re there, you should select directions &, after that, you will want to choose the cyclist icon, which is the second one on the far right-hand side. From there you can zoom in & view all of the area bicycles routes in green. In addition to that, you can also use the Mid-South Regional Greenprint to create your route by selecting the corridor that you wish to go in and you can see what facilities will be available to you.