Last update 03/12/2000
This is a brief guide to off-road bicycle trails in North Ga. Some of the older maps have been removed and a few updates have been made from a previous version. Use at your own risk. I'll be making many changes to this site as I find time but for now, this will have to do.
Important! Some of the maps and other information here is still preliminary and subject to change without notice!
The following information is just an overview to some of the off-road riding areas available in North Georgia. There are a number of additional sources for more specific information including published trail guides:
Other sources include US Forest Service maps, USGS topographic maps, and Ga. Dept. of Natural Resources Wildlife Management Area maps. Also, many local bike shops keep trail maps and guides available for there customers.
There are a few 'legal' trails located in the vicinity of Atlanta and surrounding suburbs:
- Olympic race course, Ga. International Horse Park. Latest word is that you can still ride there but the City of Conyers has the property up for sale. It seems they don't have much interest in preserving the trails for recreational use. Too bad.
- Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA), Sope Creek unit. This area is managed by the US National Park Service (USNPS) who really have tolerated a lot to try to accommodate cyclist. SORBA has worked hard to keep the relationship going. Currently, this involves organizing a bike patrol, and regular trail maintenance. Please obey rules and regs and don't blow it for those who ride there. Accessed from Paper Mill Rd. parking lot which is off of Johnson Ferry rd. Ride and parking Permits required, contact CRNRA park office.
- Blankets Creek. Currently under construction by SORBA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Scheduled to open for National Trails day on June 3, 2000!
Map on USGS quad. (290kb)
- Chicopee Woods, Gainesville (about 1 hr from Atlanta). With the addition of the new ZigZag trail, there are now over 15 miles of some really great singletrack thanks to the Gainesville chapter of SORBA, and especially to the City of Gainesville. Parking is on Elachee Drive at the parking lot under the power lines. Traveling north on I-85, take I-985 to exit 4, turn left (west), and then turn right (north) past McDonalds. Take a left at end of this road, and follow the signs to the Elachee Nature Center. Park under the power lines in the parking lot. Do not park along road and do not go over the bridge. Riding the outer and inner loops from Elachee Dr. will be 8.5 miles, and the loop south of Elachee Drive adds about 2 miles . The Trails are usually closed for 24-48 hours after any significant rainfall. If the parking lot is closed, then the trails are closed!! Call (770)565-1795 for up-to-date information.
Map available as a Adobe PDF file (46k) **This is an older version. A newer map is available hardcopy.
- Yellow River Park, Gwinnett County. Located in the southern corner of Gwinnett off Annistown Rd and along the Yellow River (see map), these trails are perhaps some of the most heavily visited in the area. Originally set aside for a sewage treatment facility, Yellow River Park was adopted by mountain bikers after environmental regulations and restrictions on cross-basin transfer of water led to the abandonment of the original plans. The property was later turned over to Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation who continues to manage the park for 'passive' recreation including horseback riding, cross-country running and hiking, and of course mountain biking. SORBA became more actively involved when the county requested volunteer assistance to help maintain the trails and educate riders. These efforts involve regular trail maintenance, setting up a Mountain Bike Patrol, and providing a liaison between the county and the mountain bike community.
Directions: From Atlanta, take Hwy. 78 (Stone Mtn. Freeway) past Stone Mtn. and look for West Park Place. Take this exit, turn right on West Park Place, and follow this. It eventually becomes Rockbridge Rd. and then Annistown Rd. (see map). Take a right on Juhan Rd. and look for the parking lot on the left.
Preliminary maps can be found here These maps are incomplete and subject to revision!:
The Pigeon Mtn. Wildlife Management area is located just west of Lafayette Ga. and offers some of the best and most technical riding in the south. There are miles of single track along with gravel roads and jeep trails. Most of the trails were originally established for horseback riding, but are now open to bikes. The area manager is very pro-bike and has worked to increase this areas accessibility. This area is also very popular for caving, having some of the longest and deepest caves in the eastern US.
Located northwest of Ellajay Ga and adjacent to the Cohutta Wilderness area, this location has several trails that have been a adopted by SORBA. Some of these have been featured in various Bike rags over the last few years, most recently the Mountaintown Creek trail in the May 1996 issue of Mountain Bike. The currently available trails include:
- Windy Gap Cycle trail. Start at the trailhead located near lake Conasauga, and proceed downhill! Or, make it a long loop by riding the connecting forest service roads.
- Bear Creek Trail. Starting at the Barnes Cr. campground, this trail has a couple of options, with either a single track loop, or a spur that exits onto a forest service road which can then be taken back down to the start, or continue north to the Mountaintown Creek trail.
- Mountaintown Creek Trail. Off of FS road 64 adjacent to the wilderness area, it proceeds downhill along the creek and exits just east of the Barnes Cr. Campground. Combined with the Bear Creek trail, one can make a challenging loop of about 25 miles.
- Rich Mtn Trail. Located north of Ellajay, this trail was the first in the area adopted by SORBA, and perhaps one of the most difficult. It begins at Stanley gap near Cherry Log off Hwy. 76 and proceeds North until it reaches Lake Blue-Ridge. From there, one can double back, or ride a mixture of paved and unpaved roads back to the start.
An overview map of the Cohutta area is available as a .jpg image (265kb)
Because of the proximity and easy access from Atlanta, the trails in this vicinity are perhaps the most popular in North Ga. They are also some of the most enjoyable, with options for every level rider.
- Amicolola Falls / Frosty Mtn. Loop. Beginning at the top of the falls in the State Park (don't forget to pay for parking!), this is a loop trail that follows old jeep trails and dirt roads, eventually with a nice 4 mile climb up to Nimblewill gap and beyond.
Map available as a .GIF image (38k)
- Bull Mtn / Jake Mtn. area trails. . Some of the best, if not THE best off-road cycling trails in Ga. can be found in the Nimblewill/Bull Mtn. area of the Chattahoochee National Forest, former site of the annual Nimblewill Fat-tire Festival. This area is located between Amicolola Falls St. Park and Dahlonega Ga. off Ga. Hwy. 52. Coming from Dahlonega, Look for Nimblewill Church Rd. on your right. Parking for the Bull Mtn trailhead is available in the new horse and bike parking lot located just off FS28 on FS83 north of Nimblewill Church. Parking for Jake Mtn. trailhead is just off Nimblewill Church Rd. DO NOT PARK IN CHURCH PARKING LOT!!
Combined with Forest Service roads, these trails provide numerous options for every level rider! The Bull Mtn. trail was one of the first in the area adopted by SORBA. Since then, SORBA has added the Turner Creek Trail, the No-Tell Trail, and the Bear-Hare Trail. And more recently the Jake Mtn. system has opened including the Jones Creek Ridge, Moss Creek, Black Branch, and Jake Mtn. trails. All of these are the result of some long hard work by SORBA and the Georgia Trail Riders Assn. equestrian club, along with the excellent cooperation (and more hard work!) of the U.S. Forest Service.
Helen / Unicoi State Park trail. Originally built for the NORBA National mountain bike race, this trail is open to the public. There is a $2.00 fee for access. Check in at the Helen visitors center, or at Unicoi state park. The course is mostly 'wide' singletrack of moderate difficulty, with a few technical sections.
Upper Chattahoochee. Jeep trails and gravel roads make up the this area located near Helen Ga. Even though there is no real single track, the distances and elevation change still make this challenging, as well as one of the most scenic rides in North Ga. It also has one of the wildest downhill runs anywhere in the state (44E)! And the loop around Jasus Cr. (44B) is certainly worth the climb and extra mileage
TO GET THERE: From Helen, take 75 N to 75 alt, and turn left, crossing the Chattahoochee river. Take the first right on the road (FS44) that parallels the river. Park near where FS44E crosses the river, or continue on to the game check station..
**Map available as a .GIF image
Published Maps: Chattahoochee Natl. Forest map, US Forest Service.
USGS 1:24000 quads: Cowrock, Jacks Gap
One of the states largest Wildlife Management Areas (WMA's), Lake Russell WMA (not to be confused with the reservoir of the same name on the Savannah R.) has a maze of gravel roads, logging roads, and singletrack (mostly horse) trails enough to keep a mountain biker happy for days. While not having the dramatic elevation changes of the mountains further north, the undulating terrain is still quite rugged and challenging. Anyone not familiar with this area is advised to have a good map and navigation skills, as all roads and trails are not marked, nor are they on most available maps! Some parts of this area have been extensively logged, so many new roads have been cut recently, while others that were once open to traffic, are now gated. Be aware that this area is quite popular for equestrians, so remember to be courteous. And, as with all state WMA's, avoid this area during managed deer hunts!
In October 2003, phase I of the combination bike/horse trail project was completed, with the opening of the Frady Branch trail head. The combined 3 loops provide for over 12 miles of mostly singletrack. A number of historical sites along the route have been marked, and included on the map for everyones enjoyment!
TO GET THERE:
From Atlanta: Take I-85 north past Commerce to exit 154, Ga. Hwy 63 (Martin Bridge Road). Turn left (north) until it becomes Hwy 184 and follow towards Toccoa. Turn right at ‘T’ intersection and stay on 184. About six miles from the intersection with Hwy 105 and just past mile-marker 3, look for the trailhead on FS-389 to the left.
From Gainesville: I-985/GA 365 northeast from Gainesville. At approx. mile marker 52 take exit to right (still GA 365) towards Toccoa. After approximately 5 miles turn right at first stoplight. Go 1/4 mile and turn left on GA 184. Go 3.5 miles to Frady Branch Road on right and trailhead parking area.
Map available as a PDF file (2.3mb)
Published Maps: Chattahoochee Natl. Forest map, US Forest Service.
USGS 1:24000 quads: Lake Russell, Ayersville
** Disclaimer : The author assumes no responsibility or liability for any mistakes that may be contained herein, or for any problems that anyone may have with this information.