In the world of mountain biking, the West Coast gets all the love. We’re not here to argue that, considering the history of the mountain bike has its roots firmly planted in either Marin County, California, or Crested Butte, Colorado (depending on who you ask). We’re also not here to argue that some of the best trails in the country (if not the world) call places like Moab, Park City, and Sun Valley home. Still, you shouldn’t sleep on the East Coast, and you especially shouldn’t sleep on the best mountain bike destinations in Georgia.
In fact, when the folks at Cannondale bikes gave us a chance to test out their latest premium trail bike, the Scalpel SE LTD Lefty, we could think of no better way to put the new all-carbon down county machine through its paces than a proper tour of all our favorite spots in the Peach State.
Whether you’re local to Georgia and are just beginning your journey into the world of mountain biking, or are a seasoned vet looking for the best spots to stop on a cross country biking trip, the mountain biking destinations below are not too be missed.
Pinhoti & Bear Creek Trail System
The best mountain biking in the state of Georgia is found within the Chattahoochee National Forest, a sprawling 750,000+ acre tract of some of the most epic views and challenging trails you’ll find anywhere on the East Coast.
The crown jewel of the Chattahoochee is widely considered to be Pinhoti and Bear Creek trail systems, which are typically combined into the infamous “Bearhoti” loop, a roughly 18-mile romp through some of the most varied and entertaining singletrack this side of the Mississippi.
While you’re in the area, don’t miss a chance to check out the Mulberry Gap mountain bike resort. This family-owned mecca for Georgia mountain bikers nestles right up against the Bearhoti loop and also connects riders to over 150 miles of trails in the surrounding 50-mile radius. Mulberry Gap also offers everything from shuttles to the trailheads (for folks who prefer to keep their climbs to a minimum) to food, beer, and even lodging for bikers who want to make a memorable weekend getaway out of their time in North Georgia.
There’s something for bikers of every discipline here from gravel to gravity, and should your legs need a break the nearby city of Ellijay has no shortage of things to do, from breweries to sweet rental cabins.
Jake Mountain & Bull Mountain Trails
Home to Georgia’s only IMBA EPIC-rated trail, the Jake Mountain and Bull Mountain trail networks are a must-ride mountain bike destination for serious enthusiasts.
Our last ride up at Jake Mountain included just about everything you can imagine from big singletrack descents to technical climbs, a few gravel stretches, and even a couple of creek crossings that we had to do a little barefoot bike-hiking to get across.
Although traffic is fairly light on these well-maintained trails, you should know that they’re all bi-directional and multi-use, so you may encounter a few bikers headed the opposite direction or even a horse or two (we passed two) along the way.
We also love this Georgia mountain bike destination because there’s plenty of parking on both the Jake Mountain and Bull Mountain trailheads, as well as a ton of opportunities for backpacking or car camping just a short hike away from either lot. Go early, ride all day, stay the night, then do it again.
One of the best parts about mountain biking in Georgia is that you don’t have to drive far outside of the city for great riding if you don’t want to. Blanket’s Creek is one of our favorite examples.
Blankets Creek is fairly compact, with only around 15 miles of trails inside the park, but the variety of terrain packed into the small area is what really makes Blankets great.
Inside you’ll find some excellent flow trails, downhill singletrack with eminently rippable berms, roller sections, and even a hot lap-friendly loop of one-way gravity features with an exciting jump line along the Quehl Holler trail. It’s pretty much the ideal local trail system for folks to get a lap or two in during the week after work, but the quality of the trails themselves (which are meticulously maintained) makes Blankets a worthwhile stop on any Georgia mountain bike tour.
Allatoona Creek Park
Located roughly 30 miles northwest of Atlanta, Allatoona Creek Park is another little mountain biking oasis hidden just off the beaten path in the city of Acworth.
We use the term “little” objectively here, as Allatoona’s impressive 1,450-acre footprint is no slouch, especially considering it’s wedged neatly between a large suburban area and a public dog park.
Inside the park, you’ll find over 35 miles of excellent singletrack trails, which are all one-directional but alternate every other day of the week to add some variety to your runs. Similar to Blankets Creek, Allatoona gets high marks for its wide variety of terrain and difficulty levels, as well as its fantastically well-maintained trails.
Once a year Allatoona hosts the popular “All-A-Toona” race, which ties in just about every aspect of the park from extended XC sections to jump lines. You don’t have to wait for the race to experience it though, and if you’re in the mood for a long day in the saddle just check out the 32-mile “All-A-Toona Loop” on your mountain bike trail app of choice.
We also love that there’s a small bike-park style section of the park which adrenaline junkies are sure to appreciate that includes everything from large tabletops to a wooden teeter-totter in the skills area just outside the parking lot.
5-Points Trail System
Located adjacent to Georgia’s popular Cloudland Canyon State Park, the 5-Points trail system is a network of roughly 20 miles of fast, low-difficulty singletrack trails with some challenging and technical sections sprinkled in if you know where to look.
The Cloudland Canyon Connector section is arguably the most popular route in 5-Points, and the 3.4-mile stretch running from the west into the Ascalon Road Trailhead is a particularly sweet route. Where you go from there is entirely up to you, but technically you can ride these trails all the way into Tennessee if you feel so inclined.
Again, this area is filled with multi-use trails, and you’re sure to pass a few hikers during busier periods. There are plenty of routes-less-traveled to explore, and no shortage of fantastic mountain views waiting at the top of every climb.
Honestly, all the Georgia mountain biking scene is missing is a proper bike park, but that won’t be the case for long.
That’s because Jarrod’s Place, located in the west Georgia mountains just outside of Rome, is scheduled to open to the public in the Spring of 2022. The park is still under construction but will include everything from fast flow trails to downhill runs and dirt jumps. Jarrod’s Place is also planning to offer proper shuttling service to the trailheads, which will make it Georgia’s first shuttle bike park upon opening. The park plans to be a membership-only destination though, so keep an eye on its progress via Facebook or Instagram for an opportunity to claim your spot.
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