Over Christmas, the 29erOnline test crew took a road trip to Blue Ridge, Georgia. North Georgia may not be the first place you’d think of of for great riding, but there are tons of trails in this area where the mountains of Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee all come together. 29erOnline rode for 2 days and really only scratched the surface.
Two hours north of Atlanta, Blue Ridge makes a excellent home base because the town is great – nice restaurants, fun shopping and even stuff for the kids to do like mine for gems or ride the train. It does not hurt that there is a good bike shop – Cycle South. Chat Sam up and he can give lots of ideas on places to ride.
Linda, at Blue Ridge Mountain Outfitters is also a good resource on the area (she rides as well) and it’s a nice place to pick up extra clothes. Mercier Orchards is a must visit for apples, baked goodies and a breakfast that kept us pedalling well into the afternoon.
A little northwest of Blue Ridge is the Ocoee Whitewater Center, which is where the whitewater events for the 1996 Olympics were held.
More importantly, it is home to a great bunch of trails – Tanasi. String together 30 miles and you have what is listed as an IMBA Epic Ride. The Chillhowee system is not far away as well. Start by the whitewater center, and, once you get out of the river valley, the climbing eases off and you can string together multiple loops. River View was our favorite – ride it clockwise and it opens up with a really nice downhill. Thunder Rock Express gets all the press because it is a rocky fast downhill. Dry and without leaves it is a hoot, damp and covered with leaves it felt a bit sketchy. Click here for some video of the descent.
We stayed in a great rental cabin just outside Blue Ridge rented by Escape to Blue Ridge. After a day in the saddle, a little luxury, great mountain views, and a hot tub are hard to beat!
Want to rough it a bit more or save some money? Mulberry Gap is a campground focused on serving mountain bikers. It is outside Ellijay (20 minutes from Blue Ridge) and another great option. In the past, they served hikers, but found mountain bikers are way more cool.Mulberry Gap is also a great place to park for the day while you ride – it’s a short ride up a dirt road and you are on the trails – 25 miles in the area. Ginni will cook up an awesome pot of chili for lunch and they have showers for when you come off the trail. This worked well for us – we had a safe place to park our vehicle, and someone to help us figure out which trail we wanted to tackle. They will also help out with a shuttle run to maximize your downhill grins.
We were dodging rain, but were able to ride Pinhoti 3 which is almost 9 miles of single track. Bring your climbing legs – it is up hill (2,000 feet of elevation gain) with switchbacks right from the start. The trails are fairly smooth and held up well to the recent rain. Take the trail to the top, then turn around and bomb back down. The Pinhoti is listed as an IMBA Epic ride.
Cartecay Bike Shop is in Ellijay, not far from Mulberry Gap. Mike is very nice and helpful for information on rides. He does an enormous amount of work maintaining the Pinhoti in that area, so stop by and say “thanks”. Ellijay is also home to the only Walmart in the area and a number of chain restaurants, including the essential after ride Starbucks.
The Pinhoti system (Pinhoti 3 is just one small part) is a trail that runs from its northern Georgia terminus near Blue Ridge all the way south to Alabama. It was conceived as a connector to the famous Appalachian hiking trail that runs from Main to Georgia. When we realized that it runs 163 miles in Georgia, we had to come back, this time with a plan – to ride as much of the Pinhoti’s single track as possible. Check back soon for much more info on the PInhoti and stories of our exploits.
Since we brought up IMBA Epic rides, the Tsali trails are 1 hour 40 minutes from Blue Ridge and the Bull Mountain Epic Ride is an hour away as well, in Dahlonega. So, come stay in north Georgia and check off 4 Epic Rides from your list