Location: North Georgia
Distance: 23 miles
Driver: Lisa Randall
Race Director and Owner, Mountain Goat Adventures; Sub 48-Hour Finisher, Trans North Georgia Adventure
“I love Georgia. There’s just such a great variety of riding up in the northern part of the state, from beginning to advanced. You can pick and choose what type of terrain you want—there are super technical trails, flow trails, big climbs, and I’m one of those sick people whose idea of a good time is a five-mile climb up a Forest Service road. So there’s that if you want it and big descents. Everybody likes a good downhill. And last but not least, we don’t have a lot of crowds and it’s usually a few degrees cooler.”
Day 1 | 8.8 miles | Woodstock — Lake Allatoona
An underrated suburb in the Atlanta metropolitan area, Woodstock has all of the vibrancy of a big city in the unassuming setting of a mid-sized town. Woodstock’s recreation access has blossomed in recent years—the trails at Blankets Creek likely have the most renown, made popular by the annual Blankets Creek Trials. There are roughly 15 miles of trails at the park, with a combination of machine-built butter and hand-cut technical trails that are true to north Georgia’s terrain. Try Van Michael Trail for berms and jumps, Dwelling Trail for flow, or South Loop Trail for rock gardens and switchback-laden climbs. If you still have juice in your legs afterwards, check out Taylor Randahl Memorial Bike Trails at Olde Rope Mill Park, which has another 15 miles of rolling singletrack, including a popular five-mile stretch of big berms and even bigger jumps called The Mill.
Get your taco fix at Pure Taqueria, which, according to Randall, has the best Texas Margarita in town (not to mention authentic tacos made with fresh ingredients). If chain hotels (of which, there are plenty) aren’t your style, head up the road to Victoria Campground. Perched on the banks of Allatoona Lake, campers here have access to 270 miles of shoreline starting at $28 per night.
Day 2 | 123 miles | Woodstock — Rising Fawn
Hit up the Maple Street Biscuit Company (open at 7 a.m.) on your way out of Woodstock. It’s about a two-hour drive to your next trail destination for the trip, Five Points Trails. Once a Durham coal mine during the late 1800s and early 1900s, this revegetated site is now home to some 25 miles of purpose-built singletrack, the result of a collaborative effort with The Lula Lake Land Trust, SORBA Chattanooga (you’re only 20 minutes from downtown Chattanooga here), and Cloudland Canyon State Park. There are a few rock gardens sprinkled throughout the trail system, but most of it is fast, fun, and relatively easy on the climbing. Despite its name, the Kindergarten Trail is actually one of the more challenging trails with plenty of rock gardens to keep advanced riders on their toes. For a family-friendly trail, check out the Cloudland Canyon Connector Trail, which has about 600 feet of climbing over the course of five miles but is wide and well-graded.
Give yourself enough time to sit down for a meal at Geneva’s Restaurant on Highway 136. The little meat-and-three diner closes at 3 p.m. and serves up hearty southern classics like meatloaf and fried chicken. They also serve breakfast, so if you catch ‘em in the morning, please get the tadpoles ‘n’ eggs and tell us about it. Walk off your heavy lunch at Cloudland Canyon State Park. The Overlook Trail is a stunning albeit popular trail that takes you to the best view of the canyon. Primitive campsites at the park run about $20 per night, so claim your spot and rest up for your third and final day.
Day 3 | 80.3 miles | Rising Fawn — Ellijay
Set the alarm early for the nearly two-hour trek east to the Mountain Bike Capital of Georgia, aka Ellijay. This little town of 2,000 has over 50 miles of trails, including the Pinhoti Trail and the backcountry goodness located in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Stop in at Cartecay Bikes for all of your tune-up and beta needs, then head deep into the forest to your mountain bike basecamp, Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Get-A-Way.
Family owned and operated, this northwestern Georgia gem will instantly feel like a home away from home. Whether it’s the stout Belgian waffles resident mom and cook Ginni whips up for breakfast, the cozy cabins (starting at $92 per night), or the quirky bike-friendly vibe, Mulberry Gap is the reason north Georgia has such a highly regarded reputation within the cycling industry.
If you’re cruisin’ solo, it won’t be hard to find a riding buddy at breakfast. Organize a shuttle or earn your turns with the 22-mile Bear-Hoti Loop. This ride is stout (if Randall likes it, you know there’s at least a four-mile gravel road climb in there somewhere), but it connects some of the most classic singletrack in the area, including Bear Creek Trail and Pinhoti 1 and 2. On your way down Bear Creek, stop and hug the mammoth Gannett poplar for us.