August 26, 2013
Could be a 5 star if only there was better trail markings or a better trail flow, and better views.
If you're not familiar with riding the north GA mountains make sure you OVER prepare. Bring twice the calories and water you think you'll need and bring a good detailed laminated or waterproof map. You will be referring to it often and if you did like me, printed it and stuff it in a jersey pocket, your map will soon tattered and torn like a 100 year old pirate map to buried treasure.
Obviously, bringing tools and repair supplies goes without saying. Take the time to familiarize yourself with both the trails you plan to ride and the nearby trails so if you end up somewhere you don't want to be at least you'll know where you are.
If you ask a local for directions, be warned that they will refer to trails with names that are not posted, and you will be referring to the posted trail references, like 233E, and they'll claim they've never seen those signs. In my experience, their help did more bad than good.
For those who don't know, there are numerous dirt/gravel FS (Forest Service) roads throughout the region and the singletrack trails run between them. Eventually the trail you're riding will intersect with a FS road and it will likely NOT pickup directly across the road. In most cases you will need to go up or down the road for a bit to find the next trail or pick-up the trail you were just on.
Now, on to the surface review. The trails are excellent. They flow well, are diverse and challenging. There are a few stream crossing, one was over 2 feet deep and the others were easily ridable. The climb up Bull mtn going CCW is the most difficult by far. It starts with a brief but steep climb that feels like a punch in the face if you haven't had any warm-up. After that it settle down a bit and gives you a pretty steady diet of 150 ft up and 150 feet down before reaching the main climb at about 9 miles in. This climb continues almost non-stop for about 3 miles before a fast and furious 6 mile descent that will last for about 45 minutes. It's actually a 3 long descents broken up with 2 sections that are are fairly flat and last for 10 minutes each.
If you continue on to Jake mtn the climbs are only half of Bull mtn and the trails are most less technical. There is a lot of new trail on Jake as well. Again, navigating these trails is chore. My riding partner and I were constantly stopping and referring to our maps trying to figure out where we were.
We set out to ride 28.5 miles and ended up doing 35 with all the wrong turns and searching for trails. While this was my first trip to ride North GA single track, I had been to the area a few times previously just to ride the FS roads in preparation for the Southern Cross 50 miler. This is not a region to take lightly.
Pinhoti (Snake Creek Gap)