My Top Five: The Best Mountain Bike Trails in the CSRA

I’m proud to call the the Central Savannah River Area, or CSRA, my home. The CSRA is the the area surrounding Augusta, GA and North Augusta, SC and it’s home to some of the best, least-expected mountain biking in the southeast. I say least expected because we don’t have any mountains here. We’ve got hills, but no mountains. But boy oh boy do we have trails, about 150 miles of them actually, with more in the works. We have many of these trails because of the local MTB club, SORBA-CSRA. SORBA-CSRA has done such a good job in this area that in 2010 IMBA held their biannual World Summit here. So if you’re looking for a place to take a spring MTB trip, give the CSRA a look. In this blog post you’ll find my five favorite trails in the area, in no particular order.

FATS: Forks Area Trail System (SC)

FATS, located in the Sumter National Forest in SouthCarolina,is the crown jewel of the CSRA mountain bike scene, and the only IMBA Epic in South Carolina. It’s 37 miles of fast, swoopy, roller coaster like purpose built mountain bike trails. There are six individual loops, each with a slightly different feel and the trails will satisfyboth beginners and experienced riders alike. There is very little technical terrain at FATS so anyone can ride here and likely clean every inch of trail. What makes this trail fun is the speed – it’s easy to get, and easy to keep. But you do have to be careful with all that speed: there’s a bunch whoop-de-doos that will throw you over the handlebars if you’re not careful.


Riders cruising through some whoop-de-doos on the Deep Step loop at FATS

Mistletoe State Park (GA)

Mistletoe is the anti-FATS. It’s the most technical trail in the CSRA. The trail was not built for mountain biking, even though bikes are allowed now. There are lots of creek crossings – some are easy, some are not. There’s some rocks, and some steep climbs. The trails can be a little confusing your first time out so I suggest looking for a local to show you around. The Rock Dam and Cliatt Creek Nature Trail are the most popular rides, and most locals link them together to form a loop around 6.5 miles long, with a lot of climbing for this area. Mistletoe is the western most portion of the big Thurmond Epic route.


One of the deeper creek crossings at Mistletoe State Park

Modoc (aka Stevens Creek)(SC)

Modoc is another technical trail, for the CSRA at least. Located in Sumter National Forest, the Modoc trail roughly follows Steven’s Creek and has some nice scenic views. Several ditch and creek crossings keep you on your toes on this 6-mile out and back trail. Between the technical bits Modoc is pretty fast and smooth. There is plenty of really nice bench cut singletrack that has been in place for decades and it’s a lot of fun to ride. Locals link Modoc to the Turkey and Wine Creek trails for longer routes.


Only 1/4 mile from the parking lot is one of Modoc’s most memorable creek crossings. Photo: brianW

Bartram (GA)

The Bartram trail is one of the least technical trails in the area, but it’s also one of the longest. The trail is an out and back stretching from the West Dam Recreational Area west all the way to Washington Road, and it’s 22.5 miles one way! The trail runs right through the Petersburg Campground, making Petersburg a great place to stay if you’re planning a visit to theCSRA to ride.

East of Petersburg is known as “old Bartram” to the locals and it is the least challenging side. It is very flat, smooth, and very fast if you want it to be; a great place to take the kids riding. West of Petersburg, or “new Bartram” is a little tougher, with some climbing, whoop-de-doos, and a few technical challenges. The entire trail hugs the shores of Lake Thurmond and has lots of nice views. Bartram is the biggest chunk of the Thurmond Epic route.


There’s something special about lakeside singletrack. Photo: brianW

Canal Trail (GA)

This is probably going to a controversial pick as a Top Five trail but hey, it’s my list and I love the canal trail! It’s a very short 2.8 mile loop inside the city limits of Augusta. This is the only trail in the area that’s within easy riding distance from a large population area. It sits on a small piece ofland between the Savannah River and the Augusta Canal. To make the best use of the land the trail is very tight and twisty, making it a great place to work on your cornering skills. There aren’t any big climbs, but there are a few short steep rooty grunts that can test your skills.It’s a little trail, but it is big on fun!


That’s me, playing hookie from work and enjoying the canal trail on a sunny Friday afternoon in the spring. Don’t tell my boss.

Related posts:

  1. Trails 20 & 21: RAMBO Mountain Bike Trails
  2. Top 10 mountain bike trails
  3. New mountain bike trails in Cleveland
  4. The Most Dangerous Mountain Bike Trails in the World
  5. My Top Five: Best Mountain Bike Trails in Denver

8 thoughts on “My Top Five: The Best Mountain Bike Trails in the CSRA

  1. Love riding in the CSRA – hats off to the local SORBA chapter for creating such a legacy.

    Modoc is the first real MTB trail I ever rode (by real I mean an official trail I had to drive to). It’s also the trail where, years later, mudhunny and I came up with the idea to create a mountain biking website in 1997.

    I’m a big fan of the Canal trail too – it’s fast, flowy, and super accessible from downtown and the canal towpath. Before I could drive I would ride the 10 miles or so on the towpath from the lock & dam to downtown with my friends to eat lunch at the Cotton Patch. I don’t think the singletrack was there at the time but we used to mess around on the ATV trails in the same general area. Good memories.

  2. Great picks, dgaddis. I have yet to ride the canal trail and Mistletoe… those have been on my hit list for a while. As for your comments on the Canal trail, there’s definitely something to be said for accessibility. Plus, if you can ride your bike there instead of driving, the experience is just that much more rewarding!

    @trek7k, Singletracks.com was conceived on the Modoc Trail… how cool is that? I can say I’ve been there, too! ;)

  3. Modoc whoops me everytime I go.

    Love the Pumping station trail (thats what Ive always called it). Cant wait for the canal crown coming up. :woot:

  4. When I moved here in 1991, we didn’t have 5 trails to ride. Now we can make a top five list and leave good rides off the list.

    I’d have to include the Long Cane Horse Trail on the list. It is a bit of a reach for it to be in the “CSRA”, but it is on the Long Cane District which is where we ride. LCHT is perhaps the best trail we have and is no doubt our best kept secret.

    Canal. Not my favorite. If I lived where I could ride to it, I would and I’d love it. It is not in my top 5 of trails in the CSRA.

    My list, in order.
    1. Plum Branch. Off the radar. Some of it on private property. We don’t talk about it on our local forum. Local Saddle Club holds the key to it and has given us the ok to ride it. Can’t ride it during any hunting season. It is our local Pisgah….hardest trail around he by a longshot. Next to impossible to get any intel on this trail on the net. You’d prolly get lost riding it anyway. But I am local, know it, and this isn’t a local forum, so I am going to list it.
    2. LCHT. Mix of old school and flow trail.
    3. Modoc/Turkey/Wine. These trails were proposed in 1965 as one long trail. Today we see them as 3 trails. Since we ride them together alot, I put them as one trail in my top 5.
    4. Hickory Knob State Park. Handbuilt for 7 miles and 4 miles of machine built. Nice stuff. Fun to ride. Great lake views.
    5. FATS. Can’t leave our IMBA Epic off. Even though I helped design and build FATS, I have grown tired of it.

    Mistletoe and Keg Creek…..make a great ride we call The Christmas Party Ride. I’m not sure I’d put HKSP in there over these two, but did. Oh well.

    No Bartram on my list. Hard to believe we have so many trails now that I can leave this off a top list.

  5. Pingback: Singletracks Goes Racing at the Baker’s Dozen this Weekend! | Mountain Bike Blog || SINGLETRACKS.COM

Leave a Reply