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Level: Intermediate
Length: 10 mi (16.1 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Loop
Elevation: +1,778/ -2,002 ft
Total: 539 riders

Mountain Biking Bear Creek

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#3 of 397 mountain bike trails in Georgia
#31 in the world

Blue Ridge Mountain singletrack at its finest. This out-n-back trail weaves its way upwards through shaded valleys and semi-steep hills. The trail is an equal mix of narrow singletrack and old fireroad doubletrack. The climb to the overlook is rewarded with a wicked downhill spin that brings you back to your starting point. The lower points of this trail are nearly always a little bit damp and tacky, but the trail is rideable nearly year-round because it drains so well into Bear Creek. There are several creek crossings and switchbacks to make things fun. Stop and take a picture at the Gannet Poplar, a very old and massive tree along the trail. Numerous trailheads are in the area, but the preferred route is to park on Gates Chapel Rd and ride up FS 90 to the small parking area where the singletrack starts.

From the parking area, ride up the gravel road, bearing left at the sign for the Bear Creek trail approx. 1 1/2 miles to the trailhead (there is a small parking area at the trailhead, but we always ride the gravel road as a warm-up). There are two trails here, but take the one beside the information kiosk. The other way is not meant for humans. After crossing a small, rocky creek, stay left at the sign for the Bear Creek Loop trail. After climbing two short whoops right beside the creek, follow the hard left switchback uphill (do NOT cross the logs and continue straight). Continue up the singletrack to the forest service gate. At the grassy clearing, continue to the LEFT, uphill on the doubletrack. After crossing through a wide but shallow creek, go left downhill to the gate and onto the gravel road. Turn right on the gravel road and continue up approx. 1/2 mile to the overlook. Enjoy the view! Continue to ride up the gravel road another couple hundred yards to the sign for the upper parking lot. Turn into the lot and follow the singletrack trail downhill. There are several hard switchbacks and the trail will dump you out back at the wide shallow creek. Continue the ride back downhill the same way you climbed up!

First added by Rebus on Jan 1, 2003. Last updated May 3, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
"From Atlanta take I-75 N to I-575 N toward Ellijay. I-575 turns GA 5 (US 76) and leads to E. Ellijay. Turn left at the second light in E. Ellijay (past the Ingles and McDonald's) and cross the railroad tracks. Turn left onto GA 52 West. Around mile marker 8, turn right onto Gates Chapel Rd. After 5.4 miles, turn right onto FS 90. Go 1.7 miles and turn right on FS 68. Two miles to trailhead parking area (on the right).
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Bear Creek Trail map

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Local Info

Trail checkins

ejvelazquez (on Mar 5, 2022)
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Trail conditions

Good (on Mar 29, 2021)
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Bear Creek videos

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Bear Creek (GA) mountain biking
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Ellijay, Georgia

Intermediate | 5 mi
Beginner | 3 mi
Advanced | 5 mi

Rider questions

Q: Any recommendations on cabins to rent close to Bear Creek Trail? Must be pet-friendly and have Internet (working vacation).
A: Mulberry Gap

Q: where is the real located
A: Cohutta Lodge

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  • gokupe

    The Bear creek loop is a extremely beautiful scenery , with creeks you need to cross (and get wet)
    It is essentially a loop around a creek going down the mountain, so half the loop you are going downhill and half the loop you are climbing / uphill
    The downhill (I did counterclockwise) is super fun , with creeks and good speed , i would call it "intermediate" in terms of technical difficulty and easy in terms of "strength"
    The uphill is super hard, i am not super athletic and a little heavy so it was miserable, i had to walk the bike 70% of the time due to the deep climbing angle , i would call it "intermediate" in terms of technical difficulty and extremely hard in terms of "strength"

    i would never do it again as i did, but i know there are some shuttle services that can help you with the climbing (check the mulberry gap lodge), with that help (or an electric bike) i would love to do it again

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  • bean909

    I rode this trail because its listed as a top 100 bike trail on the planet, So i guess my expectations were high. I think one issue is that trails should be rated by style. For me this was an average ride. The whole trail is based one big climb with one big decent. For me its not my style. I like fun up and down flow, challenge, bowls, turns etc.... The starting point is misleading as well, there are two signs in the parking lot, one says Bear Creek Loop where I started for about 20 minutes and realized this was impossible and not going to work. The other sign says Pinhote ( forgive spelling) trail, which is what you want to take, big mistake if you do not. Parking is lack there of, and the 1.5 mile to the top as everyone calls warm up is a bit defeating. Im from florida, so climbing is not my thing, yet I can ride over 20 miles in the woods no problem, so as this trail is not difficult technically make sure your fitness level is prepared to climb climb climb. The downhill rating is 5 star, but since trails are rated on the overall experience I can not see how you can give this 5 stars as compared the massive amount of trail system here in GA and everywhere. Overall experience 3 Stars for me.

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  • BillBB   ✓ supporter

    Spots are muddy and being rutted(?)by inexperienced operators of vehicles

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  • Greg Buhrow

    Had a tough time finding this up the Forest Service Road but it worked out as I started at a junction that could have been a double black diamond for about 0.5 miles then dumps into Bear Creek. Once on Bear Creek it was a lot of fun downhill with some rocks and roots. Definitely an Intermediate with the rocks and creek crossings. I did this trail on vacation from TX so get one of the locals (Cartecay Bike Shop in Ellijay) to explain how the trails run. It seems that you take FSRs up to the trails then ride them down but since I am not a local I could be wrong. Don't want to waste all your energy getting TO the trail because there are enough features so that you don't want to be too tired from a big climb to enjoy them.

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  • Derek Shepard   ✓ supporter

    I've started visiting the N. GA mountains from FL the past year to hike and bike and I will ride Bear Creek every time I visit. Bear Creek or Bull/Jake mountain is the first trail I ride to get my legs ready for more challenging trails. Like many, I park on the street and pedal in. It's a little over 1 mile to the trailhead on gravel road. Watch for cars as this can be a busy spot on weekends and there's not much clearance if 2 Chevy Tahoes are passing each other. I prefer to start my ride at the trailhead sign not the multi use trail spot that takes you right into the river. Heads up...you will get wet on this trail. There are multiple stream crossings. This route has a gradual climb as you pass the Gennett Popular tree and make your way to the top. There are a few spots I get off to rest but overall the trail is manageable. When I rode last, there were 2 down trees on the way up, so be mindful if you decide to descend. I follow the Spur trail to gravel road to the overlook and then head back down until I reach the Bear Creek Loop connector that I passed on the ride up. There is a spot on the loop trail about mile 5 that either doesn't have good trail signage or I missed it. As you enter an open area, the loop trail heads to the right. Don't go straight. Follow that narrow singletrack down over some rocks and roots and keep your speed up. It's a great descent. But once down, you will need to cross Bear Creek once again to get to the trailhead and begin your ride out the gravel road.

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  • Asher Holland

    My brother and I rode Bear Creek Loop yesterday. This was both our first time riding in North Georgia. I chose this trail because it is near (1.75 hrs away) Helen, Ga, where I am staying for the week. We also plan to ride trails at Bull Mountain and trails in Gainesville in the way back south...

    When trying to locate the trail, PLEASE IGNORE the location shared on the trail profile and simply search "Bear Creek Trailhead" in Google maps. This will take you to the trailhead. Some park along the "main" road and ride the gravel road for a warmup while others drive the last 1.5 miles to the true trailhead. Once you arrive you'll notice there are 2 ways you can begin your ride. I recommend taking the Bear Creek Loop entrance in the lower section of the parking lot, furthest away from the trail signage. This path is characterized by an immediate river crossing followed by a steep climb/hike for approximately 1 mile. There are portions where you can ride but it is predominately a steep uphill trek (rooty, leafy, and wet in some segments).

    After mile 1-1.5 you will find yourself on a wide gravel/dirt access road covered with leaves and foliage (I visited in December). Ride this to mile 4-4.5. This access road is also a solid workout but much more manageable than the initial climb. There are also downhill portions which offer minor relief (but it's all worth it, trust me).

    Eventually you will come to a gate that says "Road Closed" but you'll notice the trail continues just to the left of the gate via a narrow trail. THIS IS WHERE THE FUN BEGINS! From here on out it is fast downhill action. The top is predominately characterized by smooth, quick-paced terrain. The bottom portion of the descent is highly technical and rooty/rocky. I was riding a Trek Fuel EX 7 (full suspension) so I was able to bomb the entire descent with intense focus without too much concern. If you are riding a hard tail then you may find yourself riding the brakes most of the way down. There are several creek crossings so be prepared to get a little wet. There are many opportunities to get some air as well if that's what you are in to. The bottom of the descent spits out out right where it all started at the trail head parking lot.

    All in all it took us about 2 hours to complete the loop and we are not in great shape either. So I hope that helps! Sure wish I would have known all the above prior to my trip but I guess that's apart of the adventure!

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  • FlatTopFred

    As others mentioned, there is some climbing. I went to Ellijay for a long weekend group ride. We were concerned about some rain moving into the area. That turned out to be no problem. It poured rain on our way to the trail head and stopped just before we arrived. We geared up and hit the trails - no problem. The ground drains super fast. Of course the rocks and roots were a little slippery, but at least we were able to ride.

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  • billdreaper

    This is a great trail but prepare to work. You climb forever put the payoff is absolutely worth the work. The view is amazing and the run back down is a hoot. You blast down the hill with amazing speed and the small hills that were aganonzing to push up become launching pads for as much air as you can stomach.
    It is a little hard to find but there are people there most of the time to help guide you around for the first time.

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  • climb_head

    I camped at the bottom and hit the trail early. i rode this straight up and back down. It was fun but left me looking for more singletrack (the ride is about half fire road). I rode Pinhoti 1 and wanted to do more. Next time I will stop at Cartecay Bike Shop and get a map and directions for Pinhoti 1,2,3 into Bear Creek and make a loop out of this ride.

    Park down on the paved road on weekends as the trailhead parking can fill up. It adds about 1.5 miles.

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  • kay oh

    Tough, but worth it. Ride Bear and Pinhoti 1 and 2 yesterday. The people at Mulberry Gap are fantastic.

    Bear starts out very technical, so warm up first.

    The fires in the area have closed a lot of roads.

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  • jchens

    Just excellent. The downhill ride is one of the best (if not the best) in Georgia. There are other solid downhill runs, but probably none are as easy to access as Bear Creek. This was the first backcountry trail I ever rode, and will always be special.

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  • jmorrow21907

    Great trails if you can get over the first 5 miles, which are 80% of the overall climbing, you will be rewarded with an awesome downhill run. People at checkin are very helpful and will give you a map and help you with navigation if you call and get lost. Will be coming back here.

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  • NorthGATrekker

    As many others have said, great trail, Justin bracket ready to climb. Great workout and a ton of fun on the way down!

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  • Thomas Kreutzer

    Lots of climbing, bring your legs. Too much of the trail is in fire road and I would go to Jake Mountain anytime before coming here.

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  • themanro

    Photo essay with a review of Bear Creek and other near by trails: http://journal.rusinov.ro/90-percent-chance-of-rain/

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  • joevdenne

    Great trail with nice long climb and fun ride back down. Seems like a very safe trail up and down but, also a great workout.

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  • cc2012   ✓ supporter

    The Bear Creek Loop is a special ride. Contrary to the trail description, you can ride it counter clockwise (the not for humans part). Mere mortals (of which I am) cannot ride the first mile. It is brutal and a hike not a bike. No question that part is a SOB. But after that the remaining 3 mile climb to the gate is reasonable. From there you can climb the 1.5 miles to the amazing overlook through the shallow wide creek as described and theN it is a 4 mile bomb down. Or you can skip the overlook and hit the downhill. Truly a great loop l with a little hiking. If you park at the bear creek traihead, the first half is the climb up to the overlook. It took me 1 hr to climb. The decent back by the Gennett Poplar (larger thing in GA - take a pic) is a memorable, amazing and special ride. All in, the loop is just under 10 miles. The only part that is out back is the top 1.5 mile climb to the overlook. The trail description for the out/back experience is spot on. But if you want the loop, deal with the first mile and then you are good.

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  • spike07

    This is by far the best trail I have ridden to date. The app direction do not take you to the main bear creek trail head but to the bear creek spur trail head.
    take Hwy 52 west to mile marker 8 (on left side of the road); turn right onto Gates Chapel; go 5.4 miles to small bridge; park on the side of the road. (Please do not use the side of the road as an outhouse or changing facility! Our local neighbors don't appreciate the sights!)
    That might help!

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  • jezones

    It's a great trail in both directions, it's a great climb to the top and a even more fun to bomb down to the bottom. Lots of creek crossing and rocks and jumps. Pretty much everything a mountain biker could want.

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