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Level: Intermediate
Length: 12 mi (19.3 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Loop
Elevation: +760/ -785 ft
Total: 56 riders

Mountain Biking Dawson Forest

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#122 of 397 mountain bike trails in Georgia
#2,982 in the world

Dawson Forest is a well known wild life preserve with newly added MTB trails. There are three different trails ranging from 6.7 miles to 12.1 miles. All three have a wide variety of technical challenges including tough climbs and steep downhills, mud, and several creek crossings one of which is a carry across anout knee deep and even higher after a rain. These trails tend to be biker maintained- mostly singletrack which may have unexpected obst. including wildlife. If you're in for a challenging ride with Beautiful scenery and wildlife this is great day trip!

First added by nursebecca on Jun 5, 2009. Last updated May 2, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: yes
  • 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
Dawson Forest- State park located in Dawson County on Hwy 9. You should google this and get a map if you plan on going, since directions could get a little complicated. Once you turn into the park, and go through the gates, there will be trail parking on the right with trail maps. These trails are owned by City of ATL and recommend a $5.00 donation for trail upkeep.
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Dawson Forest Trail map

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Local Info

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Trail checkins

f0n1x (on Aug 28, 2021)
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Trail conditions

Good (on Aug 28, 2021)
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Camping & Lodging

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Dawson Forest videos

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Dawson Trail - Tricky washout paths
Dawson Forest Mt. Bike Trail -…
Dawson Forest Trail - Crossing the…
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Dawsonville, Georgia

Beginner | 6 mi
Intermediate | 2 mi
Easiest | 6 mi
| 3 mi

Rider questions

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  • CaribMtb

    Almost 1 yr since I rode this. Road Blue, Red, Pink & Orange trails. Mostly double track, with some gravel roads & few short stretches of overgrown single track. Looks like little work being done on these trails & mostly used by horse riders. This has added to the erosion, but it is all rideable. Blue trail has 2 "get-off-your-bike" river crossings. The last one is at thigh level. Water temp was ok after a hot summer, but it will be cold Nov to May.
    I wouldnt drive too far just to ride this trail, but its 15 mins off GA400 going north towards Bull/Jake mtn, so worth doing as part of a days riding. BUT ensurse you print a map, although there are often free copies at the trailhead. Your only signs are rectangle color spray paint markings on trees

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  • CaribMtb

    Backcountry trails shared with horses but well worth riding. Download a map or pickup copy from notice board in car park. Trails are marked with color sprayed on trees. A little confusing but with the map you can work out where you are. Slightly over grown in places but 100% rideable. Blue trail has 2 river crossings; one rideable the other gets to thigh height so better to carry bike. There are some great downhill sweeps with a few climbs & occassional roots. $7 day permit or $75 yearly permit required. Drop box for check or cash at trail head. Rangers around, so pay. I think its worth the $7 as lots of chainsaw work had been done to keep trails open. 20% gravel roads, 80% single track.

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  • a11smiles

    good trail, but much of the blue trail is overgrown. would still highly recommend

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  • gokupe

    was there 2 weeks ago, no other bikes, lot of horses (nice riders)
    poor signs (got lost a couple of times)
    terrain great for horses , OK for mtb
    not taken care
    charge you $ PER PERSON

    charlston or haw creek are much better

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  • Reet_TripOutside.com

    Great potential at this place but it is not kept up/maintained for mountain biking. I would recommend checking to see if there's a horse event going to avoid running into a lot of horses. Great deep creek crossing and some great long/steep climbs as well. Can be very muddy in sections after a shower.

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  • MTB Crackfox

    I rode the blue trail today and it's fun and I'll ride it again. It's not a technically difficult trail. There are a few hills that give you a good challenge. The river crossing is sketchy at best. If there has been any rain I would avoid it as the river is quite swift. The trail was quite muddy but still very rideable. It's a big loop with good views and it changes things up alot so you don't get bored. Great Time. Not super difficult though.

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  • MTB Crackfox

    Just like Fit4Life said I have avoided this trail due to all the negative reviews. But after he road it and said it was in great shape I couldn't not go since it is so close. The trails are well maintained, not too much horse disruption and it is a nice ride. I only rode the Orange Loop, plan to get back out to the Blue Loop soon. Will definitely be headed back. Glad they are great repair and open.

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  • Josh L

    I have been very hesitant to come out and ride these trails due to all the negative comments I have heard since moving to the area. Now that I have finally ridden here I will definitely be back for more. I rode the orange trail and had a positive experience. The trail was fast and flowing with a lot of short hills so I was always going up and down but no substantial climbs like you would get at Bull/Jake. If you're looking to put in some good mileage then this is the place to go. I didn't think the trail was all that difficult other than dodging all of the horse doodoo, this makes it somewhat of a challenge if you can find the humor in that. My biggest negative thought/comment would be the $7 parking fee, yuck.

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  • SunSnowandWater

    I didn't see how to simply update to state it is closed until Tuesday. Disappointing. I didn't get a chance to check it out. I will definitely return. Straight shot from Dawsonville Outlets, and the area looks nice. No cell reception there.

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  • [email protected]

    Rode with my son yesterday. I would say not technical, but strenuous. Trail fee of $7.00 per rider. Horses on the trail, and they are spooked by the bikes so just be courteous when coming up on them.

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  • Protocool

    Rode last weekend. Technical obstacles from horse traffic on trails. other than great scenery.

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  • mscaldas

    went after a full week of rain and the whole trail was very muddy.
    rode 6 miles on the red trail and then tried to do the blue trail, but did not dare to cross the river - again, too much rain and temp. below 40 did now wanted to get that wet. The horses do mess up a lot on the trail, but made me work extra hard and really felt like double the mileage because of all the mud.

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  • Reet_TripOutside.com

    Not a lot of single tracks or switchbacks that you would find on a good mountain bike trail BUT it is a decent trail for some good climbs and technical stuff.
    There are two creek crossings, one is about waist deep in low current but easily walkable.
    We wanted to just try it out as the trail always comes up when searching close by so we gave it a shot yesterday.
    - very well marked
    - easy to follow at every turn
    - creek crossings can be fun
    - good climbs, fire road and some downhill mix

    - very muddy and wet sections that are unavoidable
    - run in with horses, and horse poop
    - few rutted out sections

    Overall, we would drive a bit further to Jake/Bull but we weren't overly dissappointed by the trail. Will upload pictures as well.

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  • Kylek2

    Most of the trails are 5 feet wide and muddy almost no singletrack.

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  • *

    Horses have trashed the trails!!!!!!!

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  • dirtinmytire

    Hit the trails this past Sunday and for 1st time out to Dawson Forest was overall impressed with the network of trails and climbs that it had to offer. We parked at the south gate and started out on red/blue trail which was rutted up in spots from heavy horse traffic. Decided to take blue trail for the remainder of the trip and conditions improved immensely once we entered back into the woods off of Shoal Creek Rd. Especially enjoyed riding through the Shoal Creek and then getting to walk through Etowah river in order to continue on the trail…..would of been refreshing and welcomed in July but not in Feb. Markings for all trails were well displayed and had no issues finding our way back to where we started. Definitely plan on going back in the future but 1st need to scrounge up $7 in change….user fee is $7 and annual pass is $75.

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  • NY2cali

    All in all it was a good trail. I did the red loop today and there were three trees down on the trail but other than that it was clear. I did run into several horses who were very scared of the bikes and did not like us on the trail but their riders were very friendly. However the information here is not up to date. Anyone over 16 is required to pay $5 and there are several officers there to inforce this. Also, there are some days tgat riding is not permitted at all due to hunting so make sure you are riding at a time that is allowed. The law inforcement officers are strict and mean business. Still, its definately worth going back for. There is over 20 miles of trails here.

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  • screenrider

    Great ride today. The trail is as good as it can be considering the horse traffic. Limited areas that are not thrashed by the horses. A great workout …a lot of climbing…a good place to get back in the woods deep. Easy access from 400. Not the best single track but great for getting out and exploring in the woods.

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  • GoldenGoose

    This trail exceeded my expectations on a couple of fronts and I think it is certainly worth riding again. You just have to know what you are getting into before you ride so you aren't disappointed afterwards. Grab a map at the trailhead. Rode the blue loop today. GPS showed the route as 11.7 miles. Everything from gravel roads, to double track, to singletrack, and several water crossings thrown in for good measure. As others have mentioned, these trails are dominated by equestrians but they still have a lot to offer to mountain bikers. Lots of trail and very secluded. In spots, the trail is very rutted from hooves. In others, its hard to find any sign of horses and it's smooth, fast riding. The trails reminded me a lot of what you'll find at the Pine Mountain WMA; rugged trail that was not originally designed with bikes in mind, but still provides a fun and challenging ride. If you decide to go with the Blue loop, be aware of the two major water crossings that WILL get you wet. One is a waist deep crossing of the Etowah river and the other is a knee deep crossing of Shoal Creek. It was 75 degrees outside today and both felt VERY refreshing. Saw no other bikers but passed about 7 horses on the trail. Very polite riders and the majority of the horses seemed accustomed to seeing mountain bikes as well. If I have to ride near horses, it's nice to have ones that are not skittish and seem to also have intelligent riders. There seemed to be some recent "trail maintenance" that was done on the shared section of the red and blue loop that has not yet been "ridden in". Given more riders and some time with mother nature, this section will pack down. In the mean time, you might want to ride the Blue loop in a counter clockwise direction to avoid having to pedal up this soft mess.

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  • Jeff Barber

    I wasn't able to find much singletrack here which was disappointing. The horses seem to keep the trail wide and chunky for the most part. Don't attempt the river ford on a bike except in summer. Regulations state that you're not allowed to bike on any roads that aren't designated as bike/horse trails which seems overly restrictive.

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