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Level: Intermediate
Length: 3 mi (4.8 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Network
Elevation: -
Total: 4 riders

Mountain Biking Etowah River Trail

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#291 of 398 mountain bike trails in Georgia
#8,916 in the world

As I've already mentioned, this trail begins in the back of a campsite right at the bottom of the Hightower trail. I'm calling it the "Etowah River Trail" as it roughly parallels the beginnings of the Etowah river. Since it follows the river, the trail is pretty flat, but relatively challenging in spots. This trail is basically a hiking trail that I imagine stays worn in by the rangers, as this is entirely in the ranger camp. Some sections of it are great riding with gorgeous views of the river and some challenging technical maneuvers to keep you on your toes. Other sections aren't any fun at all due to the massive number of dead trees that are down, and some parts are very faint and difficult to follow.

First added by Greg Heil on Jan 29, 2012. Last updated May 11, 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
Head north out of Dahlonega on old Highway 60 (not the bypass), out past the middle school and the high school. Turn left onto Camp Wahsega Rd. and drive all the way up until it dead ends into Camp Frank D. Merril. Turn hard left and park in the church parking lot.

To get to this trail in particular, either ride the entire Hightower Loop and drop down the Hightower trail and pick it up at the bottom (at the bottom of Hightower, hang a right into a campsite and pick up the trail off the backside of the site) or drive straight into ranger camp and continue to the back of the camp and up the gravel road until it dead ends.
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Etowah River Trail Trail map

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MTB Crackfox (on Apr 2, 2014)
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(on Jun 24, 2014)
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Dahlonega, Georgia

Intermediate | 8 mi
Beginner | 25 mi
Easiest | 6 mi
Intermediate | 20 mi

Rider questions

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  • Renegade33

    Went back out on this trail "Post Ride" at CFM. I equipped myself with a bow saw & pruning shears. There are currently 2 bridges that are ride able, some of the low creek crossings can be ridden, some are a carry over. I marked the general route with neon yellow caution tape every 200 /- meters. I ride this south to north from the key hole and it's ride worthy up to Simmons LZ (Landing Zone) which is a huge open area on trail right. At this general location I cross over the Etowah and head south on the opposite side of the river. I recommend turning around at this point. The south bound lane need serious attention, with many folks and power tools. Still tons of blow down from Irma & the snow & Ice storms late last year. There is a huge fire ring at the end of the marked section. Not a bad camping spot if so inclined.

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  • Renegade33

    I ventured out onto this trail today to see how well it had been cleaned up and whether it was still ride able. I would have to say this is now a junk trail due to all of the blowdown/dead trees. A lot has been cleaned up, but much more work needs to be done to make this trail worthy of mention. At best it's a foot path. I would say two FULL days with several folks and power tools (Chainsaws) to get this in riding condition. There are a few footbridges that need some work and a few more added on the north bound lane. I had a very difficult time staying on/finding the south bound lane on the west side of the Etowah. This used to be a great cool down/warm up trail when we did MTB PT at the Ranger Camp.

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  • Renegade33

    Amazing! When I was at CFM in the late 90's early 00, we started riding on A Co STX lanes. Up the Etowah almost to Blackfarms. We crossed the "creek" and headed back towards the airfield on the opposite side of the river and finished on the down wind side of the track. That was my last ride in 2001, End-Oed heading back to the "Keyhole"

    Now that Camp Frank D. Merrill (CFM) is owned by the Army there are property lines between CFM and the National Forest. The way we rode this in the end of the last century, We always did the Montgomery Trail ride first. Coming down the mountain we would head north up the airfield towards the keyhole. Cross the foot bridge to be on the East side of the river. The rest is the same as already written. Riding down "Hightower Express" would be quite hairy IMHO. If you have access to CFM you can ride past the motor pool to the end and pick up the trail as described. Commonly referred to as Black Farms Turn Around.

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  • MTB Crackfox

    This trail has many down trees due to the bad winter. It is maintain by the Rangers as I am an Instructor out there and can confirm they walk it alot. It has a trailhead at the end of Mosby Army Airfield where the Rangers refer to the Key Hole. It has a few Challenging spots but overall is pretty easy. Some Great Views of the river

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  • Greg Heil   ✓ supporter

    This is a fun jaunt in the woods, and if you live locally and ride everything else in the area on a regular basis, I'd recommend checking it out for a little change of pace. If you're traveling from a ways away, I wouldn't recommend driving for this trail specifically. If you're interested in Hightower and then want to tack this on at the end for fun, then by all means.

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