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Level: Intermediate
Length: 40 mi (64.4 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Out & Back
Elevation: +347/330 ft
Total: 207 riders

Mountain Biking Issaqueena Lake

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#5 of 114 mountain bike trails in South Carolina
#350 in the world

This is one of the fastest best trails I have ever ridden. Although I didn't get to check out all the trails in the area, the main trail is very flat, very smooth and follows a ridge for several miles. This trail is very fast and is not technical at all. Just a fast, fun ride. Very Tsali-esque.

First added by alvin.santoy on Dec 31, 2002. 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
For the XC/AM trails (not the DH/FR trail)..."From SC Hwy 123, turn LT (from west) or turn RT (from east) onto Hwy 133 (College Avenue/Six Mile Hwy) and head north after passing under the immediate RR overpass. Within 4 miles you will pass by Twelve Mile Recreational Park and then cross over a lake bridge. Turn LT onto Old Six Mile Rd. immediately after crossing bridge. Within 5 miles you will see the Isaqueena Trails Trail Head on the LT side of the road. This trail head is also for hikers and equestrian riders as well (separate parking section for the equestrian riders though). For the DH/FR trail..."From Hwy 123, turn LT (from west) or RT (from east) onto Old Clemson Hwy (there is a Palms Gas Station on LT and a Food Lion on RT at Hwy 123 and Old Clemson Hwy intersection). Make a RT onto Lawrence Bridge Rd. (Old Seneca Rd later on). You will see a concrete/aggregate plant on the immediate LT of Lawrence Bridge Rd. Once you drive over a lake bridge, within a mile tops you will see Clemson Experimental Forest entrance on the RT (can be easily missed). Turn RT. Once entered through the CEF gates (dirt road), make a LT at the immediate fork (Isaqueena Lake Rd. and West Dam Rd.) onto Isaqueena Lake Rd. Drive the dirt road for about a mile or two and make a LT at the Holly Springs picnic/recreational area. This is the bottom of the DH/FR trail which is up the mountain. You will need to walk or ride your bike up the small service trail to the left of the cooking pavilion or start walking your bike at the bottom of the run to the RT of the cooking pavilion where the big structure gapped drop-off is at. The little service trail will take you inbetween a road gap and up the mountain. You will see the trail structures on the DH trail on the LT as you pass the road gap. There is a dual slalom run up further from the starting ramp of the DH trail where they race. Also, there is a DJ line to the inside of the DH trail as well. You can also reach the DH/FR trails from the XC/AM Trail Head...."Drive north on Old Six Mile Rd. from the XC/AM Trail Head. Within 1 mile, you will see Isaqueena Lake Rd. (dirt road) on the LT at the Clemson Experimental Forest entrance. Drive within 5 miles down dirt road and Holly Springs picnic/recreational are will be on your RT. (WARNING...if you go this route, you will have to drive through a shallow creek crossing. It is about 2' deep but very sound bottom. It is part of Issaqueena Lake Rd.
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Issaqueena Lake Trail map

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Trail checkins

brian1675 (on Apr 10, 2022)
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Dry (on May 26, 2019)
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Issaqueena Lake videos

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Rider questions

Q: Would this place be more fun on a cyclocross bike instead of a full suspension mountain bike? I am new to the area and I am trying to get a feel for which bike to bring. Thanks for any info!
A: This trail system is great for CX. I ride it regularly and will start a CX group ride this fall. (probably friday evenings).

Q: How early is it open?
A: It's not regulated for daylight hours. You can nightride out here. the only thing is to use some common sense during hunting season as the trails go through a lot of archery areas. I recommend nightrides, sunday (all day) and mid-day rides during hunting season.

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  • Kurti_sc

    trails in most of the forest are good. there is heavy logging near Holly Springs. The climb up Grinder is really terrible at the top. But UnGrinder remains flowy and sweet.

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  • Yankeegame

    Nice and flowing with a few tricky parts and a good climb.

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  • kmccraw

    A good cross country trail. Trails are marked and maintained. Minor hills and no really hard, technical spots.

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  • BeckyCT

    I love living close enough to this trail so I can ride it regularly. At first I found it difficult to navigate, but with persistence and experimentation many of the routes are not familiar friends. There is still more to explore.

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  • oncoman

    It's interesting that there haven't been any reviews in a couple years. I rode the lake trail yesterday for the first time in 10 years or so. It used to be one of my favorite trails, with lots of flowing singletrack as described by others. I don't know if I'm just older and out of practice or if erosion has taken it's toll on this trail, but I found about 10-20% to be smooth and the rest extremely rough. Yeah, I know that rocks and roots go with the mountain biking territory, but if you're practically getting bounced off your hardtail every 20 or 30 feet it's not much fun. Also, a lot of trail leading down to the lake trail was very washed out. I want to try some of the other trails in the system, of which there are reportedy some 40 miles, but I probably won't be riding the lake trail again anytime soon.

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  • MTBposer

    Well, with the parts of the trail system I've ridden I'd say its a nice casual place to ride. As such, I'm surprised by all of the 5-star reviews. Being in the woods biking in and of itself is always awesome. However, I am disappointed that its not a bit more exciting and technical of a ride. It's got the topography, and hence the potential, to be great... but the trails all just kind of meander along with moderate ascents and descents, never really making you work very hard. I moved here from MI and had such high hopes for the area. The trail builders there took advantage of any hill they could find, as in straight up and down the steepest sections! And toss a few boulders in there if its still not challenging enough. Here, you've got all the hills you'd want, and they're kinda just there to look at. I don't get it, was this system built primarily for hikers and the bikers are just settling for what's already there??

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  • Mourning Sage

    I rode Collarbone to Lawrence and then finished up on the lake trail and it was a fast, fun ride. There were a few switchbacks and root sections to keep it technically interesting and if you take the Dam road trail back you get a bit of a climb at the end to give you that aerobic workout you were looking for.

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  • 6seagull

    This is my 'home trail' also. I've been riding here for 20 years. Some trails have come and gone, but most recently, more stuff has beed added for the good. As much as I have been here I still don't get bored, and I'm still finding trails. Paris Mtn. is great, but there is basically one set of trails there that I really like, so when I go there, I'm riding the same trail every time. I'm personally not into the ramps and jumps that are here at Issaqueena, but that's great for those who are and that Clemson U. lets them build them.
    At Issaqueena I get my climbing in without the fear of cardiac arrest and there's plenty of flowing stuff that's really enjoyable.
    Not on the list of other activities available is boating / kayaking.

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  • flatback

    I give this trail a 5. Cannot think of anything more the normal mountain biker would want. 3 friends and I rode the trail for the first time Saturday and time constraints prevented us from covering more than about 10 miles but it was awesome...great views, well maintained, the full package. We went up the dam road trail and then followed along the lake thru Lawrence and Hardwood back up to the trailhead. Then we went down Collarbone and ended up coming up Vomit to the access road and circling back around. We will ride this trail again soon and hope to hit all major portions. The trail along the lake is awesome!

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  • Nefarious Eduardo

    A good ride. Not too technical, but still have to pick your line in spots. Enough to kick the craving but not so challenging that you will have to get off the bike at all.

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  • Nick Kickham

    love this trail system. go Tigers!

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  • jfflood

    Great place to get your ride on! Has a little something for everyone, and don't be surprised to run across deer, turkey, wild hogs, and even rattle snakes. I have been riding here for years and have ran across all on the trail. There is far more to ride and see than the lake trail.

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  • SCFreerider

    My son and I shred the Clemson DH/FR trails and as always had a serious blast until my son busted three of his teeth on the 15' ramped gap jump gone wrong at the end of the day. The DH/FR trail is in the NW section of the Clemson Experimental Forest where Lake Isaqueena is at. It is at the "Holly Springs" picnic area off of Isaqueena Lake Rd. (dirt road within CEF). There is also a DJ line running alongside the DH trail and also a dual slalom run as well further up the mountain.

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    I rode Issaqueena Lake 2 weeks ago and loved it !!! I want to go back when dryer. Lots of twist n turns. Didn't get to ride all of the trails, But I'm definitely going back !! If you'er in my area (Martin,Toccoa GA) give me a shout at 706-244-8023 and we could car pool up there. It is only 40 minutes from my drive way here in Martin, GA.

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  • ctburns1972

    I found this little gem by accident. Great trail and lots of trails to explore...both single track and fire roads and lots of connector trails. I have rode lots of trails in the area, but this trails is now one of my favorite! This trail has a little of everything for all levels of mountain bikers.

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  • polishedlugz

    This is my home trail. Its not Pisgah, its not Tsali, it is its own animal. if you are looking for long mountainous, technical climbs go elsewhere. if you want steep downhill that lasts an hour go elsewhere. if you want flowing single track Issaqueena is your fix. BUT you have to link loops..Issaqueena requires that you get to know it.They have started marking trails,which i hate, but I'm biased (don't get me started on the homogenization of the world and the lack of character it brings. Everybody wants Disney World.) With that being said if I was from out of town the lack of trail markings would suck, but hey the University needs those tourist dollars... Anyway, Issaqueena is a hidden gem. If you want good stuff take Indian Springs or Collar Bone down into the Willow Springs area and hit the Dam Road back to the free ride course. Its not what you expect. Bring your full face helmet because it does have the afformentioned wall ride, table tops, bridges, gap jumps etc... Keep in mind your not in the mountains. Things are short. If you ever skated a launch ramp in the 80's you'll get it. You just session it! Get back on the the dam road and hit Wounded Knee on the way out. Grab a beer at Nicks, Backstreets if you like a good beer selection and a Dirtrag kind of bar. Tigertown or Esso if you like to ride your bike but tailgate in the fall. Good food to be had at BGR if you like burgers, Supertaco and El Jimador for some Mexican, and Calhoun Corners if you want a filet and some bourbon. The best bbq is about 15 minutes down the road towards anderson at the smoking pig. Its legit my friends...

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  • jhato160

    I have ridden this trail several times and it is a good trail. Very intermediate. They desperately need to mark it better as I have heard there is a lot of riding back there but there are a lot of turns for horse trails, firetrails, etc. Also, they really need to mark the downhill course. It is the hidden gem of this trail, apparently.

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  • jhbrown

    The lake loop is somewhat challenging due to the amount of rocks and roots exposed by the spring rains, and the narrowness of the trail along the lake. We jumped off the trail at the dam and onto the main fire road for another hour of decent climbs and descents, with a cooling-off dip in the lake half-way. If you know where to go, there are multiple options to ride and create any level of riding you want. Better trail marking would help those who dont know the area.

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  • Dahamp2003

    Trail was pretty awesome. Like they said, it has some pretty fast downhill sections and a few technical little parts, but for the most part its just a nice ride. The trails aren't marked very well at all though.


    Just went on the downhill/freeride part yesterday, and let me tell you. It is NUTS. Most fun I have ever had. There are jumps, a huge wall at least 20 feet high you can ride on, huge 5 foot berms, a little dirt jump/flow park kinda thing. There are a lot of manmade obstacles out there. If you need directions go to clemsonfreeriders.com and click directions. It was the only way I could find it.* Review edited 11/6/2011

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  • jrexsimmons

    Went in 2nd entrance past gas station on left. Entered the trail head and was suprised at the up and downs and sizable root ledges. Trail report states flat.. Not where I rode. Fun trails with some short downhill that ends at a pavillion. Pleasently surprised.
    Day 2 Went in lower entrance, after 12 mile bridge, entrance 1/2 mile on left. Wonderful singletrack* Review edited 7/15/2010

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