Winding Stairs Loop

3.56 out of 5
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Fire Road
↑ 2,900 ft
↓ 2,700 ft
elevation (ft)

Trail Description
About this trail
A forest road loop with gnarly climbs and incredible views. Head up on FS 28 past the 4H camp and the US Army Ranger training camp. Continue up Cooper Gap Rd / FS 80 to the top of Cooper Gap and the Canada Creek loop parking area (the Appalachian trail also crosses here). Make a left on FS 42 and ride on the ridge above 3,000 feet with great views on either side. Continue on FS 42 to Winding Stair Gap and go left on FS 77 and enjoy the 4 mile (steep) downhill back to your car. Not much traffic and great views.
added by Jeff BarberWorld Champ
Trail Features
Trail features
  • Lift Service
  • Drinking Water
  •   Night Riding
  • Pump Track
  • Restrooms
  • Winter Fat Biking
Directions to Trailhead
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Trail Q&A
Rider Questions


Q: can a endurance athlete ride this even though the mtn bike skills a not much -Guest

A: Yes. It's all wide gravel roads. There is a steep descent on the back side of the loop but it's just a steep gravel road.

Jeff Barber answered on February 18, 2016. Did you find this helpful? Yes | No


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System Trails (1)
System Trails (1)
Cooper's Gap
Local Info & Nearby Trails
Trail Check-ins
Trail Check-ins
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Recent Trail Check-ins     (43 total check-ins)
  ciphersevenx   on Jun 27, 2018
  cc2012   on May 27, 2018
  patquinn63   on Apr 13, 2018   on Aug 13, 2017
  LeighS68   on Aug 4, 2017
Photo & Video Gallery (107)
Trail Photos & Videos (107)
Reviews (7)


August 1, 2014
Fit4Life28 Singletrack  
Review: All forest service road. Great training loop with nice views.


April 29, 2012
brcjacks Trailblazer  
Review: Going up winding stair (FS77) is part of the Southern Cross cyclocross race and that is not for the weak or timid biker. Parts of the climb are steeper than 25%. Most people take 45 min to an hour to complete this climb. It is a real leg burner and if you're not in shape don't even attempt it or you'll be walking for most of it.

Similar Trail: Other stuff in the North Georgia mountains. It's not technical at all, unless you consider forest service roads technical.

Granny Gear

March 25, 2012
Review: biked up the winding stairs as part of my spring break bikepacking trip from dahlonega. with fourty pound packs on our backs my buddy and i had to walk almost all of it because it was steep and gnarly. i want to attempt it without a bacpack because while we were walking a man in his mid forties passed us. yes a forty year past some twenty year old athletes. as i looked back to see friend was i see this guy and could only.laugh. i stayed up with the.guy walking beside him for half a mile until we made to the intersection heading to springer. he kept going. he said he was heading to duchess and then back to bull mountain. mouth dropped i have.mad respect doe that man. last night of the trip we camped along fs77. awesome views and going back down was worth the climb. the whole loop is a great training loop because of the great climbs in elevation. DB


July 26, 2010
Review: From below: I was one of the guys on a cross bike. Only disadvantage of riding a cyclocross bike on a gravel grind like this was the sketchy downhill sections. Lowest gear I had in the bag was 38x26, but was plenty enough to manage most of the uphill. I got caught walking on the last pitch before the first peak, man it was SO STEEP there. Just a nice gravel grind.

* Review edited 7/25/2010


July 25, 2010
ckdake Doubletrack  
Review: The views aren't photo-worthy in the middle of the summer when trees are in full foliage, but this is still a nice ride! The long continuous uphill gives you plenty of time to put your head down and crank out the 3000+ ft of elevation gain, and the downhill is fast and quick. I rode it on a mountian bike today, but the two guys I rode with did cyclocross bikes and still had a good time.

World Champ

January 19, 2010
Greg Heil World Champ  
Review: Did this ride yesterday, and dang was it intense! The road was soggy from rain and seriously destroyed any momentum, so that most likely increased the difficulty significantly. This ride has some killer climbs to start off with, coupled with some amazing views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The up and down along the ridge was a gorgeous ride. Wish there was legal singletrack up that high to ride. Anyhow, when the downhill came, it came quickly and was BLAST to come bombing down FS77. Maybe the fast I've ever gone off pavement. All in all, a killer ride!

Similar Trail: Cooper Creek, anything on a forest service road, Bull Mountain

Granny Gear

May 31, 2009
Review: I usually start this trail at the entrance to the 5th Ranger Training Battalion Camp Frank Merrill on Camp Washega Rd. Heading uphill, this is the start of the 34k Ranger Mtn bike race, going east or right facing the Ranger Camp. Its a fairly steady climb of over 6k getting progressively more difficult at 5 - 6 k point. Taking a left on Forest Service road 42 you continue to climb but not as steep with some gliding. Eventually you'll run along the top ridge and take a left fork down Winding Stair. Be cautious, it's steep downhill and fast and can be muddy just below the fork if it's been raining but then turns coarse gravel and fast downhill. You're taking Forest Service Rd 42 to left on FS77 and then left on FS28 back to entrance to Camp Frank Merrill. That's 34k or about 19.5 - 21 miles. You'll go by Camp Wahsega at the 30k point and then 4k of steep uphill for the last section before a short flat before the camp and Mt Zion Church which some people park at to ride this loop.

Winding Stairs Loop MTB Trail 3.56 out of 5 based on 7 ratings. 7 user reviews.
Trail Conditions
Trail Conditions          < / > embed