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Level: Intermediate
Length: 19 mi (30.6 km)
Surface: Fire Road
Configuration: Loop
Elevation: +880/ -837 ft
Total: 49 riders

Mountain Biking Winding Stairs Loop

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#93 of 397 mountain bike trails in Georgia
#2,289 in the world

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.

First added by Jeff Barber on Apr 13, 2009. Last updated May 6, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: yes
  • 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 Dahlonega, follow GA 52 north/west several miles to Nimblewill Church Rd. on the right. Go approx. 2-3 miles on Nimblewill Church Rd. and look for FS Road 28 on the right (just past the Jake Mountain trailhead parking area). Follow FS 28 about 1-2 miles to intersection with Winding Stairs Rd / FS 77. Park on the side of the road or at the game check station just up FS 77.
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Winding Stairs Loop Trail map

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Local Info

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Tate.712 (on Apr 19, 2023)
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Trail conditions

Wet (on Sep 3, 2022)
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Dahlonega, Georgia

Easiest | 6 mi
Beginner | 6 mi
Intermediate | 2 mi
| 7 mi

Rider questions

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

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  • Josh L

    All forest service road. Great training loop with nice views.

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  • brcjacks   ✓ supporter

    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.

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  • *****

    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 old.man past some twenty year old athletes. as i looked back to see where.my 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

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  • thatsnogood

    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

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  • ckdake   ✓ supporter

    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.

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  • Greg Heil   ✓ supporter

    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!

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  • floyd_r_turbo

    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.

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