This weekend I got a chance to check out the Dauset trails south of Atlanta and I think I’m impressed. I mean, just looking at the stats – ~17 miles of wooded singletrack, no trail usage fees, and within 1 hour of Atlanta–this trail system should be incredible. Based on my ride Saturday, it nearly is.
It rained pretty hard last Thursday and I was concerned the sun on Friday wasn’t enough to re-open the trails for Saturday. But a quick call to the Dauset Nature Center office confirmed that the trails were indeed open. When we got to the parking area (complete with not one but two portable toilets) we saw a few cars in the parking lot, pretty good for an early Saturday morning. The sign-in log confirmed that the trails had already seen decent usage that day.
The trails themselves are well marked and the free maps available at the trailhead made it easy to find our way around. The first mile or so seemed to be almost entirely downhill and we eventually found ourselves at a creek crossing with easy bridge access. Not surprisingly the trails also got wetter and muddier as we descended. After riding in the mud for several miles we started to feel guilty for even riding in these conditions despite the OK from park management.
All this leads to my one and only complaint about the Dauset Trails–they really aren’t optimized for mountain bikes. Don’t get me wrong–I’ll be back to ride again–but I’m afraid that the trails aren’t sustainable in their current configuration. Little consideration to things like drainage and erosion mean you’ll find yourself spinning on roots on steep pitches and splashing through puddles (or in our case Saturday, small streams) even in the driest conditions. Adding switchbacks and banked turns in some locations could really turn this into a spectacular trail system for mountain bikers.
Dauset is definitely worth the drive down from Atlanta if you’re looking for new dirt–just be sure to call ahead and bring your knobbies!