Jarrod’s Place Gives Mountain Bikers a Taste of Whistler in Georgia

Jarrod's Place is a shuttle-served bike park with flowy, jump-style trails and steep, natural trails that's open year 'round, rain or shine.
Photo: Jeff Barber

“There’s no way that’s in Georgia,” I remember thinking when I first saw photos from Jarrod’s Place in my social media feed. Tall, perfectly sculpted jumps appeared to be growing out of the lush green forest with a runway easily wide enough for three lanes of truck traffic. If not for the Georgia red clay I would have sworn the photos were ‘shopped.

Jarrod Harris, along with business partner Josh Cohan, purchased the nearly 230 acre property near the town of Summerville, Georgia in March of 2021, and they began building trails almost immediately. The park opened just over a year later in May 2022.

Josh Cohan left, Jarrod Harris right. Photo: Jeff Barber.

Harris has a background in BMX racing and track building. “I built a few BMX tracks, like full scale tracks,” Harris said. “Everything I did back then was all by hand in the early 90s.” Eventually Harris would come to own a property in Jasper, Georgia where he built some mountain bike trails for his friends to ride.

“It was really cool. It was a lot of like, really hard, difficult big features,” Cohan said. “But [Jarrod] wanted to expand. And overall, his idea was to have a place kind of like this. And my idea was to have a bike shop. So we kind of pulled it together. And we both had this vision of just bringing a community of people together and really creating a place that felt like home, not like a corporatized kind of like deal. And that’s what we’ve created out here.”

The bike park

Heading into its third summer season, Jarrod’s Place continues to evolve. At the time of our visit Cohan estimated the park had 16 miles of trails with give or take 20 named runs. But by the time you read this, those numbers will likely be out of date. In fact Harris was busy at work on a new blue trail descending off the very top of the ridge and making good progress when we spoke.

Shuttle vehicles bring riders to mid mountain where the most popular trails begin. Air Supply, a black diamond trail with massive jumps and features, has quickly become the park’s signature trail. One of the turns on Air Supply is so ridiculously oversize that it has its own name: Dale Burmhart. Harris’ BMX background and desire to push the envelope is clearly evident in the trail’s design and intent.

“I snuck a jump in one time right before like a [BMX] regional,” Harris told us. “We built this really cool triple out of this 180 and it was like… The thing about BMX tracks is they don’t make anything super tall. And you know, this thing was like, over six feet tall, just the face of it.”

Park facts

Double Wide, a blue trail and the park’s most popular, delivers more manageable jumps and tabletops that riders can choose to either rail or roll. The carved clay berms are deep and tall here, and with enough speed expert riders can skirt the top edges. In February the trail crew was in the process of resurfacing Double Wide from the top down, and the newly refinished upper section we rode was like rolling on a tacky terracotta slab.

Reworked lines on Double Wide. Photo: Jeff Barber

Regular trail resurfacing at Jarrod’s Place usually involves improvements and in some cases, trail expansion. The crew felt that one Double Wide section was too steep and wasted more elevation than necessary so this time around they’re adding a new turn or two which will make the trail about a hundred yards longer.

Double Wide also features an infamous set of “whoops,” essentially a rhythm section of tight rollers that sneak up on riders partway through the run. If you ever played Excitebike on the original Nintendo, you’ll recognize these as the bumps that always seemed to cause the little Nintendo man to crash. I’m sure there’s a proper way to ride this section in real life, but I never figured it out. The best I could do was slow down and hold on tight.

Officially Simple Green is a designated beginner trail, though when we rode the trail, fist-sized rocks were starting to peek through the soil. This is a constant battle for the trail builders, and not just at Jarrod’s, as we learned during a visit to Rock Creek bike park the weekend before. For now I’d recommend riders start with Double Wide and then ride Simple Green.

Taking it from the top

The bike shuttle drops riders off at mid mountain, and accessing the black and double black diamond trails off the very top of the ridge requires some pedaling. We saw very few riders on the top of the mountain; the shuttle-served trails are so fun and accessible that I’m not surprised. There’s a new climbing trail to the top which gains nearly 400 feet in the span of three quarters of a mile. The grade is surprisingly mellow thanks to the 14 switchbacks we counted. The old climbing trail is still an option, and while it’s more direct it’s obviously much steeper too.

Currently the trails that drop off the top of the ridge are advanced and expert level natural trails. Park staff is working on a new narrow, machine-built trail from that top that will be blue rated.

For now Lady Bug is the easiest, not easy, way down. The steep switchbacks require commitment though the biggest features do include ride arounds. Loose rocks and deep ruts in places add to the challenge.

Remote mountain feel

Jarrod’s Place is located a bit off the beaten path and while we were there the woods were dead quiet. On paper the park appears close to Interstate 75 but getting there requires traversing miles of backroads. Cohan tells us Jarrod’s is an hour and forty minutes from the Atlanta airport, an hour from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and two hours from Birmingham, Alabama.

The longest green trail in the park, Armuchee Express, is named for the Armuchee Ridges, a geological aberration that formed the snake-like ridges here in northwest Georgia. In fact the Pinhoti Trail passes nearby, and the Dry Creek trailhead, where the Snake Creek Gap Time Trial traditionally begins, is located along the very same ridge as Jarrod’s Place. Previously the property served as a tree farm.

Park services and amenities

Visitors to Jarrod’s Place are greeted with a bike shop stocked with snacks, drinks, bike parts, and accessories for purchase. There are also bathrooms, showers and covered picnic tables that are perfect for relaxing after a long day of riding. The park has a fleet of Santa Cruz rental bikes — Nomads, Bronsons, and Megatowers. There are a couple of Bullit eMTBs for rent as well, though Cohan says they don’t usually get a lot of takers on those. “Most of the people that are renting a bike, the majority of the time they are only riding the lower half because we have so many options from the Midway.”

While e-bike riders can purchase a less expensive $30 day pass, most visitors opt for the $50 wrist band that includes shuttle access to make the most of their time at the park. The shuttle vehicles, designed by Southern Gravity, can haul 20 riders at a time on open-air benches welded to the back of a powerful pickup truck. A ride to the mid-mountain shuttle drop takes about five minutes. On busy days the park can run up to four shuttle vehicles at once.

Riders need to pedal about a half-mile from the main parking lot and bike shop to the shuttle pickup area. Be warned, getting to the pickup requires pedaling and also a little climbing.

Early fall to early winter is typically the best time to visit, and early spring to early summer is good too. The park is open rain or shine with shuttles generally running Thursday through Sunday each week.

“We stay open in the rain. So like if we have a really rainy weekend and [the trails] get kinda chewed up we go out on a Monday or Tuesday if it’s dry enough and we fix everything,” said Cohan.

Jarrod’s Place offers primitive camping on site, hiking trails and even a couple of frisbee golf baskets that are constantly moving around the property. This year the park is hosting a winter race series and is planning a big spring festival. There’s also a popular Halloween event with a lighted downhill run.

Even the trail from the parking lot to the shuttle pickup is fun to ride. Photo: Leah Barber.

Harris and Cohan hope to keep expanding the bike park, with plans for a dedicated beginner area behind the shop, and of course they’ll continue maintaining and improving the trails already in place. Ultimately the goal is to have a spot where all types of riders can come and have a good time.

“We have a smorgasbord. People think that we’re known for our flow trails but we have amazing singletrack and chunky trails too,” says Cohan. “It draws a lot of people across the board, beginner all the way to professional.”