Mountain Biking Through History

Mountain bike trails can have many different features that draw the rider in and create an enjoyable outdoor experience. These different features could include challenging, rewarding climbs, rough, technical tread, amazing flow, man-made stunts, or gorgeous views – and the list goes on and on.

Historical trail features are particularly interesting to me and whenever I ride a trail with a bit of history I feel a deeper connection with my surroundings. While this historic element is not present on every mountain bike ride, many trails go past historic sites containing relics of a time long gone or are themselves pieces of history. Here are just a few examples that come to mind.

Bull Mountain, Georgia

This rusted hulk from a time long past lies just off the Bull Mountain trail outside of Dahlonega, Georgia. The truck isn’t located anywhere near a road, but the mountain bike trail lies on an old road bed that must have once been passable by trucks like this. I wish I knew why this truck was parked and abandoned miles up this mountain in the North Georgia forest, and what it had been used for. The mystery is intriguing, and every time I roll by this truck I at least have to glance at it and wonder what stories it would tell if it could talk.

Johnson Peak, Montana

Based on the large windows on all sides of this building, I’m guessing this dilapidated shack used to be a forest fire lookout post. There’s no longer a view from this spot, but the trees surrounding the cabin look relatively young in comparison to the rest of the forest, indicating that at one time you probably could have seen for miles from this vantage point.

Canada Creek, Georgia

I imagine these silos once had a barn to go with them and if they did, it’s no longer there. When I rounded this corner and rode right beneath these looming concrete structures, I couldn’t help thinking: “How cool is this?” The nearby land in this sunken valley along Canada Creek looked like it had been farmed at one time. Now, the whole area is wild and looks like it’s only used by rednecks mudding in their 4×4’s.

Tsali: Left Loop, North Carolina

photo posted by ositoking.

This chimney from an old homestead on the Tsali trails is really representative of a lot of unsung historic sites all across the nation. If I had $10 for every old fireplace I’ve seen while riding I’d probably be a rich man. However, that doesn’t detract from the interest and the history of this particular location. Where the Left Loop trail now runs used to be someone’s kitchen/living room. I wonder if it was a sizeable house, or just a small cabin? We’ll probably never know…

These are only a handful of the historical sites that I have noticed along the bike trail. I’ve stumbled across many old foundations, graves long forgotten, the remains of old bridges, and more. Trails like these are more than just another ride through the woods, another statistic on your training log; they are a ride through history!

What trails have you ridden that pass by a historical site or have their own historical significance?

Greg Heil (singletracks screen name: Goo) has mountain biked trails all across the nation and is currently a member of the Airborne Flight Crew. He writes a mountain bike blog that’s choc-full of useful, objective mountain bike information.