My college gives us one day off for “Fall Break.” I’m not sure how a 3-day weekend qualifies for a vacation, but apparently it does! I decided to make the most of this precious time, so I hit the road and drove over to Ellijay, Georgia to investigate a couple of trails I’d never ridden before.
First on my list was the Ridgeway Loop. I had heard that the hills were short, very steep and anaerobic, and that the trail didn’t receive much traffic… these reviews were dead on.
This photo is very characteristic of the entire trail.
This is definitely an old-school trail design that sends the singletrack straight up and straight down all the hills. Still, in spite of the design flaws, most of the climbs are manageable due to their short overall length; going anaerobic can be tough, but it can be done for a short time.
As for the condition of the singletrack itself, the trail doesn’t seem to receive much traffic at all. There were sticks, branches, and leaf litter on the main tread for miles. It was hard to tell, but it looked like the brush on the sides of the trail had recently been mowed down by a brush hog, and some of that debris fell on the singletrack as well. As a result, it might possibly receive more traffic than it appears to, but from one ride it was very difficult to tell.
Of course, the entire trail wasn’t actual singletrack… some rather lengthy sections were old doubletrack forest roads, and one section ran through what looked and felt like a tilled-up field, but there were a couple of singletrack jewels thrown in, too.
Hands down, the best section of trail was the last mile that drops down from the paved road junction before the turn off to the mountain bike parking and runs directly to the parking lot. This mile featured a modern trail design, and it looked like it had been cut more recently than the rest of the trail. However, it didn’t ride with the feel of a brand-new trail, so it’s difficult to say when they put this section in. Hopefully there is more of this in store for the rest of the trail!
When I dropped out into the parking lot after finishing with this swoopy delight, I had to ride back up the pavement and drop in again!
Taken on the best section of singletrack.
I had heard rumors of a downhill trail here at Ridgeway, so I packed my downhill rig, just in case. As my downhill bike isn’t in the best condition at the moment, I didn’t spend a lot of time trying to find the downhill course. I figured that if I saw the trail on my cross-country ride, then I’d go and check it out. Well, I didn’t see it, but when I got home and looked at the reviews, I realized that I should have read GoldenGoose’s review before I left, as the downhill trail apparently doesn’t actually touch any of the cross-country trails, but is very close to the parking lot.
Perhaps that’s another reason to go back and visit, but I do need to do some maintenance on my DH sled before I return!
Woodring Branch: Amadahy Trail
After spending too much time riding and hiking around in circles at Ridgeway, I finally made it to Woodring Branch to check out the Amadahy Trail.
Both of these trails are on the shores of Carter’s Lake, but they couldn’t be more different! While Ridgeway was steep, old-school, and anaerobic, Amadahy was very flat, easy, and flowed like a water slide!
The singletrack featured a beautiful bench-cut design that circles a large knob right on the shore of Carter’s Lake. The tread was mostly smooth with a light gravelly feel and is very fast, but there were a couple of entertaining sections of rocks and roots to break up the action.
While Ridgeway only provided views of Carter’s Lake, if you took a detour off the main trail, Amadahy follows the shore of the lake for about two thirds of its length. There are stunning views of the blue waters around every turn, with many opportunities for gorgeous photos.
At only 3.5 miles long, I just had to do two laps on this trail. Even then, 7 miles didn’t feel like enough. This is a wonderful little gold nugget of a trail, but it certainly isn’t a gold mine. If you live relatively close and want to check this place out, I highly recommend it, but there’s just not enough trail to make me drive an hour each way to get here again.
Your Turn: Have you ridden a new trail recently? Which one was it?