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5 state parks to mountain bike this winter
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Mountain biking in early winter, before the freezing temperatures, is one of the best times to hit the trails in Georgia, where thinning trees reveal beautiful scenery.

At Georgia State Parks, mountain bikers can also spend the night at the park’s accommodations, giving more time to enjoy the trails.
First-timers and advanced riders will find an array of trails to dirty up the tires. With gravel paths and single tracks, Georgia State Parks has options for all riders, but five of the best mountain-bike trails are highlighted here.

The Cloudland Connector Trail (CCT) is one of the least-known trails in Georgia State Parks. It starts in Cloudland Canyon State Park (Rising Fawn), but it extends for 21 miles out of the park and into Five Points Recreation Area, a multi-use trail system on Lookout Mountain. Terrain throughout the CCT is single-track trail, and mountain bikers will experience stacked boulders, rollers, jumps, steep slopes and even some coal pilings from the state’s historical mining practices.

Mountain bikers will scream down invigorating downhills, pass scenic overlooks of the North Georgia Mountains and bump over rocky single track on Fort Mountain State Park’s (Chatsworth) mountain bike trails. The East/West Loop tests endurance on 14.6 miles of trails, including a technical downhill section through a power-line alley. Riders who are fans of switchbacks will enjoy the 7-mile intermediate Cool Springs Trail, which winds back and forth down 800 feet of vertical descent.

What goes down must return, and many of these trails climb uphill for up to 3 miles. A $3 permit fee is required to ride these bike trails and can be purchased at the park office.
Equally appealing to both beginners and serious riders, the Yellow and Blue-blazed mountain bike trails at Fort Yargo State Park (Winder) are great for going fast. The trails are not too technical, and both loops are one-way directional based on the day, meaning mountain bikers can tackle the terrain in both directions. The most difficult section is Monster Mile on the Blue-blazed Trail. These trails are featured in adventure races such as the Xterra Dirty Spokes triathlon series.

The mountainous terrain and scenic overlooks at Unicoi State Park (Helen) make the exclusive 7.5-mile mountain-bike trail a top pick for experienced riders. A figure-eight loop crosses over both sides of Smith Creek. Because of the valley, expect long, tough climbs to test your muscle strength and endurance. The single-track trails cross technical, packed dirt with sharp turns and an exhilarating downhill where riders can reach 30 mph.

At Watson Mill Bridge State Park (Comer), three primary double-track trails feature fast, lengthy descents through canopied woods. Warm up on the Ridge Loop Trail, a 0.75-mile loop that crosses over Beaver Creek on the park’s iconic covered bridge. Then tackle the 1.5-mile Beaver Creek Trail loop, which follows the creek and ridge line through hardwood forests. The 2.5-mile Tons of Fun Trail is a mixed-use nature trail with a few steep sections. The highlight of the loop is when it passes by the Beaver Pond overlook.

Looking for an added challenge? Check off more than
68 miles of mountain bike trails at Georgia State Parks with the Muddy Spokes Club. The club highlights designated trails at 11 state parks. Trails range in difficulty from easy, predominantly gravel paths to difficult, single-track technical trails.

To join the Muddy Spokes Club, mountain bikers buy a $10 membership card, which they will get punched at the park visitor center after completing each trail. Cards are available at parks, by phone at 770-389-7401, or by emailing After completing all trails, mountain bikers receive a Muddy Spokes Club T-shirt.

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