“Like riding a bike” may be a euphemism for a skill not easily forgotten, but the ability to ride on pavement doesn’t exactly match the skills of riding on rough, uneven terrain. It’s equal parts exhilarating and terrifying. While considered more ‘laid back’ than the apparently uptight road cyclers, mountain biking is naturally socially distant and an excellent way to get a killer workout in a gorgeous natural environment.
Suwanee Creek Bicycles
First thing’s first: you’ll need to get outfitted with a bicycle. The experts at Suwanee Creek Bicycles can professionally fit you to your new bike to ensure a comfortable and effective ride. They sell everything from the essentials to the extra: accessories and goodies for customizing your ride, as well as helmets (pretty important) and full kits (i.e., padded shorts – also pretty important, if you enjoy walking normally). If you already have a mountain bike and you haven’t had one recently, consider a tune-up to make sure you’re in proper working order, cause things get pretty banged-up while mountain biking.
Next stop: somewhere to ride…
Chicopee Woods Mountain Bike Park
Located just outside of Gwinnett in Hall County, Chicopee Woods offers over 21 miles of cross country mountain biking adventure through a beautiful hardwood forest. Developed in the early 1990s, the trails range from old school rake-and-ride (i.e., someone went out with a rake and some limb loppers and made a trail) to machine-built contour trails. White Tail Trail offers a challenging, root-filled ride, while the smoother Flying Squirrel trails lets you feel the need for speed. Copperhead Gap will set your quads on fire, and Coyote Trail is great for tight and technical work. Consider leaving a donation to help fund maintenance and new trails – Chicopee is maintained entirely by volunteers. There is also a $5 parking fee at the Elachee Nature Center where these trails are located. The trails are open sunrise to sunset; gates close at 5:00 p.m. November through February.
Fort Yargo State Park
Located within the city limits of Winder, the 13-mile loop at Fort Yargo State Park has everything from beginner to advanced elements, plus lots of bypasses and shortcuts, making it perfect for all skill levels. The combination of fast flowing trails, tight corners, climbs and descents will take you through beautiful scenery and a few lake views. The loop goes clockwise on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, which means you’ll need to save a little energy for the aptly named Heart Attack Hill at the end. On the other hand, some say the Hill is exhausting if you’re not properly warmed up, so perhaps a counterclockwise day is no better. Park fees are $5 per car plus $3 per bicycle. Annual biker permits ($30 per family) and parking permits ($50) are available and good at all Georgia state parks.
Big Creek Park
A natural paradise located right in the middle of the City of Roswell, Big Creek Park features 6.8 miles of beginner through advanced singletrack trails. Known for its downhill and dirt jump-oriented trails, there are also a number of rock drops throughout the area and near-professional quality dirt jumps (including one pushing six feet high) running along the top of the ridge. The largest wooded park in the City of Roswell, this urban trail features two pump tracks and an incredible freeride area designed with expert level gravity riders in mind. Big Creek is also a trailhead for the 7.2-mile Big Creek Greenway.