Sure you can ride your mountain bike just about anywhere but there's nothing like riding miles of winding hand-built single track (just wide enough for one) through the forests of North Georgia. But where? Unfortunately, mountain bikes have been unceremoniously kicked out of public parks all over the Southeast for their tendancy to erode paths built for hikers and even collide with the hikers themselves. The solution? Well if you live in Woodstock Georgia, you wrangle your own park and build your own trail.
The Southeast Off-Road Bicycle Organization (SORBA) is responsible for the wildly popular Blankets Creek trail system that skirts Blankets Creek at the edge of Lake Allatoona. Other nearby SORBA projects include Atlanta's Morningside Nature Preserve trail that links Midtown Atlanta with Buckhead through a 30 acre forested trail, and Big Creek Park in Roswell.
Almost entirely built by hand by a team of volunteers, Blankets Creek Park is Cherokee County's only designated bike park and is proving itself to be one of the state's best rides. Right in Woodstock, just off Sixes Road, not too far from downtown and just 25 miles outside of Atlanta, the park draws over 100,000 bikes annually. Kids, men, women, families, couples, lone wolves, seasoned riders and even hikers all converge here for the great trails, a good workout and fun times.
The park has three short loops that let you choose your own adventure - from beginner trails to hair-raisers that demand technical skill. The group is currently building a fourth for a total of 16 miles of off-road goodness. The North Loop will be complete in spring 2008 and is going to bust the guts of all but the most experienced cyclists. With breakneck climbs and headlong descents, you really have to know how to handle your bike if you want to make it to the end of this four mile trail. Fortunately there's plenty of opportunity to train up.
The Mosquito Flats trail and the slightly more challenging Mosquito Bite Trail (1.3 miles total) are fun easy rides perfect for kids and beginners or to get your heart rate up before taking on the more challenging trails. Intermediate riders can try the Dwelling loop (3.5 miles) and advanced riders can try the South Loop (4 miles) for a steady stream of switchbacks, climbing, rock gardens, roots and log crossings.
Though all previous trails were built by hand with rakes, shovels and a lot of back-breaking labour, the new North Loop trail is being blazed by a mini-excavator. The main benefit is that the trail will be complete in less than half the time it would take to build it by hand.
Blankets Creek is located in Woodstock on the shores of Lake Allatoona. To get here, take I-75 north to I-575 north and take exit 11. Turn left on Sixes Road, go about 1.8 miles and turn left into the trail head parking lot. The park is open every day, but closed for rain. Check the trail direction before you begin as it changes daily. Admission is a 1 suggested donation.
WHAT TO BRING
- A helmet. You can't ride the trails without one.
- Tool kit and tire pump
- First aid kit
- Water and snacks