“Stanley Gap Trail #165 is the highlight of the Aska trails; this makes a good loop with some of the other Aska trails.
— Lost Justpastnowhere
This is some excellent north Georgia riding through the heavy forest of the Blue Ridge. The reward for the challenging climb from Stanley Gap to the top of Rocky Mountain is a 1000 ft descent over two miles on narrow singletrack with lots of roots and rocks to contend with.
An easier climb on the Green Mountain Trail #165D
followed by a quick descent on Long Branch Loop #165G
takes you back to your car.
If this hasn't been enough, you've got the option to include the Flat Creek Loop #165B
with more root-strewn singletrack and a few creek crossings.
This route starts at the Shady Falls parking area with a pavement ride south along Aska Road. A short diversion onto Flat Creek River Road avoids a small segment of Aska Road. After 2.5 miles, you begin a climb on Stanley Creek Road. The first two miles of Stanley Creek Road are also paved. This gives way to gravel but the real climbing also begins.
At Stanley Gap, turn right to begin the Stanley Gap Trail #165
following the signs for Stanley Gap Trailhead. The climb is aerobically strenuous but not too technical although there are a few root-strewn sections that you'll just have to power through or walk around. The climb is nice in that after every 50-100 ft of ascent there is a short, flat section that allows you to catch your breath a little.
The highest point on this loop is just below the summit of Rocky Mountain. There's a short descent and then one final climb before you reach a two-mile, 1000 ft descent. This descent begins at the point where the Benton MacKaye Trail breaks off to the north (unfortunately closed to bikes). The descent is filled with the same kind of roots and rocks that you encountered going up and it ends at the Deep Gap parking area.
From the Deep Gap parking area, cross Aska Road to the trail entrance on the east side. Here a lightly twisting wider singletrack begins a gentle ascent of Green Mountain. Shortly after you start descending, you'll reach an intersection with Long Branch Connector #165F
This takes you to the Long Branch Loop #165G
, the most tame loop in the Aska trail system. From the connector, a wide singletrack winds its way down Long Branch valley. Compared to the earlier segments of this loop, Long Branch Loop #165G
has minimal obstacles (roots and such).
If you're feeling really good on the way down from Rocky Mountain on Stanley Gap Trail #165
, consider a loop on the Flat Creek Loop #165B
, which you'll reach just before the Deep Gap parking area so you can sample all the trails in the Aska Trail system.