This loop is what Issaqueena is all about. Rocky fire road climbs, technical descents, creek crossings, tight and twisty switchbacks, and gut-wrenching singletrack climbs.
The parking lot at the shelter is closed during the winter.
Starting at the Holly Springs parking lot, the trail is located across the creek (towards the main road) and to the left.
Follow the first short section of twisty singletrack to the first fireroad (Grinder) and start going up (left). A little after the pine tree field, the rocks start. Ride through the rocks for a while and the singletrack enters to the left.
This section features some fun twisty downhills and a creek crossing. Narrow handlebars are beneficial.
At the end of the singletrack take another left on the fireroad and start climbing again. Go straight at the first fireroad intersection, and at the bottom of the hill, take a sharp left. Climb for a while and when the fireroad splits, go up to the left. After you go through the field, the road narrows. Be on the lookout for the trail to the left. (If you reach the gate, back-track less than .25mi and the trail will be to the right.)
This section of trail (called Pig Horse
) will test your downhill handling skills. You can pick up a lot of speed, but beware, most downhills end in a slow hairpin. You'll then be challenged with two technical creek crossings following by lots of rocks. After the brutal climb, the trail ends up on another fire road. This time go right, and shortly after turn right on-to the steep downhill singletrack.
After another fast downhill, you'll cross two creeks and start heading back up. A trail will fall down to the left once you reach the top, take this trail. When it flattens back out, there will be another trail to the right, but go straight. In the clearing, you'll be at the top of Grinder fireroad (it will be to the left). This is just a reference road, instead of turning left, go right into the woods.
Follow this old road bed for a while until it bends around to the right (almost u-turn). Shortly after this, up the gravel a ways, take the left on the singletrack trail through the small pines. When you reach the end, take an immediate left and follow the road around to the right.
Another section of singletrack enters on the left again off the blacktop and into the pines (if you reach a gate you have gone too far). Follow this twisty singletrack till you reach the old road bed and take a right. This trail will also end on the black top and take the obvious left. Continue straight (no turns) and over the gravel jump at the end of the straight-a-way where it turns back into singletrack. Follow this trail till its end, finishing back at the shelter.
This loop is raced for Xterra, Tiger Rag, and Clemson Cycling Team's collegiate race.