Located at the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, the Bull Mountain
and Jake Mountain
trail network includes more than 50 miles of great riding, including an IMBA Epic route that covers a good chunk of the trails. You'll get little bit of everything - red clay singletrack, loose rocks, take-off-your-shoes stream crossings, and some steep, sustained climbs.
The ride can be done in either direction. To enjoy a big descent at the end of the route, considering riding counter-clockwise from either of the main trailheads. You'll have to tackle the Bare Hare
climb late into the ride but you'll be rewarded with a long downhill on Bull Mountain
trail to finish this Epic.
The trail network is multi-use and is heavily used by equestrians. When you encounter horses on the trail, stop and talk to the rider as they pass you.
It's useful to take a map or the MTB Project mobile app along for the ride as there are multiple intersections with other trails and roads.
Starting at Bull Mountain
trailhead, ride counter-clockwise on the Bull Mountain Connector
towards the Jake Mountain
trails. The trail is a great start to a long ride with a lot of contouring and little climbing. The corridor is a mix of pine and hardwoods that hug the trail with a few sections of tight turns.
The trail will cross a road and then climb slightly. The surrounding forest opens up through this section. Big trees and red clay singletrack is the best way to describe it.
Stay left at the intersection where the trail accesses Jake Mountain
Trailhead. From here, you'll be on the Jake Mountain
trail. There is a slight climb and then a big, fun swopping descent into Jones Creek. Take off your shoes and carry your bike here. The pedal out of the creek bottom is steep so shift accordingly before getting back on the bike.
There are a few confusing intersections from here to Black Branch
. Avoid lefts (stay straight). Access to the trail is from the end of the Beaver Pond section where you take a sharp uphill right, another right on USFS Rd 28A and then left to start Black Branch
. This trail has been newly renovated section that makes up the eastern part of the Epic route.
Descending the backside of Black Branch
is slightly downhill and filled with rubbly sections. Keep yourself relaxed. Stay right when this part of the route intersects USFS Rd 28.
Look for the gate and ride through it to access No-Tell
, a mostly doubletrack section that climbs, descends and climbs again. When the climb tops out and then starts to roll flat, look for Nimblewill Branch on the left.
Nimblewill Branch is straightforward and pretty much straight down, a little rutted and a lot rooty. At the bottom, turn right onto USFS Rd 77A. Settle in for a good stretch of road that climbs and then descends gradually. Towards the end, the road with bend to the left and you'll enter a developed area with campground and picnic facilities. It's a great place to grab a snack and sit by the creek.
Continue on the road uphill and the descend towards another section of the creek. Don't cross and take a left past the gate. Keep right at the fork which puts you on Bare Hare
trail. Bare Hare
is a long forest road followed by singletrack, nearly all of which is uphill. When you get to the intersection with Bull Mountain
keep right and enjoy a well-earned downhill.
The descent down Bull Mountain
comes in two parts. The first is downhill with a wider corridor and ends at the intersection with Whoop-De-Doo. Stay straight here and start the second part, a tighter and twistier section with roots and rocks. The bottom portion of singletrack opens up again and contours down to the Bull Mountain