This route comes recommended by Cartecay Bikes
of Ellijay, and for good reason. The ride uses all of the Bear Creek loop, and gives you the best of the downhill segments by using the P1 connector between upper and lower Bear Creek
. This is great forest riding that includes some rocky technical sections, stream crossings, and secluded doubletrack. Sights include the huge old-growth Gennett Poplar Tree, and a spectacular viewpoint that overlooks the surrounding Chattahoochee National Forest.
There are several bike-friendly accommodations in the area including camping (on this very route), B & B's in the surrounding mountains, and also at Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Get-A-Way
Start this ride at Forest Service Road 241 off of Gates Chapel Rd. Follow 241 up the road along Mountaintown Creek for approximately 1.9 miles where where you'll reach the Bear Creek parking area.
Stay left through the parking lot where the gravel road becomes trail. This section climbs moderately along the creek and has some rocks, but not many technical spots. Just past the parking lot the Pinhoti Trail merges from the left; stay right.
At 2.7 miles you'll reach the Gennett Poplar tree on the left of the trail and a good spot to pull off the trail and take a photo. Continue riding up the trail and turn right where the Pinhoti trail separates up the hill. This intersection is signed. The short section of singletrack does not get as much traffic as Lower Bear Creek.
When the trail merges with a doubletrack road (Upper Bear Creek), turn left here (later in the ride, youll be using this short segment again but turning right). After about .4 miles the Pinhoti will turn right; stay on the doubletrack and continue climbing. This grassy doubletrack road eventually comes to a fork. This ride stays right and follows an out/back to the Cohutta overlook. Staying left here starts the descent back and shortens the ride by 4 miles.
The route to the overlook is also considered Bear Creek Trail
. Initially, it is more of the same...a grassy doubletrack road. Eventually, the doubletrack leads you to a creek crossing, and an intersection with Potato Patch Road (FSR 68). Bear Creek trail ascends in switchback form up the embankment to the right. This route follows the road since it is easier work and quicker to get to the overlook. Youll be coming down the switchbacks on the return. Follow the gravel road up hill for about a half mile to the overlook and there youll find great views of the Chattahoochee National Forest, Fort Mountain and Chatsworth, GA. After you are done taking it all in, continue up the road to the Bear Mountain trailhead, which will be on the right.
The section from the parking lot to the bottom is fun singletrack with some rolling jumps, and technical switchbacks. When you get to the bottom youll be at the intersection with the road again. Cross the creek to the same doubletrack you took before.
At the bottom of the doubletrack youll be back at the T-intersection. Stay right and go around the gate and enjoy some good forest singletrack. This section has some fast sections and more creek crossings and switchbacks. Be ready to turn left again on the P1 connector between upper and lower Bear Creek
. This is a sharp left turn.
At the top of the climb take a right this time on upper Bear Creek and more doubletrack. After approximately 1 mile you'll go through a wildlife opening and the trail turns right and funnels into some singletrack. This final section of trail is some of the steepest and rockiest on the route. At the bottom, youll be at a large stream crossing of Bear Creek. Cross this, and head up the hill to the parking lot. To finish up, then take a left on FSR 241 back downhill to the start.
This trail is maintained by the Ellijay Mountain Bike Association, a Chapter of IMBA. There are many options for rides here including combining Bear Creek with the Pinhoti 1
, Pinhoti 2
, and Pinhoti 3
, which are local sections of the IMBA Epic long-distance Pinhoti Trail.