Six Gaps is a(n) (in)famous forest road ride in the North Georgia mountains. This ride features eight gaps! It is a great forest road loop to ride if the Bull Mountain trails are too wet or if it's freeze-thaw season.
After a climb up to Cooper Gap, you'll ride the main ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Georgia for about eight miles over to Winding Stair Gap traversing eight gaps along the way. Then you've got a speedy descent limited only by your courage back to your car.
Do keep an eye out for ambushes along the way (Army training ops in the area).
Wear orange if it's hunting season.
You can park at any of the parking areas along the loop; this one is nice because you don't end on a climbing note. You can of course run the route in reverse, but the climb up Winding Stair Gap Road FS77
is a steeper than the one up Cooper Gap Road FS80
Begin climbing to Cooper Gap on FS28-1
which turns into Cooper Gap Road FS80
at Camp Merrill. Camp Merrill is where US Army Rangers undergo "Mountain Week" training. It's a sustained five-mile climb to Cooper Gap, but the grade isn't too bad until right at the top so just grind it out. Once you reach Cooper Gap, a few climbs remain, but they're all shorter.
From Cooper Gap, continue left on Cooper Gap Road FS42-2
to follow the main ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains through Georgia until Hightower Gap. At Hightower Gap, continue straight (left) onto Blue Ridge Road FS-42
until Winding Stair Gap and the junction with Winding Stair Gap Road FS77
. From Cooper Gap to Winding Stair Gap, you'll cross Horse Gap, Mauldin Gap, Hightower Gap, Puncheon Gap, Coppermine Gap, and Deerlick Gap.
Winding Stair Gap Road FS77
is a fast, fun descent. There's not many places in the area where you can enjoy nearly four miles of uninterrupted descending. Seriously, once you leave Blue Ridge Road FS-42
, you probably don't have to pedal for the next three miles. You can go as fast as your courage allows! Do watch your speed in the corners though as you'll encounter the odd vehicle coming up the road. And the area is used for US Army Ranger training, so if you happen upon a practice ambush, just stop and the guys with M-16's will tell you when you can proceed.
When you reach FS28-1
, turn left to return to your car.