Need to Know
You'll need $5 (2018) or a State Parks Pass for parking.
Tsalaki Trail is the main road through Smithgall Woods State Park (no vehicles are allowed inside the park). Roughly the first half of the trail and a couple other particularly steep sections are paved, but otherwise the base is a gravel. The pavement ends in the heart of the park at a covered bridge that goes over Dukes Creek. The road then parallels Dukes Creek for about a mile. After you leave the creek, a couple of short climbs take you to the (locked) gate for the park on GA-75.
The road connects a number of short hiking trails (which are unfortunately off-limits to bikes). When you're back here on foot, Martin's Mine Trail features some of the area's gold mining history and the Cathy Ellis Trail goes down to a waterfall on the Alabama Branch.
Some history: Dukes Creek is where gold was first discovered in the area in 1828. The discovery of gold in this area is one of the factors that lead to the removal of the Cherokee Indians during the Trail of Tears in the 1830's. A U.S. Mint existed in Dahlonega a few miles to the southwest from 1838 until the start of the Civil War in 1861.