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Coldwater Mountain Big Loop

Difficult
 5.0 (2) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A sometimes punishing but always fun tour of the CWM trail system; get all the flow, climbing, and rocks.


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Map Key

28.1

Miles

45.3

KM

100%

Singletrack

1,649' 503 m

High

736' 224 m

Low

2,925' 892 m

Up

2,932' 894 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (2°)

31%

Max Grade (17°)

Dogs Unknown

E-Bikes Unknown

Features -none-

Overview

This is a full tour of the trail system as of Summer 2019. It's rocky—sometimes very rocky. Come prepared. Tubeless highly recommended.

Description

Head out from the Coldwater trailhead and get ready for a rocky few hours.

On Baby Bear, Mama Bear, Papa Bear, and Cassidy follow the trail markers pointing to the Bomb Dog downhill. This is a fun and relatively easy way to get started, but we're talking about Coldwater Mountain, so there's still a fair share of rocks, sometimes decent sized ones. The climb up Cassidy is gradual and shouldn't be too tough, but it's enough to get the heart pumping.

At intersection 'H,' instead of going right towards Bomb Dog, head left on Talladega. The climbing will continue for a little bit on this trail and things can get pretty rocky and tough in a couple of different sections but pedaling hard will get you through. When you come to Stebbins Road, continue across it on Talladega and hold on tight as things get flowy and rocky. The numerous medium sized rocks scattered everywhere in this section will challenge handling skills, especially at speed.

The exceptional flow of Trillium and Hare come next. There's far fewer rocks than before so let it rip and be ready for some air time.

At intersection 'Q,' look for two-way trail Power Trip and get on it. After about 0.5 miles, you'll come to the intersection with Oval Office and the new NICA Course. Head onto the NICA Course by taking the trail Radio Gaga. You'll be treated to some fun, quick ups and downs with nothing really technical in the way on this newest section at CWM. At the bottom of the hill, you'll see a couple of trail markers, follow the one marked with 'TH' and begin a gradual climb back up to where you started. Head back on Power Trip to intersection 'Q' and finish the last remaining downhill section on Hare headed to the Anniston trailhead. At the trailhead, catch your breath and get ready for the climb up Tortoise. As with most of the ascending at CWM, Tortoise is a gradual climb, but it's almost 3 miles long so it can feel much worse than it actually is depending on how good your legs are.

When you get to intersection 'R,' get on Chilhowee and head east until you're back at Oval Office. This is a one-way trail and the entrance and exit are right next to each other. There are some great chances for speed on this loop, and air time is there for the taking if that's your kind of thing. The small and medium sized rocks are littered all over the trail surface here, a handling test for riders of any skill level. Once at the bottom of Oval Office you'll have to climb your sorry behind back out, and get back up Chilhowee as well. For my money this is the toughest bit of climbing at CWM. It's not overly technical, but it is sustained with some bigger rocks to clear and plenty of switchbacks to navigate.

Stay on Chilhowee, keeping left at intersections 'R' and 'S' until you come to Bull Frog. Follow this trail to Rock Slot and continue until you get to the trail fork with Gazza. Turn left onto this advanced trail, the toughest at CWM. If your legs aren't dead yet they might be after picking your way through the numerous large rock gardens and carefully choosing your lines through some treacherous downhill.

Emerge on Bomb Dog and get rewarded for all the strenuous work on Gazza with some great flowing downhill. Again, be ready for the rocks when you're going fast as this seems like a great place to wipe out. Bomb Dog ends with a gradual climb back up to the parking lot that can be deceptively tough if this ride has pushed you to your limits.

Contacts

Shared By:

Stephen Dobek with improvements by Barry Croker

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 2 votes

#942

Overall
  5.0 from 2 votes
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#10

in Alabama

#942

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Photos

Cody Kelly and Eric Porter sampling the goods on offer at Coldwater Mountain.
Apr 18, 2017 near West En…, AL
An IMBA video to showcase trails in this region and their Trail Solutions team.
Oct 8, 2013 near Bynum, AL
Small jump on Hare.
Feb 24, 2014 near West En…, AL
A panoramic shot of the famous Bomb Dog switchberm.  Cheaha Mountain (the highest point in the state of Alabama) is in the background.
Jun 17, 2013 near Bynum, AL
A view of the Talladega trail after the trail's only switchback.
Feb 24, 2014 near West En…, AL
Great fall day, November 2012
Apr 30, 2013 near Bynum, AL

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