The trails at Talking Rock Nature Preserve are pretty tame offering a nice introduction to the North Georgia Mountains for younger/newer riders or a nice change for those that have already endured a lifetime of climbing.
The trails are well-built with gentle descents/ascents and sweeping, sometimes bermed turns. You can really carry as much speed as you dare (just watch for hikers coming in the opposite direction). The area is a former pine tree farm though, so there is a lot of pine straw on some of the trails making it easy to lose traction.
Most of the trails in the preserve are directional with hikers traveling in the opposite direction. The GPX mapped here follows the Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday direction.
The ride starts at the Hub, hitting all the side loops in the preserve. The ride starts with the more difficult trails to the east, progressing to the easier trails west of the Hub. You'll pass the Hub several times, so you can take a break or add/remove loops according to your desires.
The route starts by climbing Nitro Nix North
. It's less than 200 ft to the top, and this is the biggest climb of the day. Nitro is a good introduction to the system with well-bermed turns, a couple of armored creek/water crossings, and a few switchbacks near the top. At the top, the loop first takes a descent on Grinning
is probably the most difficult trail in the preserve but the only obstacles are a few tight-ish switchbacks.
, head back up on Nitro Nix North
and take a descent on Pickens
. Overall, Pickens
is slightly easier than Grinning
with the exception of one short section where the trail narrows between 1-2 foot boulders. Both Grinning
are beginner friendly, but advanced riders will enjoy the opportunity to carry some speed on the bermed turns and through the switchbacks.
After the second descent, return to the hub and look for Nitro Nix South
. Nitro Nix South
is directional, so make sure to follow the direction for the day at the trail entrance. Nitro Nix South
is a relatively fast out-and-back beneath the pine canopy. Watch for loose pine straw in the turns.
Back at the Hub, the next loop is Jon Hudgens Trail
, which is also directional based on the day of the week. Jon Hudgens Trail
is similar to Nitro Nix South
with bermed turns and rollers to enjoy. There are a couple short climbs of less than 100 ft but the trail is surprisingly flat for North Georgia. This route takes the short Dragon Tail Downhill
spur which features a couple of table tops, deep dips, and 12-18 inch jumps. If that's not your cup of tea, just continue straight on Jon Hudgens Trail
to bypass the tail. Jon Hudgens Trail
takes you back to the Hub again.
The final trail segment is Fast Charlie's Loop
, which is also directional. Fast Charlie's Loop
runs down along a creek before crossing it on an armored section and then heads back up to the parking lot. It's a little narrower and a little more difficult than the Jon Hudgens Trail
. This trail passes mostly beneath a deciduous canopy in contrast to other trails at the preserve where pine predominates.