Monday, May 10, 2010

Winding Stairs (USFS roads), Dahlonega, Georgia

Climbing up Cooper Gap Road.
Getting There
Option #1:
Follow the same directions to get to Montgomery Creek:
From Dahlonega, head from downtown on Highway 60 (North Grove St.) past Lifetime Bikes. Go a couple miles past both of the schools, and then turn left at Camp Wahsega Road and then follow it all the way until it runs into Camp Frank D. Merrill. Turn left, and then left immediately into the parking lot of the white church. Park and ride from there.

Option #2:
Follow the same directions as those for Jones Creek Ridge. If riding from here, you'll get almost all of the climbing down immediately, and finish with most of the downhill:
From Dahlonega, Georgia head West out of town on Hwy 9. Take a right onto Hwy 52, and then 4.6 miles later take a right onto Nimblewill Church Road at the old Grizzle's Country Store. Pass the Jake Mountain parking lot sign, but take a right at the Bull Mountain sign. Continue right up FS 28-1 (don't take the left towards the Bull Mountain Trailhead) and drive until you reach the fork of FS 77 and FS 28-1. Park somewhere around there. Google Maps interactive trailhead location.

The Route
This is a popular 20 mile loop on gravel U.S. Forest Service roads.

From Option #2, head down the hill (the right fork when coming up from Nimblewill Church Road), FS 28-1. You'll be on this road for over seven miles, and during that time will climb past Camp Wahsega, past Camp Frank D. Merrill and Option #1 parking point, all the way to Cooper Gap at the top of the ridge. At Cooper Gap, bear hard left along the ridge. Keep bearing left whenever a road enters from the right, until you hit a big junction at Winding Stair Gap. Again, hang hard left and downhill (FS 77). Keep going straight until you reach your car.

Hopefully it doesn't take you that long.

Additional Navigational Resources

View of North Georgia
All About the Trail
Unlike the vast majority of the trails in my Trail Review Series, this is not a singletrack ride.  Rather, it is a grueling 20 mile gravel road loop that dishes up an insane amount of climbing for being located in the state of Georgia.  I'm including it here because it is included in Jim Parham's Off the Beaten Track and is a very popular local training loop.

Most of the climbing gets taken care of in the first 7 miles, but once on the ridgeline the road continues to go up and down, up and down all the way to Winding Stair Gap.  There is a LOT of vertical gain on this ride, so make sure to bring your climbing shoes!

The drop down from Winding Stair Gap is fast and furious, and is a total ball!  Despite the fact that it is a forest road, this descent is steep and pretty exposed, especially due to the insane speed that you can carry down it. This is a just the ticket after all of the work that's gone into the previous 15 miles.  So hang on and enjoy!

Bottom Line
This is a great gravel road loop with lots of climbing, a steep descent, and some ridge-line riding. It is ideal for training, and riding whenever the singletrack is too wet.

Beginning of the Descent

More Rides on this Trail:


Mark May 11, 2010 at 6:39 AM  

When are you going to get a monster crosser and really ride these roads? On a MTB this overkill but on a Monster it would be a blast, especially if you were fixed!

Greg Heil May 11, 2010 at 10:39 AM  

I don't know man, probably when someone hooks me up with a free one! But in all seriousness, whenever I do get one, I'm sure you'll be the first to know about it, haha!!

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Greg Heil is the Editor in Chief for He's been writing and publishing online since before blogging existed.

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