Thursday, August 26, 2010

Big Creek Park, Atlanta (Roswell), Georgia

The Gully
The Big Creek Park / Recreational Area serves as an important bicycling hub in the Roswell community. I used the word "bicycling" on purpose, as it serves virtually every sort of bike-riding discipline.

Getting There
From GA 400, get off on Exit 7 for GA 140 W Toward Roswell. Head Southeast (left turn if coming from the North, right if coming from the South) a half a mile and take a left on Holcomb Bridge Rd. Go 0.4 mi and take a left on Old Alabama Rd. Big Creek will be on your left pretty quickly. There'll be a pretty nice sign out front, and most likely you'll see a ton of cars and bikes in the parking lot.

You can park in the initial lot, or drive down the gravel road a short ways and park in the lower lot right next to the bathrooms and the greenway.

The Route
Detailing one specific route at Big Creek is impossible. I will cover the area in detail below and attempt to include directional information as I do so, but it will be up to you to choose the best route after that. Don't worry, the trail signage is very thorough and will be sufficient to keep you from getting too turned around.

Road Biking
The Big Creek greenway is a very scenic cement path that is almost completely flat, but ideal for an easy ride on a road bike without having to deal with traffic. This would also be a great route for someone looking for a leisurely pedal on their urban cruiser, or for those who prefer to ride a recumbent bicycle. At roughly 6 miles in length (someone correct me if I'm wrong), it is ideal for an easy cruise, but if you're looking for a serious workout you'll either have to ride a ton of laps, or head somewhere else.

Cross Country Mountain Biking
The 6 or so miles of cross-country oriented singletrack trails of Big Creek are well-maintained, well-marked, and entertaining to ride. The trails are labeled with different colors based on their level of technical difficulty, so its easy to pick the trail that will serve your needs the best.

The black/advanced trails feature plenty of rocks, some log rides and other features, a few stiff climbs, and a couple of drop offs.

Most of the trails are directional, so check the signs and pay attention to what day of the week it is!

While the cross-country trails are pretty cool, Big Creek's true claim to Atlanta area fame are its downhill and dirt jump-oriented trails. From what I hear, there is really no other place in Atlanta with this kind of riding, and possibly only 1 other place in the state of Georgia with downhill-specific trails! There are about 5-7 different trails to choose from packed tightly together on a hill side located about a mile down the greenway. There are also a number of rock drops spread throughout the area, with 4 or so on the backside of the upper ridge dropping down towards a maintained park.

I've ridden my All Mountain bike down many of these trails before, and I've heard people say that they really don't live up to true downhill-oriented trails.  While that may be true, I know that I definitely don't feel comfortable on a 5" travel bike bike when:
  • pinning it (that means going completely balls-out high-speed for those not familiar with moto lingo) through the rock gardens containing mini boulders and 3 foot drops after many of the rocks
  • sending a 3 foot high booter to a super long landing (where you could get as much air as you want)
  • airing a 15 ft long table top
  • doing various rock drops ranging from 4ish feet to 7-8 feet
Bearing in mind that these trails are located in Atlanta, I'd say the terrain is pretty freaking sweet!

Full disclosure: I still don't feel comfortable completely pinning it through the big rocks, clearing the whole 15 foot table top, or dropping 8 feet even on my Taka yet.  I have sent the booter, ridden the rocks at pretty high speed, cleared the 7-10 foot tables, and dropped a 5 foot high rock, though. But there are still bigger, badder features for me to work up to!

Here is a teaser video of riding the Taka at Big Creek. Full-blown edit to come, complete with awesome 3rd person perspective shots, and sweet editing! Be watching for it to be done sometime in the next week or so. (This is about a 4-5 foot drop):

Taka at Big Creek from Greg Heil on Vimeo.

Part 2: Dirt Jumping and BMX riding at Big Creek!

Part 3: What Big Creek Still Lacks...

Your turn: Are there any places like Big Creek near you that are centers for all things bike related? Or if you live in Atlanta, what do you think of Big Creek?


Anonymous,  August 26, 2010 at 10:41 PM  

Looks like a fun trail, Greg. Man do I have fond memories of Atlanta - specifically Buckhead... was down there for a convention several years ago. Whoa! Party weekend top 5 of my life for sure.

Greg Heil August 27, 2010 at 12:21 PM  

Haha, nice man! Generally I dislike heading down to ATL... all the people and the traffic are not enjoyable to me. I'd much rather be lost in the deep forest, haha! But the jumps and stuff were worth the traffic on the drive.

Greg Heil August 29, 2010 at 8:41 AM  

So I may have said at the end of this post that the info on bmxing and djing was coming on Friday... well the Taka video finished, so that dominated friday, and the rest of Big Creek will be coming on Monday. Stay tuned then!

Unknown July 31, 2014 at 9:13 AM  

I thought their was bmx dirt jumps there. I've seen videos about it and they say they are at big creek park in Roswell Ga

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