Monday, December 27, 2010

Frady Branch "Trail" System, Toccoa, Georgia

One of the narrowest trails at Frady Branch
According to Jim Parham's guidebook, there used to be about 6-8 miles of singletrack in the Frady Branch Trail System, so I went and rode it. Singletrack? Not hardly! Maybe there used to be singletrack there, but as of November 26th, don't expect to find a single truly narrow trail.

Instead of singletrack, I found trails of 4-6 feet in width that looked as if someone had taken a skidder or bulldzoer through the woods and tried to put in a freaking freeway. Due to the soft nature of the trail surface, the freshness of the machine tracks, and the way the blade had cut into the side of the hill and deposited dirt on the downhill side, I concluded that this machine work had happened less than a month ago on some of these trails.

One of the many nasty, bull-dozed trails at Frady Branch
There is a good chance that at one time there had been quality singletrack here, and that it had recently been bull dozed over as some sort of type of "repair" to fix washed out spots. Well, I can tell you and whoever authorized these "repairs" that your "trails" are going to start washing out with the spring rains. Many of the sections on the steeper hills needed to be rerouted with more bench cut trails and grade reversals. Instead, the dozers went basically straight up and down the hills at an incredibly steep angle. The only erosion control features were a couple of waterbars placed at random intervals, which I find to be a highly ineffectual way to control erosion over the long term. 

Mark my word, unless someone is constantly maintaining these trails, some of the hills will be washed into nasty gullies in the space of 5 or 10 years.

The Plus Side
On a more positive note, Frady Branch does have two redeeming factors. The most prominent is the abundance of historical sites that can only be accessed by bike, horse, or foot. There are numerous old home sites located here in the Lake Russell WMA as well as several sizable cemeteries of over 40 graves just hidden away in the woods.

One of the cemeteries
A grave of some sort in yet another cemetery.
And yes, I looked in through the little whole to see if there was a skeleton
in there:there wasn't. These rocks must just be placed above where
 the body was buried.
The gated forest roads are the second redeeming factor. Consisting of hardpacked dirt with a few rocks, they are fast and hard with several rollers to catch some air off of. 

Bottom Line:
I had more fun on some of the forest roads than I did on the "trails." But if you are in the mood for a ride through history, then you might find Frady Branch enjoyable.

Well-signed "trails"

Navigational Resources
Jim Parham's Off the Beaten Track: North Georgia is a good guide to this route, and the National Geographic map #778 also includes this trail.

The Route

This area is an interconnected trail system, but riding around the perimeter of the trails is a pretty good workout. While the system is well signed, I still recommend carrying the map mentioned above.

Getting There

Getting to the Trailhead:
From Toccoa, head out of town on Currahee Mountain road. Cross straight over 17, and turn left on 184 after 0.5 miles. The trailhead will be on your right 2.5 miles after you make the left hand turn onto 184.

It would be good to note as of November 2010, the trailhead is still closed off. So, I would recommend the following:

Getting to the Upper Trails:
Instead of turning left onto Hwy. 184, continue up the hill and take a left on the gravel Currahee Mountain road near the historic marker. Drive up there until you reach 62A. Park there and start riding.

Your Turn: Do you have more information that needs to be included, or do you have information on new developments since I originally posted this review? If so, please leave a comment and help keep this post up-to-date and as useful as possible.


steve,  January 7, 2011 at 8:45 AM  

Thought this might interest you...

Our January SORBA meeting will be Thursday, January 13th.  The meeting will be at 6:30PM at El Campesino.  We will discuss the future of Frady Branch, as well as vote on a couple matters.  Hope to see you there!

Dustin Mealor
UC3 SORBA President

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