Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pinhoti: P3, Ellijay, Georgia (VIDEO)

Classic Bench-Cut Singletrack!
Rider: Jeremy. Photo: Me.
Several times I have lamented the absence of switchbacks on mountain bike trails in Georgia. Riding switchbacks is almost an art form due to the precise bike handling skills that it requires. I've found amazing sections of switchbacks during my rides in North Carolina, but I have never come across a truly inspiring set down here in Georgia... until now.

P3 contains numerous picture-perfect 180 degree turns bench-cut into the steep side of the mountain. These are switchbacks in the finest sense of the word!  After riding this trail, my heart has been put at ease: yes, there are switchbacks in the state. You just have to find them!

The Rest of the Trail

There is so much more to this section of trail than a mere couple dozen switchbacks, though. This portion of the Pinhoti contains a long descent that features narrow, swooping singletrack lasting over 6 minutes. Of course, it might last a little less if you rode faster. Or you could drag it out and make it last longer, but what would be the fun in that?

While the overlook is situated at a pretty high elevation and the end of the trail is in the bottom of the valley near a stream, don't be fooled into thinking that this is downhill the whole way. When we shuttled this, I brought my downhill rig along anticipating a high-speed bomb down to the truck. I quickly learned that that would not be the case, and I paid for my choice with some good-old-fashioned hike-a-bike.

Yes, the vast majority of the time you'll be descending, but there are one or two stiff climbs thrown in there. Bring your all mountain bike and your gears. Besides, 5" of travel is plenty for this trail.

Bottom Line:

Some of the best switchbacks and most exposed singletrack I have ridden in Georgia, coupled with a screaming fast descent at the end! If you haven't ridden this trail yet, add it to your wishlist!


This video is intended to show you the what the trail is like, and is not included here as an example of pure cinematic genius.

The Route

The P3 section of the Pinhoti runs about 4-5 miles from the Cohutta Wilderness Overlook on Highway 52 west of Ellijay down to old CCC camp road. This is a great trail to ride as a shuttle, but can be fun as an out-and-back as well.

Getting There

From Ellijay, drive out of town on Highway 52, heading West. Park at the Cohutta Wilderness Overlook which is just off of the highway on the right. The trail begins to the right of the Overlook's exit.


eastwood March 16, 2011 at 3:57 PM  

Looks like a fun, fast ride. Have you ridden it as an out-and-back?

Greg Heil March 17, 2011 at 6:27 PM  

No, I haven't done it as an out-and-back yet. Maybe sometime soon

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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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