The 38 mile Emery Creek gravel route takes in all the North Georgia Cohutta Mountains have to offer. Expect a massive climb, a blistering descent, breathtaking vistas, and a fast finish.
Getting anywhere in the Cohutta Mountains requires significant effort but the steep climbs and sometimes chunky gravel are the price one pays for riding in such an incredible location only two hours from Atlanta.
One example is the climb to the fire tower at the top of Grassy Mountain which begins 8 miles into the route. It is relentless, gaining 3200 feet in 14 miles, but the last mile is lined with wildflowers and butterflies in summer.
Descents are limited by your willingness to go fast. Potato Patch Rd looses nearly 1500 feet in 3.2 miles. Average grade is -8.4%. Classic mountain switchbacks are interrupted by an obvious stop at an overlook. A less obvious stop is a cove one quarter mile further on the left – cool and moist in summer and lined with rhododendron, this is a great place to filter water and chat with the MTB riders as they drop off the Bear Creek singltrack onto the Pinhotti Trail.
Expect a mild start on eight miles of pavement followed by increasing intensity throughout the ride. The roads are hardpacked but aggregates can be chunky. This is eastern alpine wilderness so expect changeable weather. Don’t underestimate the difficulty of riding in the Cohutta Mountains.
- Terrain and elevation have a significant impact on temperature and weather in this area. Keep in mind that west facing slopes may not receive direct sunlight in the morning and can be chilly in winter. It can be significantly colder at higher elevations.
- West Cow Pen Rd and Potato Patch Rd are officially closed during winter and impassible to motor vehicles. The road will be gated at mile 16.5 through the end of Potato Patch Rd at mile 33. Automobile rescue will not be possible on this section during closures. Check the US Forest Service website for dates.
- Facilities at Lake Conasauga are typically closed during winter and water is not available. Again, check the US Forest Service website for dates.
- You will loose cell reception for much of this route.
- Parking at Emery Creek Trailhead on Old CCC Camp Rd is free but the small lot can fill up on busy weekends. There is ample parking off the road nearby.
- Water is available from many streams and creeks but filter before you climb Grassy Mountain.
- Water may be available at Lake Conasauga except during winter when the facility is closed.
- The nearest town is Chatsworth, approximately six miles to the west of the start.