Starting in the alpine city of Helen, Georgia, metric, fondo and century options feature iconic paved climbs and gravel ascents to remote mountain peaks. On some days you can literally ride up into the clouds. Over 135 ft/mile climbing make the Pinnacle routes some of the most difficult one day routes in the state of Georgia.
Those familiar with the Six Gap Century held yearly in North Georgia will recognize some of the climbs – Hogpen, Wolfpen and Jacks Gaps. All three routes add significant additional climbing on gravel forest service roads making these routes all day climb-fests. if you have the legs, all three also offer the 17% grade to the highest point in Georgia, Brasstown Bald. “Did you ride your bicycle up here?” will be asked more than once.
Bring low gears. The three route options are:
62.7 mi/8978 ft
76.7 mi/10,564 ft
102.3 mi/13,750 ft
The Pinnacle routes start in the city of Helen Georgia, known for its Tudor architecture, fudge shops and excessive alcohol consumption. From there you will ascend to the share the landscape with sports cars and Appalachian Trail thru hikers. You may spot a Ferrari or Lamborghini on the twisty mountain roads and the routes cross the AT at least three times including near the remote and desolate summit of Tray Mountain. “You will be climbing for the next hour” explained one rider.
There are no bushwhacks or singletrack trails on these route. Expect paved roads and gravel forest service roads of reasonable quality. There are two water crossings on Helton Creek Rd – the first if of little consequence but you may get your toes wet on the second. Either of the three routes would make excellent two day bikepacking getaways.
- This is an eastern alpine environment and weather can be changeable. Plan accordingly during shoulder seasons.
- Tourist traffic can be heavy on weekends in summer and during autumn leaf season.
- Cell phone reception is not guaranteed, especially on Tray Mountain and in the remote sections west of Coosa Bald on the long option.
- Vehicular traffic is restricted to the parking lot just below the summit of Brasstown Bald. This includes bicycles. You can however, lock your bike and walk to the summit or take the shuttle.
- Public parking is available at the start location indicated on the route maps. Cost is $5/day.
- Streams and creeks are plentiful throughout the route but plan to filter before you climb.
- Water may be available from the spigot behind Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Mountain Scene.
- Trail angels often leave gallons of water at trailheads for the Appalachian Trail. Look for these just off the road at the top of Hogpen Gap and Unicoi Gap.
- Sunrise Grocery is the only convenience store on either of the three routes. There are vending machines at the parking lot below the top of Brasstown Bald.