A beautiful taste of the Talladega National Forest in Eastern Alabama. Rolling and playful with primo gravel, beautiful scenery and manageable elevation, this route is only 1.5 hours from northwest suburban Atlanta.
The Alabama Shake n Brake route is geographically compact, crossing over itself several times. One is never more than ten miles by bike from the starting point and the four way intersection of county roads 500 and 531 is passed twice – mile 21 and again at mile 31 – making it a convenient location to cache water.
Your view of this route depends on your perspective. Riders from Florida might be uncomfortable with the constant up and down while riders from the mountains may find welcome relief in the shorter climbs. Either way, the first six miles consists of series of unrelenting kickers before hitting a two mile paved sector on Rabbittown Road at the north end of the route. The longest climb of the route begins shortly after turning back into the forest, after which the route becomes more rolling and never really flattens out. Along the way, be sure to soft pedal through beautiful Pine Glen Campground located at mile 21.
Mile 25 begins a climb up to and along a ridge with views of peaks in the Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge across the valley to the west, especially in winter when the leaves are off the trees. The remainder of the route featured meadows, glens and cleared land typical of areas which have seen recent logging activity. A fast 2.5 mile hardpack descent leads to the final paved sector.
Expect good quality hardpacked surface with some loose gravel. The forest service may dump large amounts of gravel in short sections in advance of hunting season, especially in flood prone areas such as creek crossings so be aware if you ride in the late fall or winter. Otherwise, this route is well suited to fast gravel bikes and powerful riders able to muscle over the many short, punchy climbs.
- The Taladega National Forest is popular with hunters. Riding during hunting season is not a problem if you stick to established roadways. Just be aware of extra traffic during deer season and use common sense.
- Park at the Warden Station Horse Camp or the hunting check station across the road.
- County Road 61 is paved from Highway 78 almost all the way to horse camp.
- Vault toilets are available at the Pine Glen campground located at mile 21 on the route map.