The adventurous 48 mile mixed-surface Talona Creek route is centered around the self-procliamed “MTB Capital of Georgia.” Elijay is more accessible to Atlanta than the far northern mountains and this route includes a little bit of everything, from bucolic country roads past orchards and wineries to gnarly and nearly off the grid gravel and even a bit of seldom used singletrack to keep things spicy.
The Talona Creek route is full of surprises and challenges making it a bit of an adventure. The route starts with a 15% grade almost right out of the parking lot. Gnarly gravel through the Rich Mountain WMA culminates with a singletrack descent where you may have to hop over some deadfall. In at least one spot the maps indicate a road where there is nothing but a footpath into the woods.
In between the challenges are miles and miles of gentle grades, beautiful views, apple orchards selling fried pies and cottages with couples waving from the porch. There’s even the Chateau Meichtry winery right on the route should tasting be your thing. Pinky out!
For those coming from Atlanta, the drive to Elijay isn’t as bad as say, the drive to Helen or even Dahlonega. The place is a hub for MTB activity and definitely has a bike friendly vibe. Just be aware that the town is flooded with tourists during the annual fall apple festival
Expect long stretches of well maintained gravel and quiet country pavement. There are a few sections of busier roads including 0.7 miles on Old Hwy 5 toward the beginning of the ride and the last mile on River St as you return to downtown Elijay. Ravens Cliff Rd is a notable gravel climb; less than a mile long but it hits 12% grade at one point. Check the Must Know section below for some areas on the route where turns are not 100% obvious.
- Heavy traffic and lots of tourists is an absolute certainty during the Georgia Apple Festival held yearly the first few weeks in October.
- Be aware of hunting season in the Rich Mountain Wildlife Management Area.
- Park in downtown Elijay, behind the Cartecay Bike Shop.
- The Elijay Coffee House makes excellent panini and is located right next door to the bike shop.
- There are two stores stops located a little bit off the route. The first is around mile 21 and the second is near mile 34. Again, pay attention to your GPS.
- The Chateu Meichtry winery at mile 24 has bathrooms and water.
- A left turn onto Reston Rd is indicated at mile 29.8. This really isn’t a road but a footpath into the woods and easy to miss. If you get to the T intersection with South Piney Spur then you have gone too far. Just follow the footpath into the woods and then follow the red line on your GPS. It eventually opens up and becomes really nice as it passes to the rear of some farms and orchards.
- Similarly, a right turn into the Rich Mountain Wildlife Managment Area at mile 40.1 is not completely obvious and it is easy to blow past it if you are going fast. The dirt road may be gated but it is easy to get around.
- Maps of the roads in the Rich Mountain WMA are not 100% accurate. The entrance to the singletrack trail will be located just past mile 43 and it may be completely overgrown and all but invisible. Have patience. follow your GPS and expect to backtrack at one point or another.