BLUE RIDGE, GA
The Coopers Creek route is set in the heart of North Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. The 58 mile loop contains long stretches of gravel along pristine trout streams, impressive views of the mountains and a seven mile descent to the finish. The area is a mecca for road and gravel cycling. If you only do one gravel ride in the North Georgia mountains, the Coopers Creek route should be on your list.
The Coopers Creek route is perfect example of North Georgia gravel cycling. SoutheastCyclingRoutes.com has several routes in the same area including Gravel Reaper, Nimblewill Gap and The Tocoa Swinging Bridge but the Coopers Creek route stands out for its wide variety of terrain, interesting features, nicely placed store stops, scenic paved sectors and tons of gravel fun.
The route starts with views of the surrounding mountains as you warm up on a couple of paved rollers. A few country homes are passed as the route enters the woods before encountering what is arguably one of the highlights of the route. The “Sunken Jeep Road” is a bizarre, unmaintained 4×4 road which has eroded into the surrounding land. The road eventually comes up for air but the rough surface continues for a few miles until a creek crossing signals the return to more genteel riding. Along the way there’s an opportunity to visit the cable suspended “Swinging” footbridge over the Tocoa River as indicted on the map.
The route reaches the Coopers Creek Scenic Area around mile 14. It’s a SoutheastCyclingRoutes.com favorite! The area would make an outstanding weekend getaway and the riding here is sublime. You will soft pedal along pristine Coopers Creek, climb over a gnarly little ridge and test your cornering skills on the descent, and return to pavement after nearly 15 miles of primo gravel. Several shorter loops are possible for those willing to study the maps. Speaking of maps, its easy to miss a turn in the Coopers Creek area so pay attention to your GPS.
Wolfpen Gap Rd is a nice change after so many miles in the woods. The road was used in the Tour de Georgia and it’s easy to imagine the peloton hammering through the scenic valley. The road is heavily traveled by road cyclists and catching a wheel on the way to the Suches Store at mile 33 isn’t out of the question. Motorcyclists also love the place so a blinky light is highly recommended.
21 miles of uninterrupted gravel finish the route. The first six might be some of the finest gravel in Georgia…
“I think my favorite part must have been that stretch of Blue Ridge Road coming back towards Coopers Gap from Suches. It’s going to be absolutely gorgeous once the leaves come off the trees. Never seen a road just benched into the side of the mountain for so many miles.”SoutheastCyclingRoutes.com contributor Greg Hanchar
Slow down and look for the Ward Creek waterfall approaching mile 41. It’s set back on the right at the bottom of the hill and easy to miss if you are going fast. The photo op is a perfect excuse to pause and catch your breath before the final miles. Climbing intensifies from the waterfall to the high point on the route at Coppermine Gap (3291 feet). By this point your legs will likely be complaining – remind them that the route finishes with a seven mile descent along Noontoola Creek.
Don’t be surprised if you encounter the US Army Rangers while riding the final gravel sector of the Cooper’s Creek route. Camp Merrill is in the vicinity and the Rangers use the rugged terrain for mountain warfare training. You will sometimes hear Blackhawk helicopters flying to and fro and the army has been known to block a road during training exercises but only for a few minutes.
Check the Parking & Logistics tab below for important information about the route start. Also check the comments section below for community updates and don’t forget to add your own update if you ride this route!
- The Coopers Creek area will attract lots of visitors on typical holidays. Expect extra traffic if you ride on Memorial Day, Labor Day, 4th of July weekend, etc.
- Surfaces can be extra chunky in advance of hunting season when the National Forest Service lays down new gravel.
- Ridges, peaks and north facing slopes can feel much colder than the surrounding valleys in winter. Much of the route is shaded with little opportunity to ride in the warm sunshine during colder months.
- Afternoon thunderstorms are common during the summer to keep your eye on the sky as best as you can.
- Deer frequently run across Big Creek Rd and Doublehead Gap Rd to the west of the start. Keep an eye out if you drive this way to the start from Elijay.
- Its a good idea to check the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest Alerts & Notices page for road closures and other important National Forest information prior to heading out.
- Parking is at the Fellowship Baptist Church on Doublehead Gap Rd. You may have to find alternate parking on the first and third Sunday of each month when the church is open. Keep in mind that the church is private property and try to park across the street on the grass.
- There are no facilities at the start location.
- The route has store stops at mile 11 and 33.
- The Suches Store stocks king size Chocolatey Payday bars!
Rode this loop May 19, 2022. It is a challenging ride, more challenging in my opinion than the Southern Cross route even though you do not have the Winding Stair Gap Road climb. There are three 4 mile climbs. They include some level and even slightly descending stretches, and they include some 10-12% stretches.
I rode on 2″ tires with rigid frame. My riding partner rode similar tires with hard tail. The descents with the rigid frame and the 2″ tires were quite bumpy. Unless you are looking to set a record a hard tail is a better choice for this route.
The store stop at the end of Wolf Pen Gap Road was welcome. I had an extra 22 ounce Gator Aid, a banana and we split a king size Payday bar there.
We had two flats and one spare tube. Fortunately the second flat was only 4 miles from the finish. Bring more than one tube.
I recommend this ride but be prepared for the journey.
Rode the full loop as referenced this past weekend. Have to say, one of the more scenic routes I have done in a while – truly stunning in areas. The gravel, however, destroyed me. Golf ball to Baseball sized baby-heads protruding from the ground are difficult to see and avoid on the descents making for some incredibly sore arms. Granted, I was on 38s – would recommend 40/42+ with sidewall tread. Really special loop but I was pretty wrecked after and the beer back in Elijay was a delightful retreat. The climbs were long and sustained but the solitude and scenery made it all worth it. Overall, really pleased with this ride – I’ll be back to ride (and camp) with some wider rubber soon. Would 100% recommend (with the right setup).
Rode this route yesterday, and it was great. The jeep trail at the beginning was a little challenging, with recent rain, but it just made it more fun. What a great route!
Rode Coopers Creek today and it was glorious. As mentioned in the description, this beauty has a little (or a lot) bit of everything. Bring your legs because you’re good to need them. Can’t wait to get back and give it another rip!
I need to get back up there.
The note about new gravel during hunting is spot on. Did the route yesterday and the extra chunk was brutal on 40’s.
A friend and I did it three or four weeks ago. Just had to power through mile 20 to 22 (ish). My buddy has a Cutthroat with 2.1’s and sill suffered. Totally worth it though 🙂