Rolling, Hills

The 39 mile Murder Creek and 60 mile Double Murder gravel routes meander through pecan groves and past country churches on the rolling back roads of middle Georgia’s Jasper County. The start is less than an hour from downtown Atlanta but it feels a world apart.

This is country. Farming, fishing and Sunday services are ways of life. Periwinkle and chimneys mark where homes once stood. A passing cyclist is the most excitement many dogs have had in weeks. Food is fried. Everyone waves. The Murder Creek and Double Murder routes meander through this physical and cultural landscape but start less than an hour from the hustle of downtown Atlanta.

Both options start at Margery Lake in the Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center located a few minutes south of the small town of Mansfield. Both extend south into what is often called the Heart of Georgia and share the same roadways on the outbound and return legs.

First and last pedal stroke are on Murder Creek Church Rd. Murder Creek itself spans nearly the entire county and one can’t help but wonder how the creek got its name or why anyone in their right mind would name a church after it. Historian Larry Smith believes, “The truth of Murder Creek’s name is still unknown” but that hasn’t stopped the stories.

By night the Colonel and his men were settled in and out of sight and the scoundrels camped across the creek near the trading trail. As soon as the Colonel’s party went to sleep with their saddlebags, full of silver, under their heads and their guns against a tree, the wretches from the other side of the creek slipped in and seized all the guns and killed all of them, dividing the booty.

A few kickers are scattered about but don’t expect sustained steep climbing on the short option. Terrain becomes genuinely hilly after mile 35 on the long option so expect more time in lower gears if you opt to ride long. Either way, riding in Middle Georgia is a nice change of pace for those who frequently find themselves grinding it out further north in the mountains. Here you can stretch your legs.

Gravel in the WMAs is almost always well groomed by the US Forest Service. Gravel maintained by the county can vary considerably, from smooth and fast to rough and washed out to fresh chunk. Jasper County leaves their road maintenance machines scattered about the countryside and evidence of their activity is clearly visible as one rides. Enough pavement is thrown in to take the edge off.

Finding store stops in this area can be a challenge so bring extra bottles or a hydration pack when it is hot. This is particularly true of the Double Murder route which lacks a store stop until mile 50. The good news is that the stop is impressive – very clean and featuring a Subway sandwich shop, grille, five kinds of coffee, fresh fruit, pickles and a large variety of drinks. Filtering water is always an option – few streams are crossed along the way and the Double Murder route passes the Ocmulgee River near mile 39. You may be tempted to try the Sack-O-Suds store made famous by the movie My Cousin Vinny but as of March 2020 it has seen better days and was closed. The location is on the map in case you want a photo.

Keep an eye out for wildlife on these routes. Fish can be seen jumping out of the many ponds and lakes on the last five miles of the routes. A pair of herons were nesting at Shepherds Pond during Spring 2020. Hawks soar above and you will hear critters scurry into the brush as you ride past. Many interesting old cemeteries dot the landscape including the final resting place of Civil War veteran William Walker Allen located at mile 7.2.

An 83 mile Triple Murder route, which ventures into the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge is linked below but this route is not tested. Post a comment if you ride and let everyone know how it works out.

  • Middle Georgia roads can be hot and very dusty in summer.
  • Portions of both routes lack tree cover so don't forget sunscreen.
  • Dogs are ubiquitous in the south. Consider pepper spray.
  • Parking pro tip from contributor Olen: When driving in your GPS will lead you to the clubhouse on Elliot Trail. Don't park there! Elliot trail is gated and not always open. Your car might get locked in. Check out Olen's comments below.
  • Do park at Margery Lake on Murder Creek Church Rd where the route starts. Some maps call it Boyle Murder Lake. There is plenty of room to spread out, a porta-potty near the fishing dock and parking is free.
  • Camping is available near the start.
  • The nearest town with full services is Covington which is located approximately 15 miles north of the route start along the I-20 corridor.
  • One store stop is indicated on the map - mile 29 on the Murder Creek route and mile 50 on the Double Murder route.

Terms of Use: Use of this route is at your own risk. This route map and associated route descriptions are believed correct at the time of publication but accuracy cannot be guaranteed. You assume all responsibility for 1) checking weather and road conditions, 2) knowing and obeying land use rules and restrictions, 3) knowing and obeying all rules of the road, 4) carrying and using proper safety and navigation equipment and, 5) knowing the limits of your physical ability., contributors and Timothy Hollingworth are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other loss to individuals following this route or using information contained in the route map or description.


Add yours

  1. Despite Double Murder being only 50 percent more miles than Murder Creek, it was 100 percent more fun. The fresh chunk Tim H. noted in the comments had been packed down by the time I got there, so that was a nice bonus. There was definitely some climbing, my GPS clocked it at a little over 4,000 feet, but nothing terribly steep, a refreshing change from north Georgia. I rode this solo and it gets pretty remote – I would recommend taking a riding buddy. As mentioned by others, bring plenty of water, the store stop at mile 50 is very nice, but it’s at mile 50. I’m looking forward to riding triple murder and reporting back.

  2. Without a doubt, this area is my new favorite and I’ve created about 6-7 routes from 40-55 miles that are variants of all the best gravel surfaces the area has to offer. I can’t believe that it took me this long to discover this area though. It’s truly the most diverse and accessible gravel area the metro Atlanta region has to offer. Thanks for being the impetus to my obsession!

  3. I’ve been lurking on this site for six months or so, but hadn’t had a chance to check out any of the rides you posted. I was finally able to ride Murder Creek recently and thoroughly enjoyed the route. The gravel was nice and smooth in most places, with only limited applications of fresh chunk filling in some pot-holes here and there. I liked how isolated and out of the way it seemed, despite being only an hour from downtown Atlanta. This is a fast, flowing, and fun route – I rode a little more cautiously than normal since I was on my own and it was my first time on the route. The average temperature on the ride was about 86 degrees and I went through two liters of water, so come prepared in the warmer months. I also saw several deer, two of which crossed in front of me, so be alert for large fauna.

    Parking pro tip: continue on Murder Creek Church Road past the closed gate and there is parking at the beginning of the route by the lake. My GPS directed me to the park entrance that is only open from 8:30 – 4:30 Monday through Saturday, so being unfamiliar with the area, I parked at the multi-use trail lot and just rode down Murder Creek Church Road and onto the route.

    Thanks for putting the site together, the ride reviews are extremely helpful and I like the wide variety of routes.

    1. Hi Olen

      Thanks for taking the time to share your experience! The words, “thoroughly enjoyed the route” are literally what keeps this site going.

      It’s interesting how gravel road conditions change so rapidly. What was chunky and rough can become smooth and packed in a few months later. Then logging trucks come through or the county pours fresh gravel and the roads change character again.

      I’ve updated the parking information with an “Olen pro tip” based on your feedback. It means more to me than you know.


  4. Tim – nice route and great riding but we did a 30 mile version. Happy to share that version if you’d like. The Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center is a really nice complex and you can make a full day of it if you like fishing, archery, shooting, camping, etc. We brought sandwiches, beer, etc. for a nice after ride meal across from the parking area under a picnic shelter w tables. Nice relief from a hot day. Would be interesting to connect Murder Creek w Red Clay Ramble / Sac O Suds / Fried Green 50 dirt roads. Thanks for sharing the routes.

    1. I’m glad you were able to adapt one of the routes to your needs. That you enjoyed yourself is the fuel which keeps this site running. I 100% agree about the Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center and will probably camp there next time I ride Murder Creek. Sounds like you had a great day and I wish you many more.

    2. Being a complete novice to gravel riding, I would love to start off with your 30 mile route (and eventually work my way to the longer routes). Would you mind sharing your route?

      1. That’s what this site was created for – great routes. Please share. Life is too short to let pride get in the way. If someone finds a great route and has fun, especially in this upside-down world, then I’m happy. Let’s have more joy, not less.

  5. The following text was received via email from Brian R of Atlanta GA and is posted with his permission…

    First and foremost, the route was incredible yesterday. Thank you for the time that you put Into your website. Without a doubt, it has the most comprehensive southeast cycling routes out there.

    In regards to double murder route, I would tell our fellow cyclists not to underestimate it. The terrain had a lot of new chunk which proved to physically and mentality fatiguing. I would estimate that it was at least 75% gravel. Thankfully we both rode on 40mm tires that took some of the edge off. We should have taken your advice to bring more fluids. Both Graham and I had two bottles each which we went through fairly quickly. The store at mile 50 was a godsend. Even though the temps were seasonably cooler, the open exposure made it feel like we were riding in the middle of summer. This should be on every GA gravel cyclists bucket list as it truly is unique southern gem.


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