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 the 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.
Both routes start and end on Murder Creek Church Rd. Murder Creek itself spans nearly the entire county. 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.http://themonticellonews.com/murder-creek-history-p5907-116.htm
A few kickers are scattered about but don’t expect sustained steep climbing on the shorter Murder Creek option. Terrain becomes genuinely hilly after mile 35 on the long option so expect more time in lower gears if you opt to ride the Double Murder. 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 – a 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.
Rode the 38 miler this weekend. sunny skies, 55-65 degrees. This is the Rolls Royce of gravel. Completed it in just over 3-hours, and we were pushing it. I was completely wrecked for the rest of the day.
Saw deer, many farm animals, a few curious dogs that did not chase or bark, and just a few cars on the paved parts. I loved this ride, and will do it again.
Thank you so much for this website.
First of all, thank you so much for sharing this route. It was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever ridden.
I’m not sure if it was my first time riding gravel ever, or if it’s actually the course, but boy did I have a tough time riding this yesterday. I rode my friend’s gravel bike with Vittoria Mezcal 2.1s at 40psi, and I could still feel every single rock that I was riding over 😄. All was more or less manageable except for this one climb that I had to walk about 30% of – I think about 20-25 miles in – where my bike just wouldn’t stand straight in a deep section full of big chunks of gravel. Downhills were fun but equally scary because I just couldn’t see straight due to all the vibrations. It took me about 3 hours to complete the 39 mile route.
I’m not sure if he’s a regular, but I also ran into an interesting gentleman near the lake at mile 36/37 – he tries reaching out via radio to other amateur radio stations in Georgia and beyond!
First of all, just wanted to express appreciation for this site. I’m a gravel newbie and excited about the idea of long rides in rural areas with no traffic. You guys have a ton of them and I’m eager to check more of them out.
My tops lessons from being a road rider and doing this route as my first-ever gravel ride and first ride on my new (used) gravel bike are:
(1) I’m so damn slow – took me an hour longer than the estimate!
(2) Gravel is a serious workout – core, arms etc.
(3) Group riding or self-sufficiency (food, tools, repair knowhow etc) is a must for a ride like this at least
(4) Especially if alone, a good GPS (I have a Garmin Edge 1030+) is super helpful for cues/navigation & looking ahead at upcoming climbs
Back at the parking lot I met a guy who said he & a group did this route 3x around (104 miles) in just twice the time I did it. There’s always someone faster, but wow that’s humbling. Good on em! Maybe I’ll get there…
I rode the triple last week. It’s a very good route, and I came in at a little over 79 miles by cutting out the store stop. The last half along the river is much more hilly than the first half, so you have to save some reserves!
I rode Double Murder as a bike packing trip Sunday and Monday of Labor Day weekend. Traffic was really light even with the holiday both days. The gravel conditions were great and the new scenery that you reach at the far end of the ride by the river is even nicer than the shorter ride. I camped in the national forest by the river at a bend in the Ocmulgee on a horse trail named “Swimming Hole Trail” on the ride with gps map. I got there at dusk and just had time to filter water at the actual swimming hole then went further on a short way to camp. It was a fairly long stretch on the trail to get back to the gravel road both before and after the camp spot. The way down was too sandy and loose to ride. The way back was better single track. Al this is off the actual ride but I mention it in case others want to camp by the river. I am interested in any ride reports on triple murder. So far I really love the riding out here. It’s the perfect amount of hills for me. In north ga you work like mad climbing and then can’t even really enjoy the downhill because your having to ride the brakes so hard. Here I barely had to break and it’s lots of rolling hills.
Thanks for the great info Bob! If you like Murder Creek then give the Fried Green routes a try. Its the same sort of terrain and starts/ends right at the river. https://southeastcyclingroutes.com/2020/fried-green-28-42-50/.
I rode Murder Creek yesterday and it was great. Mostly gravel with some nice breaks on the road. It feels like the road parts are more uphill which was welcome. I got a late start and it was really nice and shaded for the first half. Later I was getting full sun in more exposed sections and it got hot. I only had one dog encounter with a sort of border collie looking breed somewhere in the first half and he just chased a barked a short way and let me go on. I brought two water bottles and was thirsty by the time I got to the Marathon / Subway. That place was really nice and I got cooled off and ate. The rest of the ride was really hot but I had iced sweet tea water bottles from my Subway meal and it was fine. I was flying down the last rougher bumpy gravel and thought I got a flat but seemed ok the rest of the ride. When I got home my rear tire was real low but front was fine. This morning I had a slow leak in front also. I was running the lowest pressure 55 psi on fat tires. They were not pinch flats though. I think I just need to slow down on the descents some but it’s fun.
As always thanks for this site. This evening in Little Five Points I ran into a guy who said double murder was prettier but he didn’t like triple murder and he said it had more hike a bike. I am about to look into the camping rules in the park part of the ride. Thinking about doing double or triple as a two day bike packing loop. I told him you were looking for more input about triple murder here.
Besides all the pickup trucks speeding past and kicking up dust, it seemed like it could be a nice ride. Unfortunately, I flatted 2.5 miles in so I had to walk back. I will definitely try it again, but on an early Sunday morning.
The Murder Creek routes are generally very low traffic and I’m sure the additional vehicles must have been due to the holiday weekend. Sorry to hear about the flat and walk!
A friend and I took this on today – and it was nearly perfect! 78 degrees, a few pretty clouds in the sky… just a great day for a bike ride. I cannot really judge the gravel, as this was only my second ride. I’m learning – but Double Murder made me want to come back again and again! I will be back, and being somewhat insane – triple will LIKELY happen some day! This was a great ride.
There is a church at mile marker 22 on the right hand side that has water on the other side of the chapel. I got water there today and so far no side affects.. LOL..
Conditions on the Double Murder route were almost perfect. There were a few short sections of fresh gravel but most of the route was hardpacked and fast.
The two mile long descents on Dan Gunn Rd and Pye Rd were like an amusement park!
Margery Lake was busy and there were several other riders getting ready while I was there.
You can view my Strava ride at https://www.strava.com/activities/4868952371.
Double Murder was harder than I expected.
I enjoyed the ride yesterday on February 7, but it took me a long time to finish, 5 hours 38 minutes. That was about 1 hour and 25 minutes longer than the similar distance of the Red Clay Ramble that I rode on December 13.
The elevation change at ride with GPS is 3,330. My Edge 530 showed 4,354. Garmin Connect elevation correction agreed with ride with GPS but Strava elevation correction was 4,291.
This is a great ride!
I have not done the Fried Green routes…yet…I’ll probably save them for warmer days since wet feet in winter are not my favorite. 🙂
How are the roads on this route after a rain? Was thinking about riding Double Murder tomorrow; Saturday, Jan 8 but concerned about mud on the red clay roads. Thoughts?
Hi James. I have not ridden it after a rain so can only speculate. National Forest gravel seems to drain better than county maintained gravel which can vary in quality. Most of these routes are county maintained gravel and some of the longer Double Murder route is old logging roads. Combined, my guess is that it will be a bit muddy after a rain.
We’ve ridden a few times post rain and most of the system drains really well. BUT a few sections were like riding through thick peanut butter. Few and far between but .,memorable.
Two questions: does anyone have experience what the roads are like after rain? Last time I rode the double it had been dry. Second, are there any WMA required permit areas on the route? I didn’t think there were, but I remember seeing some WMA signs along the route.
Hi Travis. Take a look at my reply to James re Mud. The beginning of both the Murder Creek and Double Murder routes do pass through the Clybel WMA.
You are definitely on a lot of WMA land on this ride but I know someone who has ridden there for years with no pass and has not been asked for one. However, I did hear of a story of some riders on the west side of Atlanta riding on some WMA land out there and a ranger stopped them and asked for passes. One rider didn’t have one and the ranger made them buy one on the spot over their phone. So just to be safe, I bought one. I mean why not, if it help keep these great areas for us to ride maintained and intact. All you need is just the $15 fishing license.
I rode the Double Murder, solo, last week. Amazing route, Tim. WOW. I think it’s my new favorite within about an hour of the city. Thank you for putting it out here. Its epic in scenery and provides miles of smiles. I want to do the Triple soon…has anyone else ridden it yet?
Hey JC. Good to hear from you and glad you liked the route! I’ve ridden most of the roads as part of other routes but not the Triple Murder route as a whole. It gets down into the Piedmont Wildlife Refuge. Have you ridden the refuge – any of the Fried Green AKA Soggy Feet routes? They are stellar. Hope you are at peace. Stay safe.
I finally got out yesterday to try the Murder Creek 38 mile route for a solo adventure and what an adventure it was! I got tired of riding the same old Locust Grove/Jackson route we do every week and wanted something different and this course had it all. I think I underestimated the course a little as I was pretty worn out when I got done. There were some challenging climbs and also seemed to be lots of fresh gravel out. Great scenery though and lots of nice quiet secluded cycling. I enjoyed the moments where I stopped for a break and could hear absolutely nothing! I will definitely be back out in a month or so and maybe the new gravel will be packed down a bit!
Side note – I was told by a friend that if you ride on WMA lands, you need to have some type of WMA pass like a hunting, fishing, land pass or other. Also heard of a story from someone who was riding with a group on WMA land and was stopped by a ranger to check their passes. One person didn’t have one and was made to buy one on the spot! The cheapest pass is a $15 fishing license. So I went ahead and bought one beforehand just to be sure but I don’t know if this is actually a requirement?
Hi David. Thanks for the reminder about the Land Pass. Yes, a fishing license will do and it is the least expensive option. Either will get you onto all or almost all WMA lands in the state of Georgia for a year. See https://georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes.
I’m glad you liked the route. One common theme I’m hearing in both the comments and emails is chunky gravel. I think the county roads see more frequent gravel dumps than do the roads in the national forest.
Silence is a rare treasure in today’s world.
Hi Tim, how often do they put out new gravel? Is there a schedule or just put it out when needed?
I don’t know. I think it is Jasper county? Just an observation. My guess is that they dump fresh gravel whenever the good ole boys tear up the place, in which case every Monday morning is likely 🙂
It seems like there is always some fresh chunk somewhere, every time someone rides this.
This whole place is amazing – thank you so much for sharing!! Like other posters here (Lee R.) we’ve now pieced together and done a few different options and each time I’m simply amazed at how special the riding is, how far out there it feels, but how close the whole system is to town. If you’re up for a real um adventure, head towards the Rush Creek campground and the pull onto the Rush Creek Trail which will take one through the woods and over to Lane Rd. Marvel at the bike route signs posted on the trees!
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.
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!
Thanks for the beedback Lee! Say hi if you happen to see a rider on a Niner while you are out there. 😉
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Tim Lafferty – I’m happy to share but want to respect Tim Hollingworth’s site and routes. If he’s agreeable I’m happy to reply with the route. Otherwise reach out to me at email@example.com.
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.
Here’s the 30 mile route. Same parking and starting point as the other routes. https://ridewithgps.com/trips/50286552
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.