BLUE RIDGE, GA
The 43 mile Rock Creek route starts in the craft brewery and arts focused town of Blue Ridge and travels to the edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Along the way you will climb among million dollar mountaintop homes, meander along rushing creeks and enjoy postcard views of the North Georgia mountains. This mixed surface route is a visual delight with lots of variety and surprises around just about every corner.
Blue Ridge, Georgia is the quintessential Appalachian mountain town. The cool mountain air and often manufactured quaintness lures hordes of tourists from the cities on summer afternoons. Traffic and lack of parking are inevitable but if one arrives early enough, and especially in the off-season, the proximity to national forests and occasionally great food make Blue Ridge a fantastic start location.
With this in mind, the Rock Creek route starts amidst the cafes and art shops and circles the lake which bears the town’s name in a clockwise direction. The opening miles will be shared with a bit of polite traffic as the route rolls over the dam which impounds the Tocoa River and forms the lake. The first gravel is encountered at about mile 7 where the route turns south and meanders past lakeside cabins and through hardwood filled coves.
Old Dial Rd and the Aska steel bridge are familiar to those who have ridden the Tocoa Swinging Bridge route. The bridge is an obvious stopping point and signals an opportunity for calorie rich pecan pie and hot chocolate or sweet tea at the route’s only store.
Gravel begins again at the Gilmer County line and the highest point on the route is reached shortly after at Stanley Gap. Rock Creek Rd continues from the gap with a fast descent leading to a broad valley with outstanding views of peaks to the south. For those who think they have the legs, an optional 8 mile climb to the 4000 foot Rich Mountain summit is indicated on the map. Rock Creek Rd is one of the highlights of the route and is the route’s longest stretch of unpaved roadway. What the gravel lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality.
Patterson Mountain is another highlight of the route. “Cabins” cling precariously to the hillside as grades ramp up repeatedly. Breathtaking views through the trees provide excuses to stop and recover. The visual and physical intensity here should not be underestimated. The climb up Maggie Chapman Rd will test your your fortitude. The mixed-surface descent down Little Bushy Head Rd will test your nerve.
More than just connectors to gravel, the surrounding scenery and rolling terrain make more than 30 miles of pavement on the Rock Creek route worth riding for its own sake. A sizeable chipseal sector is rendered absolutely delightful by wide gravel tires. Ambitious riders can head further into the mountains where there’s as much gravel as anyone could want. Cyclists in the area for vacation will want to bring their bikes and consider putting this route on their list.
Be sure to check the tabs below for important information and let us know if you ride the Rock Creek route. Posting a comment below is a great way to participate in the local cycling community and share information with other cyclists.
- Downtown Blue Ridge will have significant traffic during tourist season, especially on summer weekends and when the leaves are turning. Take the lane when you need it and ride alert. A daybright rear blinky is recommended.
- You may encounter some traffic around the middle school at mile 1.3 on weekdays.
- Blue Ridge has lots of free parking but finding a spot is likely to be a challenge on weekend afternoons during summer and leaf season. On the other hand, you may have the town to yourself in the off season. There are a few private lots as a last resort but these tend to be expensive.
- Rum Cake Lady Cuban Cafe is highly recommended for apres ride and a few treats to bring home for the family. Pedal fast because they close at 4PM.
- Restrooms were not documented when the route was scouted. It's probably best to take care of business at a store before heading into town.
- The Iron Bridge Cafe and Store is the only resupply on the route and may have limited hours. Check their website, or better yet, give them a call before heading out.