The 56 mile Centralhatchee Mixed Surface route meanders through the pastoral landscape of West Georgia’s Heard and Carroll Counties. Farming is the area’s biggest industry and the route passes dozens of working farms, each one prettier than the last. It feels like riding through a postcard at times, especially for city or suburban folk. The sparsely populated area has very light traffic and some of the highest quality gravel you will ever ride.
The Centralhatchee Mixed Surface route illustrates West Georgia’s tremendous potential as a gravel riding destination. Light traffic, wonderful scenery, rolling terrain and fantastic gravel all combine to make the area the equal of anything else the Southeast has to offer.
The route starts at the Centralhatchee Recreation Facility in Centralhatchee, Georgia. In the four times SoutheastCyclingRoutes.com has started rides here, there have never been more than two or three cars parked in the lot. The area’s residents don’t seem to use the park much, which is a shame given such nice amenities. There’s a covered pavilion, tennis and basketball courts, baseball field, kids playground and walking trails. Restrooms are spacious and immaculate. Be sure to check out the moving veterans memorial as you pedal toward the park’s exit.
Lack of human presence is a theme which continues for much of the route. Keep in mind that Heard County is one of the least populated counties in Georgia. You’ll pass plenty of houses and farmsteads but with the exception of store stops, there just aren’t very many people around. Sparse population means light traffic and the only traffic to speak of is near churches on Sunday morning and approaching the town of Roopville where the route crosses highway 27.
The route switches surfaces quite often so that its never boring or tedious. Heard and Carroll Counties take excellent care of their gravel. Most of it is hard packed with a very light coating. It’s the stuff we dream of, never chunky and as fast or as relaxing as you want it to be.
56 feet/mile average places the Centralhatchee Mixed Surface route near the flatter end of the spectrum. There are no long climbs but a few kickers might require briefly standing out of the saddle.This clearly isn’t the mountains but there are very few actual flat roads on this route. The route almost always climbs or descends, even if the grade is relatively gentle. Those who enjoy the Murder Creek routes will love the Centralhatchee Mixed Surface route, though this has a bit more climbing.
What appears to be a dead-end around mile 43.3 is the only spot you’ll have to dismount and walk. Here a path through the kudzu leads to a wooden skeleton bridge. Negotiating the berm erected to keep cars from using the bridge is a bit of a challenge but its a nice place for a nutrition and hydration break. Paved Thaxton Rd is the alternate for those who wish to bypass this little “Adventure” section. See the maps and tabs below for more information.
You can’t miss an old store with lots of car memorabilia and old bicycles hanging from the fence around mile seven. Car lovers might want to budge a little extra time to check out the many classics which decorate driveways and lawns.
Keep an eye on the SoutheastCyclingRoutes.com Routes Map page for more great routes in this area and please consider letting everyone know about your experience by posting in the comments section below. Sharing practical information such as road closures as well as your challenges and joys, provides invaluable feedback as SoutheastCyclingRoutes.com plans future routes. It’s a great way to help your fellow cyclists as well.
- The dead-end at mile 43.3 isn't really a dead end. Dismount and follow the trail through the kudzu. You will need to scramble down the embankment and lift your bike over the berm. Its only about 30 feet but in the summer you will work up a sweat. The bridge is on the other side of the berm. See the "No Bridge" map above for an alternate route which uses Thaxton Rd.
- West Georgia is known for lots of loose dogs but none were encountered when scouting the Centralhatchee Mixed Surface route. Animal control recommends pepper spray just in case.
- Parking at the Centralhatchee Recreation Facility is free. Note the signs which threaten towing if cars are left after park closing.
- The rec facility spacious restrooms which were absolutely immaculate at the time the route was scouted.
- The picnic pavilion has a spigot but it was locked each time we visited the rec facility. Apart from the restrooms, there will be no water available at the park.
- Don't count on any services in the town of Centralhatchee. Bring everything you need.
- There are several store stops in Roopville around mile 15 and one further along near mile 31. The mile 31 stop is set back from the road and easy to miss if you are zoned out or hammering. Make good use of these stores as there are no others on or near the route.
- The nearest town with full services is Carrollton, GA located 15 miles north of the ride start. Here you will find banks, restaurants, auto repair, a hospital and bike shops.
- The town of Franklin is located five miles to the south of the ride start. Franklin has the typical convenience stores, fast food restaurants, Dollar General and a Piggly Wiggly.