Generations of cyclists have played on the ridge which stretches through Paulding and Polk counties in West Georgia. Climbs with names such as Everett Mountain, Paris Mountain and Vinson Mountain are hidden gems located just a few pedal strokes off the Silver Comet Trail. All are 100% paved and linked together by gently rolling terrain dotted with ranches and country estates. The metric distance Polk Pyrenees route showcases this incredible area and a shorter option is provided for those who prefer a little less climbing.
Just south of the Silver Comet Trail lies a ridge which stretches from Paulding County, Georgia in the east all the way to the Alabama’s Talladega National Forest in the west. Roads ascending and descending the ridge are a playground for cyclists who like elevation change. The area offers convenient access to excellent riding and is an opportunity for Silver Comet riders get off the trail and stretch their legs.
The Polk Pyrenees route is started at the Tara Drummond Trailhead on the Silver Comet Trail in Dallas, Georgia. The trailhead is a popular stopping point and you may find dozens of riders chatting it up or talking smack on a sunny day.
Warmup utilizes the most interesting and least crowded portion of the Silver Comet Trail. You’ll ride over the 750 foot long Pumpkinvine Trestle and coast through the 850 foot long Brushy Mountain Tunnel. On a hot day, cool air pouring out of the tunnel can be felt before the tunnel comes into view.
The Van Wert trailhead provides access to the first climb after 15 miles on the trail. Vinson Mountain Rd starts with an initial kicker, gets well into double digit grades about half way through its 3 mile length and then slowly mellows out. Don’t be surprised if motorists celebrate your suffering with honks and cheers. Vinson Mountain Rd was ridden as a descent in the Tour de Georgia and 50 MPH is not out of the question should you decide to do the same.
Browning Rd offers a scenic respite before the route drops-in on Everett Mountain Rd. Along the way you’ll pass several working cattle farms including Perry’s Hav-No-Gotta Ranch. Everett Mountain itself is stair-stepped with a few carved turns making it a flowy and very satisfying descent. The same stair steps hit repeatedly when ridden in reverse making it a more difficult climb than numbers suggest. Look for the lone grave of Hosea and Elizabeth Camp alongside the road around mile 26.8. True Polk County pioneers, Hosea was born when Georgia was still a British colony!
The second climb begins around mile 37. Paris Mountain’s silhouette can be seen in the distance as the route crosses open ground. The road ramps up to 6% as soon as it enters the woods and hangs there for 1.3 miles. It isn’t the Col du Tourmalet but switchbacks and a sheer dropoff give this climb great character. Unlike the Tourmalet, thick hardwood forest provides shade in summer and shelter from the wind in winter. Pavement came to Paris Mountain only a decade ago and even then, it was chipseal. As of summer 2022 it is silky smooth, bless the Polk County Highway Department’s heart!
A second pass of the Hav-No-Gotta ranch follows as the route again roughly follows the top of the ridge. The final “Descent” is a drawn out affair and includes the infamous Hulseytown chipseal. It’s actually more of a series of undulations which generally loose elevation over almost eight miles. It could be either a great workout or a slog, depending on your mindset. Either way, save some energy for this section. Those in need of a quick bottle of water toward the end can stop at Three Strands Vineyard. The winery wouldn’t be a terrible place to relax after the ride either. Its located approximately five miles from the end of the route.
The published map is only an example of what’s possible in the “Polk Pyrenees.” The figure eight route can be reconfigured in many ways and additional climbs or descents can be incorporated. Hightower Mountain Rd and Cobb Mountain Rd further west and the climb up Hulseytown are local favorites.
A lite version containing 65% of the elevation and 35% fewer miles is linked below. It foregoes the Hulseytown chipseal in favor of a series of fast and fun descents but still contains the excellent Paris Mountain climb which is (in our opinion) the high point (pun) of the route.
Don’t forget to check the tabs below for important information before heading out and share your experience in the comment section after you get back. Your feedback helps SoutheastCyclingRoutes.com and builds the community. We would love to hear how it went.
- You will encounter a pack of dogs at the end of Paris Mountain Rd (mile 18.9 and again at mile 42.7). Pay them no mind. The make a bunch of noise but are always fenced.
- Dog encounters have occurred from time to time at other locations along the routes. These have been sporadic and isolated with one notable exception. Some have reported a nuisance animal at the top of the Hightower Mountain Rd climb. Hightower isn't on either of the published routes but it is a blistering climb and would make a great addition. Consider pepper spray if you go up there. SoutheastCyclingRoutes.com uses Sabre Red Pepper Gel.
- The Brushy Mountain Tunnel (mile 9.9) sometimes has an inch of standing water inside, especially after a heavy rain. Hammering through will tattoo the back of your jersey with dirt. Soft pedal and enjoy the echo instead.
- The Tara Drummond Trailhead has free parking and room for about 30 cars. The traihead has restrooms and a water fountain which sometimes works.
- You could also park at any trailhead along the Silver Comet and ride to the start. The Paulding Chamber trailhead is about 1/2 mile away.
- Store stops on the metric route are located at mile 12.5 (Coots Lake), mile 15 (Dunns Quick Stop, Van Wert trailhead), mile 28.4 (Antioch Food Mart) and mile 46.8 (Scott's Chevron). Scott's really does have good coffee.
- Dunn's Quick Stop is to your left as you exit the Van Wert Trailhead to climb Vinson Mountain.
- The clerk at the Antioch Food Mart is from Nepal. I'm sorry I never asked his name. Anyway, he is one of the nicest people you will ever meet - always with a kind word and eager to chat.
- Store stops on the 41 mile route are located at mile 12.5 (Coots Lake Citco) and mile 28.6 (Scott's Chevron).
- The nearest full service town is Hiram located five miles to the east of the start location.
- A supermarket, convenience store and typical fast food restaurants are located on Hwy 278 (Jimmy Campbell Parkway) about two miles east of the ride start. There isn't much when approaching from the west.
- Historic downtown Dallas is just north of the ride start. Here you will find a pizza place, antique shops and Paulding County government offices.
- Three Strands Vineyard & Winery is passed five miles before the end of the route. The address is 1505 Willow Springs Rd., Dallas, GA 30132. The tasting room is down a short gravel road but the grass is fine to ride on with road tires.
When we write that generations have ridden these roads, we mean it literally. We can remember groups 20 or 30 strong riding up and down these mountains as far back as the turn of the century. Some of the riders were older ladies and gents at the time and are now elderly or no longer with us.
One momorable version of the route was named after the ranch on Browning Rd, Hav-No-Gotta. Search for it on Ride with GPS and you will find it. Another is called Hillseytown. Most locals nowadays call the area "The Polk Pyrenees" and the route published here is a SoutheastCyclingRoutes.com favorite. It is ridden several times each year from any number of Silver Comet trailheads and even as a century from the front door of our headquarters.
We hope you enjoy the Polk Pyrenees as much as we do!