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.
ESOM HILL ADVENTURE
The Esom Hill Adventure route pushes the boundaries of what's possible on a gravel bike. There's almost 18 miles of genteel country pavement but much of the remaining 29 miles consists of jeep roads, frog puddles and a few sections of straight up bedrock. Throw in a crossing of Terrapin Creek and a little bit of hike-a-bike and you have yourself a bonafide adventure ride! This 47 mile mixed-surface route starts just a stone's throw from Alabama at the Silver Comet Trailhead in Esom Hill, Georgia.
THE POLK PYRENEES
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.
LAKE CHEAHA GRAVEL
The Lake Cheaha Gravel routes are located just south south of Cheaha State Park in Alabama. 36 and 43 mile options utilize 4x4 roads to traverse the spine of Talladega Mountain southward and long stretches of impeccably groomed gravel return north to the lake. The opening and closing miles of the route are paved and feature perfect rollers and impressive views of the mountains. Rugged jeep roads and lots of elevation make the longer version more difficult than numbers suggest. The shorter option avoids the more intense sections for those who prefer to get back to the lake early.
Gorgeous horse ranches, tree canopy tunnels, open views and an almost complete absence of traffic make this 57 mile road route northwest of Cartersville GA as beautiful as it is challenging. Road cyclists have been climbing Boyd Mountain since the days of lugged frames and cue sheets. In spite of its name it isn't quite the mountains but it isn't flat by any stretch of the imagination. Lots of elevation change, including the 8% KOM from which the route gets its name, will exercise both your derailleurs and your legs.
THE TOCCOA SWINGING BRIDGE
North Georgia's 47 & 51 mile mixed-surface Toccoa Swinging Bridge routes cross the Toccoa river twice, first an antique steel bridge in the quaint town of Aska and again on a cable suspended bridge which really does swing. Both feature quiet country roads through broad valleys framed by mountain peaks, lakes, rivers, pristine forests and sustained gravel climbs. The longer option will test your skill on the blistering "High House" descent. Either option will likely be one of the prettiest routes you will ever ride.
Starting about an hour northwest of Atlanta, the 100% paved Johnson Mountain route enjoys 25 miles of gently rolling terrain through Bartow County, Georgia before heading into the hills east of Highway 411. Here you'll encounter 10% grades, descents to test your nerve and views which rival anything in the south. This is 53 miles of some of the finest road cycling the area has to offer.
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.
Accessible from the Chief Ladiga and Silver Comet Rail Trails, the playful and rolling Duggar Mountain gravel routes are available in 41, 52 and 68 mile lengths. All three traverse ridges and climb the sometimes punchy hills in the pine glades of the Talladega National Forest near Piedmont, Alabama.
FRIED GREEN 27/42/50
The Fried Green 27/42/50 routes explore the extensive network of gravel roads in and around the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge near Juliette, Ga. Located little more than an hour south of Atlanta, three lengths provide options for riders of all abilities. All feature pristine pine glades and hardwood forests, rolling and sometimes playful terrain, a few creek crossings and postcard perfect gravel.
The 53 mile mixed-surface Cades Cove route enters Great Smoky Mountains National Park via a seldom used gravel road over Rich Mountain. Cades Cove is one of the most visited locations in the entire national park system and simply too beautiful to ride fast. The 11 mile paved loop road and gravel roads within the cove are sometimes closed to motor vehicles to allow car free access to cyclists.
Congress authorized the Foothills Parkway as a scenic drive to provide magnificent views into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Located in East Tennessee, 31 miles of the roadway are open as of 2020. The Foothills Parkway route is 63 miles and 8100 feet of climbing if ridden end to end as an out-and-back. Climbers will love it but even if you don't have the legs for the whole route then at least do the newly constructed eastern section for its stunning views.
MURDER CREEK/DOUBLE MURDER
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.
The 46 mile Cloudland route consists of three long horizontal paved sectors interrupted by two short vertical gravel sectors. The first gravel sector descends the west side of Lookout Mountain to the hamlet of Rising Fawn, GA and another ascends back to the crest. Stunning views, the gorge and waterfalls at Cloudland Canyon State Park and the ride along the escarpment make this an unforgettable route.
TOWER OF TERROR
The paved Tower of Terror road route climbs and descends the hills northeast of Sosebee Cycling Park in White, Georgia. There is a tower but the only thing frightening about this 66 mile road route is a bit of chipseal. Expect lots of elevation change, some technical descending and virtually no traffic. The area has many interesting features including rushing creeks, a spring which pours out of the mountain and some truly bizarre roads.