Growing up in the North Georgia Mountains, I spent 18 years naive to all the outdoor wonders that were quite literally in my backyard. When some friends and I spent the weekend in Blue Ridge, about 30 minutes south of my hometown of Blairsville, we decided it'd be the perfect opportunity to explore some new routes.
We didn't create this route. It was found on RideWithGPS and we decided to take a chance on it.
This route had a bit more road than I typically expect on a gravel route, but when they're freshly paved, winding country roads, I don't mind quite as much.
Although the route officially begins at the end of Wolf Pen Gap Rd, for ease of parking, we decided to park inside Vogel State Park. (There is a $5 parking fee, so be sure to bring cash if you make the same decision)
Leaving Vogel, you will make an immediate right turn to head up the mountain. This first climb is entirely paved. alongside a semi-busy mountain road. A lot of cyclists frequent this area, though, so everyone gave us plenty of wiggle room.
Soon after entering the Chattahoochee National Forest, you take a left turn to descend into the first piece of gravel.
This segment is almost entirely downhill, giving lots of opportunity to get loose in some gravel corners, but overall the road was in good shape.
This segment gives way to a secret surprise that, if you've been paying attention to signage along the way, won't be a surprise at all.
If it's summer and you're anxious to play in the water, you can choose to stop at the waterfall or just keep going on, where you will be greeted by two creek crossings about a mile down the road.
They're ridable, but even with riding, your feet will get wet!
We tried to scope out a dry crossing, but didn't find one. Y'all may have better luck, but I'd go ahead and deem these creek crossings inevitable.
Once through the creek crossings, it's a pretty flat ride out to a quiet paved road. You're on this for awhile, but the scenery is enjoyable!
After awhile, you'll take a right onto an even quieter back road. Still paved, though.
There's a pretty fun little climb back in this section, but it's short and over before ya know it.
The rest of the route is a nice mixture of paved, gravel, and twisty back road descents.
There's a lot of opportunity to gain some easy speed on these roads, which should be enjoyed while ya can.
The second half of this route is where the fun comes in. Ya know, if you have a weird masochistic definition of fun, which I assume you do because you're on a ride to begin with.
If you take a look at the ride's overall gradient map, you'll see a climb near the end that appears to be straight up. Based on the vibe of the ride, it'd be expected that this climb is going to be paved. Yeah, wrong.
The last 5 miles of the route takes you back on a loose gravel, twisty road through what I believe is a primitive camp site (which I never caught the name of, unfortunately).
Although the climb is more gradual in actuality than it appears on the map, the last 2 miles is decently straight up on loose gravel, so standing and mashing is completely out of the question.
However, once the top is reached, the end of ride is a huge payoff of a fast descent down the lower half of Wolf Pen Gap. If you're not comfortable with fast road descents, definitely keep your brakes close at hand. It's easy to pick up speed real fast!
If you parked at Vogel, you can save yourself some unnecessary climbing by keeping an eye out for some cabins and a parking lot that you'll see down the hill on your right. Slow down and travel a bit further until you come to the first little paved part that comes in through the backside between two cabins. You can head down this hill, take a right turn, and travel back to the main parking lot.
Despite spending the first 18 years of my life here, I've never known how many secret off-road treasures there are hiding. Thanks to places like Mulberry Gap and publications like Singletracks, North Georgia is becoming a staple in the off-roading community.
Overall, I would recommend this route as a quick way to spend an afternoon if you're in the area. If I were to do it again, I'd probably spend some time scouting out other roads or routes to combine with this one to make it longer and more challenging.
Route Length: 21.4 miles