Bull & Jake Bikepacking Trail

  • Distance

    65 Mi.

    (105 KM)
  • Days


  • % Unpaved


  • % Singletrack


  • Difficulty (1-10)


  • % Rideable (time)


  • Total Ascent


    (2,147 M)
  • High Point


    (1,045 M)
Based upon the Bull and Jake Mountain IMBA EPIC, this loop combines red-clay singletrack, long gravel road climbs, and thrilling descents through the Chattahoochee National Forest of North Georgia.
Share Facebook 0 Twitter Pinterest Google+

Welcome to the deep and dirty south, where the singletrack is smooth, the gravel roads are fine, and the swimming holes are deep. The Chattahoochee National Forest is home to the Bull and Jake Mountain singletrack trail systems; these two trail systems combined create an IMBA Epic. IMBA denotes an Epics as a “true backcountry riding experience—one that is technically and physically challenging” This particular bikepacking route combines that Epic trail with some of the finest gravel climbs and descents in the area, along crooked streams, quiet forest roads, open Georgian farmlands, deep stream-crossings, and red-clay singletrack.

The Chattahoochee National Forest is rich with history, known to be the site of the first major U.S. gold rush and thought to be the heart of Georgian wine country. The National Forest received its name from native Cherokee and Creek Indians, in their Muskogean dialect, Chattahoochee means “stone flowered” referring to the rock-strewn Chattahoochee River. After your ride, explore the mountain getaway town of Dahlonega and quench your thirst with some of that good ole southern sweet tea.

  • Highlights


  • Must Know


  • Camping


  • Food/H2O


  • Trail Notes


  • Resources


  • The easily accessible swimming hole of Rock Lake. It offers just enough privacy to keep your chamois dry.
  • The technical and fast descent off of Bull Mountain.
  • The winding and even faster 8 mile descent on Winding Stair Gap Road.
  • Stocked trout near the fishery on Rock Creek Road. Bring your Tenkara!
  • Free creek-side camping – if you can get there before the hillbillies snatch up all the spots.
  • Craft burgers, fried green beans, and local beer at Spirits Tavern in Dahlonega.
  • Trails and roads in the Blue Ridge Wildlife Management area are closed to bicycles all day during primitive weapons and firearms deer seasons and before 10 a.m. EST during archery and turkey seasons.
  • Bears and critters are common in the area, hanging your food is recommended.
  • Parking at the Jake Mountain Trailhead is considered day-use, however there is nothing denoting “no overnight parking” nor did we experience any problems on our trip.
  • The trail network is multi-use and is heavily used by equestrians.
  • The route is best ridden during the spring and fall, however it’s still doable in the winter and summer.
  • Rock Creek offers the most ideal primitive camping areas along the route; access to filterable water, trout fishing, and a little serenity are a few of the perks. Oh, and they are free.
  • Frank Gross camping area is set alongside the creek with a total of 8 camping spots and clean pit toilets. Camping is $8 a night.
  • There is one designated primitive campground within the WMA (Frank Gross), however camping is allowed anywhere on WMAs on National Forest lands, except where posted otherwise.
  • Food is not available along the route but hunger is the best cook; throw that on top of a Spirits Tavern burger, along with a fried egg, bacon, and blueberry chutney  when you get off the trail and you’ll be in ecstacy. Their beer,  wine and cocktail selection will leave you calling a cab to get back to the campground. Located in the nearby town of Dahlonega, Spirits Tavern is great end to a bikepacking adventure.
  • In the mood for some BBQ and sweet tea, hit up one of the closest restaurants to the trail: Hickory Prime BBQ. Don’t be deterred because its attached to a gas station, thats how its done in the South. Once you walk in the door the BBQ trophies and the smell of pulled pork will convince you that you’ve made the right choice.
  • Water is filterable along Rock Creek Road for the first day. Make sure you carry enough to get you to Jones creek which is the next filterable water along the route.

The route starts with about 10 miles of smooth singletrack then transitions into well-graded gravel that travels over a large Cat 4 climb. After an epic descent, the gravel follows Rock Creek, which has plenty of camping, a great swimming hole, and opportunities to hook up with some stocked trout. The next morning starts with a lonely forest road, which leads to about 5-7 miles of pavement along a quiet county road. The pavement eventually turns to more gravel, which climbs Springer Mountain and passes closely to the Southern Terminus of the AT. Winding Stair Gap road is probably the most epic descent of the route, at its end is the first opportunity for filterable water in the day. The route then leads up a long technical climb to the top of Bull Mountain, it is all rideable should you have the lungs and legs. A rock cairn marks the top, the descent is a bit rocky and super enjoyable. A couple of small punchy climbs and flowing singletrack bring you back to the Jake Mountain Trailhead.

Additional Resources

Terms of Use: As with each bikepacking route guide published on BIKEPACKING.com, should you choose to cycle this route, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road closures. While riding, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow the #leavenotrace guidelines. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. BIKEPACKING.com LLC, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individual riders cycling or following this route.

  • Steve Pepitone

    Interested in doing this route in the next couple of weeks, but struggling to make use of the GPX file (upload to garmin connect always fails) and the que sheet on ridewithgps is a bit sparse. Are there any additional deets on the route?

  • Andrew Jordan Hicks

    I’m looking to do this trail but don’t have a GPS other than my phone. Is this trail doable without a GPS?

  • Perhaps if you had the right maps. Also look under Plan and find the ‘using your smartphone as a GPS’ article… http://www.bikepacking.com/plan/smartphone-as-a-gps/

  • Sorry, missed this message. I’m not sure what the issue is with Garmin. You might consider Gaia or RWGPS: http://www.bikepacking.com/plan/smartphone-as-a-gps/

  • Homie

    Would this be doable on a cross bike with 40mm tires?

  • Mike Pajewski

    Id say maybe if your a glutton for punishment. I did the route this weekend in the rain and saw a few people on the trails ridding cross bikes but there are a lot of fast descends that would be tough on a cross bike.

  • Colt Fetters

    The gravel roads would be great on a cross bike/gravel grinder although, the singletrack would not be much fun.

  • Andrew Jordan Hicks

    Would you recommend a suspension fork for rigid fork for the single track bits?

  • James Seargent II

    12/21 – 12/22 2017
    5’8’’ 213 lbs
    Stache 5 Full Rigid 17.5 29+ 3.0 Tire
    44.2lbs Weight Wet (bike fully packed)
    54.3 miles completed
    Max Speed (Winding Stair) 41.6mph.
    Tire Pressure on Single Track =
    – 15F 17R
    Tire Pressure on Rd/Gravel/Clay =
    – 17F 19R
    Great ride. Great scenery, well groomed.
    What I would Change?
    — Setting up my Single Tracks App to daisy chain my rout beforehand.
    What I loved? Just when I was tired of a type of ride it changed. Great mix of landscape.
    What I regret? Not staying to do it again.

  • James Seargent II

    I loved my ridgid, its carbon so I may get some some flex. I’m also running 29+.

  • Garrett McDaniel

    Are dogs allowed on this route? Thanks!

  • Melvin Glover

    I just did an abbreviated ride of the route where I cut the top half by riding NF-42 west from Hightower Gap (mile 19.3) to Winding Stair Gap (mile 47.0). Started at Jake Mountain and camped at Jones Creek Campground that night, then a three hour ride back to the car the next morning made this a S24O. I’m glad I went this route because I was dead tired after climbing up to Hightower Gap. Maybe I’m just out of shape, but ~7 miles of climbing on a fully-loaded rig was humbling.

    One word of caution: the creek crossing at mile 2.3 was at least waist-high and moving fast because of (I’m assuming) the rain the two previous days. Fifty feet or so upstream I found a fallen tree I was able to get across with my bike.

  • Josh

    What do you think the mileage on this was? I’m about to head up that way from Atlanta!

  • Melvin Glover

    Well at the beginning of the route I went in the opposite direction for about thirty minutes and had to backtrack. First day was around 33mi and second was around 13mi. If I hadn’t gone the wrong way, it probably would have been about 28mi the first day and still 13mi the second day. The first day is all fun and games until you start climbing at mile 11! Jones Creek campground was pretty empty and I had no problem finding a nice quiet spot.

    Good luck on the ride! If you’re interested in riding together sometime, I’m looking for someone to do the Alabama Skyway with. I’m also down in Atlanta.

  • Christian Ensign

    Melvin couldn’t be more right on three parts: 1) humbling first climb 2) tree 50m upstream 3) route bail options. We brought a very fit guy with us whose primary sport is not cycling, and he bonked at the end of the first day / top of the climb – bonked hard. We were light, and outfitted w/ 2 days supplies. Water abounds through out, including creeks, streams, and flow from the mountains along the forest roads. We used our life straws a lot, and would highly recommend them.

    Not noted anywhere is that this goes right through the heart of the USA Rangers mountain phase of ranger school – very cool to see these troops pushing their limits on the same forest roads.

    Highly recommended trip, but note that that first climb will break the will of unseasoned cyclists or those who can’t train to endure that consistent grinding climbing w/ load. The 4/10 rating (unclear how that is calculated) is much like rock climbing in the New River Gorge…5.8 my ass


  • Christian Ensign

    Could agree more – thanks for the creek crossing recommendation!

  • Melvin Glover

    You’re welcome! I was freaking out for a minute or two trying to figure out if I should risk wading or just turn back, but decided to take a walk and luckily found the fallen tree.

    Glad I wasn’t the only one who found the first climb challenging.

  • Joshua

    I’m new to the bikepacking aspect of cycling, but I’ve been riding regularly (and racing some) over the past three/four years. I’m from around the Atlanta area, and I was wondering if there were any other bikepacking routes in Georgia? I know of the Trans NG, Cohutta Cat, and this Jake and Bull one. Any suggestions or recommendations would be very helpful!!

    P.S.- Could this route be completed on a rigid bike with 2.2″ knobbies?

  • The three you listed are the ones we have on the site right now. I have heard whisperings of a couple more, but don’t know any details. Yes, all three of those could be completed on a rigid MTB if you don’t mind suffering a bit…