Bull & Jake Bikepacking Trail

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.
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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.

  • Distance

    65 Mi.

    (105 KM)
  • Days

    2

  • % Unpaved

    90%

  • % Singletrack

    30%

  • Difficulty (1-10)

    4

  • % Rideable (time)

    99%

  • Total Ascent

    7,043'

    (2,147 M)
  • High Point

    3,430'

    (1,045 M)
  • Highlights
  • Must Know
  • Camping
  • Food/H2O
  • Trail Notes
  • 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

  • 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?

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    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/

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    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.