Trans North Georgia (TNGA)

  • Distance

    357 Mi.

    (575 KM)
  • Days

    5

  • % Unpaved

    72%

  • % Singletrack

    18%

  • Difficulty (1-10)

    6.5

  • % Rideable (time)

    97%

  • Total Ascent

    38,690'

    (11,793 M)
  • High Point

    3,840'

    (1,170 M)
The Trans North Georgia is a 350 mile (560 KM) route that snakes through the southern Appalachian mountains from South Carolina to Alabama. Comprised of formidable singletrack, steep abandoned jeep tracks, and endless National Forest roads, the TNGA is a big bikepacking route that will test your mettle.
Share Facebook 0 Twitter Pinterest Google+

With over 56,000 feet (17,000 meters) of climbing, the TNGA is physically demanding, to say the least. But it’s not all about the challenge. The route is an incredibly beautiful stitchwork of roads and trails that explore the southern heel of Appalachian Mountains. It traverses a variety of landscapes that include pristine hardwood forest, fern-lined waterfalls, rocky ridges, and stands of pine. The TNGA is at times very remote and offers riders the opportunity be fully immersed in the Appalachian wilderness.

Expect a variety of riding surfaces including smooth and chunky gravel, pavement, root-strewn singletrack, rocky ridgline trails, abandoned road beds, and the occasional bushwhack. Between steep, quad-wrenching climbs and screaming descents, there are even rail-grade flat sections. The TNGA throws a little bit of everything.

  • Trans North Georgia (TNGA) Bikepacking Route
  • Trans North Georgia (TNGA) Bikepacking Route
  • Trans North Georgia (TNGA) Bikepacking Route
  • Trans North Georgia (TNGA) Bikepacking Route
  • Trans North Georgia (TNGA) Bikepacking Route
Route Development: The TNGA is a result of five years worth of scouting and planning efforts by David Muse. Each August/September there is an annual grand depart held by Derek Kozlowski and Mike Honcho, with assistance and support by Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Getaway. Although billed as an adventure — ‘not a race’ — finishing times are recorded and the current record is held by Eddie O’dea at 1:14:57 (2013).

Difficulty: We have assigned the TNGA a 6.5/10 based on the physical difficulty of the route. In addition to the endless climbing, the TNGA dishes out conditions that will test your physical endurance. Otherwise, there’s not a lot of technically difficult trails on route. For that I’d give it a 4 or 5; and it’s rather easy from a logistics standpoint as well.

Southern Highlands TraverseThe TNGA is the stage three of the four-part Southern Highlands Traverse, the fist long distance bikepacking route on the east coast starting in Front Royal, Virginia and finishing at Flagg Mountain, Alabama, at the southern terminus of the Pinhoti Trail. The route traverses a mix of over 1,200 miles of gravel roads, forest doubletrack and plenty of the South’s most challenging singletrack. The Southern Highlands Traverse will also serve as a challenging single track alternate in the forthcoming Eastern Divide Trail. Learn more here.
Note: distance and elevation appear less on GPS due to resizing for faster file download. Stats above are more accurate.
  • Highlights

  • Must Know

  • Camping

  • Food/H2O

    💧

  • Trail Notes

  • Endless abandoned forest roads through lush, green southern Appalachian wilderness.
  • Constantly riding alongside creeks, streams, rivers and waterfalls.
  • Spotting wildlife: turkey, black bear, fox, coyote, grouse, large woodpecker, owl, butterflies, and deer.
  • Views in the Cohutta Mountains
  • Stopping for a cold beer, nice rest, and hearty breakfast at the Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Getaway (mile 220).
  • The Stanley Gap trail: a hearty climb and nice singletrack downhill.
  • The excellent singletrack of the Bear Creek loop and the Pinhoti around Mulberry Gap.
  • Semi technical rocky ridge line singletrack on the Pinhoti outside Dalton through Snake Creek Gap.

Logistics

  • Plan for a minimum of 3-4 days on route (unless you are Eddy O’dea); a more realistic pace would be 50 miles per day which would require a total week and an average of 8,000 feet of climbing per day.
  • The best option for shuttling the point-to-point route is through Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Getaway, who offer a shuttle service to the route start, and from the finish. Pricing averages around $200 for a shuttle both ways, but contact Kate or Andrew before hand as pricing may vary depending on circumstances.
  • A car may be left at the start of the route (at your own risk); there is a pull out right after Russell Bridge.
  • A GPS unit and queue sheets are absolutely necessary to follow this route; there are many turns.

Weather

  • Spring (April/May) and Fall (September/October) are the ideal times to ride the TNGA. The spring can provide an incredible display of wildflowers and greenery that adorn the Appalachians; the fall offers a taste of leaf season.
  • The route is rideable during the summer months, but it can get very hot. There is plenty of water enroute and a lot of shade in the forests.
  • This route could possibly be ridden year round, but there are many creek crossings, so cold wet feet and potential frostbite could be of concern. Winter weather is unpredictable in this part of the Appalachians; one could expect snow or spring-like temperatures.

Dangers and Annoyances

  • There are plenty of ticks in this part of the south; be vigilant about checking.
  • This is black bear country; tie your food in a bear snag and be bear aware.
  • In the summer months, one might consider a head net to keep away the swarms of gnats.
  • Being that the route is primarily within National Forest land, there is no shortage of camping options. Several developed National Forest campgrounds can be found en route (several noted in the GPX) and usually require a fee of $5 or $10. Backcountry and roadside camping is also prevalent. #leavenotrace
  • Hotels, hostels, and lodging can be found in Dillard, Helen, Mulbery Gap, and Dalton.
  • It’s recommended for a stop and stay at Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Getaway; they have multiple lodging options including camping for $15-18, or cabins for $85 and up (including dinner and breakfast). They also have a store on site with a great craft beer selection, trail food, and bikepacking necessities such as Chamois Butter and stove fuel.
  • There are several small stores en route. If you are OK with the typical convenience store selection, it is possible to subsist from these resupply points, if timed properly.
  • There are several restaurants en route, or shortly off route, see the GPX for more.
  • The camp store at Mulberry Gap has a nice selection of trail foods and bars. Mulberry Gap also offers excellent home cooked meals (dinner and breakfast).
  • There are grocery stores slightly off route in Dillard, Helen, and Dalton.
  • The first 2/3 of the TNGA has plenty of water sources, including streams, springs and rivers. Bring a filter or iodine.
  • After Dalton, through Snake Creek Gap, there is very little water; fill up whenever possible using small streams that may be found in valleys between ridges.

South Carolina Border to Tallulah Falls

The route is traditionally ridden east to west starting at the South Carolina state line at Russell Bridge on the Chattooga River. Immediately the paved road climbs into the Chattahoochee National Forest and begins a series of difficult climbs over steeply graded gravel, dirt and paved roads. Before reaching Dillard, over Wilson Gap, the route uses a horse trail and a bit of singletrack before rejoining pavement and gravel. More dirt and gravel roads eventually lead alongside the scenic Tallulah River falls.

Tallulah Falls to Helen

After crossing the Tallulah River, the TNGA continues on forest roads, some well travelled and others all but abandoned. This portion of the route is punctuated by several big climbs and a stint on Hwy 76 before an epic forest road climb up Tray Mountain to the highest point of the route. The descent into Helen is a sketchy one along a rugged rock-strewn road bed that devolves into rough and rocky singletrack. Stop at Cimmie’s Cafe for a bite before you start the next big climb.

Helen to the Aska Trails

After leaving Helen, there is a long paved climb through “The Gaps”, Hogpen and Wolfpen Gap. The route then returns to mostly gravel road as it follows the Toccoa River, crosses an old iron bridge and approaches the Aska Trail network near the town of Blue Ridge.

Aska Trails to Mulberry Gap

The bench-cut Aska Trails are a nice singletrack network that meanders through the forest and then climbs the epic Stanley Gap before an incredible descent rejoining gravel into the community of Cherry Log. After a neverending pedal up Cashes Valley Road, riders enter the Cohutta Mountains on gravel, doubletrack, and the singletrack of the South Fork and Pinhoti trails. This section is punctuated by the flowing singletrack forest ride through the Bear Creek section of the Pinhoti which eventually dumps out onto Mulberry Gap Road.

Mulberry Gap to Finish

The remainder of the TNGA mostly follows the Pinhoti trail, which features a wide variety of terrain, trail, and road. Once in Dalton, and after a paved climb, the route rejoins the Pinhoti through the rocky ridges around Snake Creek Gap. Some sections are singletrack, others old roadbeds, some follow gravel roads or pavement. The final run toward the Alabama border follows an old rail bed.

The Event

The Trans North Georgia Mountain Bike Adventure is a self-supported through-ride along the TNGA route, usually held in late August. It is not a race; it’s an adventure. Finishing times are recorded and documented for comparison but there is no podium nor prize. The current record is held by Eddie O’dea at 1:14:57 (2013). Participants are required to register, sign a waiver, and carry a SPOT tracker, but there is no fee to participate. Here is the 2015 pre-race video:

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.

  • Barrett Hoover

    Awesome route report Logan! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  • Thanks Barrett. Spread the word, it’s a great route!

  • mikeetheviking

    Great photos! Looks like you had a good vacation!

  • Thanks Mikee… It was a good one!

  • HoppyPaynts

    Poison ivy really should be our state plant. It would make more sense than the Cherokee Rose being our state flower, which is native to southeast Asia and invasive here. Thanks for this write up; I’d like to do a lot of the forest road sections on my rigid frame.

  • I am pretty sure I’ve never seen so much poison ivy. The Hickory Nut ‘Trail’ coming down Tray is riddled with the stuff. Interesting factoid about the Cherokee Rose.

  • dave

    Holy moly, that’s steeper than the Colorado Trail…and it’s in Georgia.

  • Eddie O’Dea

    Thanks for sharing this route. A big shout out goes to David Muse for the 5 years of scouting and rescouting that he put into pulling this route together.

  • Eddie O’Dea

    The Hickory Nut Trail does not see much traffic outside of the TNGA event. It’s sometimes cleared for the event.

  • Thanks Eddie (just realized your name is misspelled); fixing it now and I’ll add credit to Dave. Cheers!

  • Never underestimate the Appalachians!

  • Hey Logan – what gps device are you using currently?

  • Hi Ben. I use the eTrex 20

  • Quiet sickness is a deaf person? Photos are great. Reminds me of Slovakia and Poland.

  • Thanks Nicholas! Those signs are bizarre … Also saw ‘slow sickness’ and a few others. I think the ‘quiet’ is a directive, but not sure why.

  • Interesting, a friend found this tidbit: “These signs originated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, where impoverished mountain people had been lured into mill work with the promise of a higher quality of living, which of course meant “selling your soul to the company store” and exposure to terrible working conditions, including being shut up in brick cotton factories for hours and hours on end. A group of experts on work productivity suggested that the mills brick in all the windows, as the workers would not waste time looking out. This lack of circulation in the cotton mills caused an epidemic of brown lung disease. People with brown lung feel like they are drowning when they lie down. It is very hot in this region in the summer, so families would put recliners on the porches so the people with brown lung could sleep at night. Though efforts to unionize at that point had been completely unsuccessful, some workers were able to make these “quiet sickness” signs to encourage people passing through to be quiet at night.”

  • Ant

    What camera did you travel with on the TNGA? Great photos!

  • Thanks Ant. The Fuji x100…

  • Ant

    Awesome. I thought it had that Fuji style. I’m looking to make a camera purchase and thinking about the possibility to bring it on bike rides. Was thinking the Fuji XT-1 but now that the XT-10 is out and offers a lot of features of the XT-1 in a smaller/lighter package I’m leaning towards the Fuji XT-10. How do you transport your camera?.

  • The Tapeats from Bedrock fits the x100 like a glove. Porcelain Rocket also makes a small camera slinger.

  • Jason Liers

    What device did you use to ride the route? Looks like your track that the map are right on for the most part. My tracks are never that accurate.

  • Connor D’Amato

    When is the ideal time to ride this route? Would mid November be too late?

  • Check out the weather section under Must Know. It’s rideable all year, but if it’s cold, your toes may freeze… lots of creek crossings.

  • Connor D’Amato

    Thanks so much, very helpful! Hopefully the weather will hold out.

  • Quinn Alonzo

    hi, is there any route that you would suggest for a young person? (im 16) im a cyclocross racer who loves to explore my state, but i want to experience more mountains and hills than indiana has to offer. ive been looking at this trail since its come out, and i want to try it out!

  • Hi Jason, sorry, I missed this and just saw it. I use an eTrex 20.

  • Hi Quinn. This is a tough route that requires a lot of endurance. It is also better for a group of two or more. If you’d be interested in a route out west, the White Rim is a pretty good beginner route that’s doable in the winter. The Kokopelli is also nice, although it does have a few tech sections.

  • Darrell

    Just getting started and wondering if you need to use a GPS or can you ride this with maps?

  • I would definitely use a gps for this one; there are a few options. I recently started using the Gaia Gps app… It’s awesome. You can add the gpx to your account then have it show on the map and follow the line. You could also convert it to a TCX and instal it on a simple GPS like an Edge 500 and do turn by turn; or put it on something like an eTrex 10, 20, or 30 and follow the line with it mounted on your handlebars.

  • Jason Shearer

    Hickory Nut sees a lot of bear traffic.

  • Les Brown

    Hi Logan, think the singletrack sections of the TNGA are doable on a gravel/adventure bike with 42cm knobby tires? For comparison, I was able to ride the singletrack sections of the Huracan 300 loaded with gear on the same bike. Also, I’m looking to do an ~150-mile section of this route. Any recommendations on starting/ending points? Thanks!

  • I think so… a lot of the singletrack is after Mulberry Gap, so you could ride the 180 mile section from Rabun Gap to Mulberry Gap… a little over 15 miles, but a good section, and great start/stop points.

  • Les Brown

    That sounds perfect. Thanks for the tips!

  • Daniel Wharrier

    hi
    im moving to georgia soon and was wondering if this is possible on a crossbike? if not is there anymore routes around that way

  • Check out the comment below in response to Les…

  • Bill Wright

    Logan- Your write up inspired my friends and I to ride this route. We
    just finished, well, sort of. Only made it as far as Mulberry Gap with
    our allotted time. Let me reiterate to others what you said above – do
    not underestimate this route (we sure did)! Super challenging, but fun.
    And Kate, Andrew, Diane and the crew at Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike
    Getaway do a great job. Already planning the next one……

  • Rob Gunter

    Anyone planning or interested in an October TNGA ride?

  • Joshua K. Waldrop

    where can i find the cue sheet for this route?

  • Barrett Hoover

    Does anyone happen to know where to get cue sheets? The website appears to be down.

  • Frank

    Here’s a “road” story along Dave’s comment…In the 1980’s, the 7-11 Road Cycling team came to North GA to race in the Pepsi Twilight Omnium just prior to their first start in the Tour De France. Having trained on the 6 gaps in N GA for years and being very familiar with them, I was privileged enough to be invited to train with the 7-11 team to “show them some hills.” The 6 gap ride consists of 100 miles of 6 gaps (you rode on two of them) and 12,000 ft of climbing; along the way is Brasstown Bald, the highest point in GA and a very steep 11 average gradient 3 mile climb for an additional 2,000 ft. They said the exact same thing as Dave…”holy moly, these hills are steeper than back home!!” We time-trialed Brasstown Bald as part of the Omnium and most of the guys on the 7-11 team had a difficult time reaching the top. They didn’t make top 10. At that point, I knew they would have difficulty in the TDF! The team members at the time were Alex Steida, Bob Roll, Chris Carmicheal, Eric Heiden, Davis Phinney, the Stetina twins and several others I can’t remember names. Rebecca Twigg and Connie Carpenter rode with us on some of those hills, too! The 7-11 team went on to race their first TDF and Alex Steida became the first “North American” to wear the yellow; I think Davis won some stages; Bob Roll got sick and they all eventually dropped out and went home. The N GA area is beautiful for cycling on and off road!

  • James Hodges

    James Hodges in N VA
    Does anyone have a list of potential resupply points along the TNGA to share? I have a rough list from the map without mileage so far.

  • Jim Bohnet

    I remember doing the 6 gap many times with Don Gura, Mike Melnik, Jay and Mike Osborne, Gary Davis and many others as our early spring out of hibernation training rides. Brings back some memories.

  • This looks like a nice ride, however I’m curious about the humidity and heat. When would be the best time to avoid it and do this? I moved from Iowa to Colorado to avoid it.

  • Unfortunately the heat and humidity is unpredictable in the South. I would say October though.

  • Good to know, thanks.