Our First Pinhoti West Tour!
The Mulberry Gap crew just completed our first ever Pinhoti West Tour and it was a great success! This tour showcases the remote and rugged singletrack of the Ridge and Valley region of North Georgia with two days of supported riding on some of the most beautiful, and challenging trail in the Southeast.
Our guests arrived Thursday night for dinner consisting of plentiful plates of pasta with meatballs the size of tennis balls and topped with your choice of a chunky tomato sauce or Ginni’s signature, and absolutely to die for, pesto sauce. Also on the menu was a large salad, garlic bread, and of course, brownies with ice cream. This was the perfect carb loading dinner to prepare for what was to come. After dinner, we held a pre ride meeting to preview our two-day adventure. We talked mileage, logistics, safety, and answered any questions they had about the route. After the meeting, there was a quick shakedown of gear and bikes, and then it was off to bed in a comfortable cabin to rest up for an early start.
Friday morning we were up at 7 for a hearty breakfast and then shuttled over to Dalton and Dug Gap for the start of our epic 35 mile day. With Andrew Gates running support, Alexander Bowers and Brett Davidson as on-trail guides, and Timothy “TJ” Kearns, our professional photographer, we pointed our front wheels up the first gravel climb to the singletrack of the Western Pinhoti.
After the short climb, we dove into the beginning of the infamous Snake Creek Gap Time Trial course on the Pinhoti. We ran this trip North to South in order to attack the first 8 miles of the Snake with fresh legs. The trail is literally a jumble of rocks, most of them square edged and nasty, all of it crazy fun. We took our time on the climbs, concentrated on our bike handling skills in the technical bits, and rallied down the descents. TJ sprinted ahead and set up some great shots of our guest’s sessioning some of the most notorious spots on the Snake like “the Wall” and the creek crossings between Middle and Mill Creek Mountains. Past the Middle Mountain Climb we ripped the huge descent down into Snake Creek Gap where Andrew was set up for lunch, cold drinks, and resupply.
After a great lunch and some relaxation time we started the climb up Horn Mountain. The Snake has some challenging ascents, that is for sure. Although the mountains of the Ridge and Valley are not as high as their cousins in the Blue Ridge, the climbs on the Snake tend to be straight up and the cumulative elevation gain on this section is no joke. As we made our way to the top of Horn Mountain, we stopped and took in the amazing views. That’s the best part of this tour - we make time to take it all in. Most people who ride the Snake are racing the Time Trial and have no time to really enjoy the view. One of our guests Justin, took over 350 pictures!
After the descent off Horn, we made our way across the Pocket, a pristine valley between the high ridges, and then up over what we call “Pine Needle Hill”, a red clay grunt, straight up and down. Then we began the gravel climb up John’s Mountain back onto the Pinhoti singletrack on the Western facing slope of the ridge. John’s Mountain is an ecological treasure of Ferns, native wildflowers, and some of the largest Trilliums in the southeastern Appalachians. It almost feels as if you are in the Pacific Northwest the vegetation is so dense and verdant. The riding also feels like the PNW. As we ripped the final descent of the day off John’s where Andrew was waiting to shuttle us to camp.
Our base camp for the Pinhoti West tour is James H. “Sloppy” Floyd State Park, just off of Taylor’s Ridge. This park is one of the nicest in the state park system with super clean facilities and premium campsites. After arriving, our guests showered, set up their tents and unwound in hammocks with an ice-cold beer while Andrew started dinner on the campfire. The menu this night consisted of juicy steaks on the fire, baked potatoes, a medley of roasted veggies and a huge salad. We really pride ourselves on the food on these trips; we bring the experience of Mulberry Gap on the road with us.
As we enjoyed dinner, we made our plans for the next day’s ride on Taylor’s Ridge: thirty miles of ridgeline singletrack from the Narrows on the Northern end to the huge staircase descent off High Point on the Southern end. As we talked, the clouds rolled in and the rain soon followed. That night brought a steady rain, and after checking the weather forecast for Saturday, it was more rain with a threat of severe storms in the morning and then again in the afternoon.
On Mulberry Gap tours, the only time we cancel a ride is due to a dangerous weather threat. All other decisions are discussed amongst the group and decided upon together, After a great nights’ rest and a delicious breakfast in the morning, the we all agreed to postpone the ride on Taylor’s Ridge and head back to Mulberry Gap for a day of rest with a short recovery ride in the evening. The guys requested to have us guide them on a tour of the Eastern Pinhoti on Sunday instead, which we were happy to oblige; we pride ourselves on flexibility with our tours. We had a huge ride around Mulberry the following day with TJ in tow shooting great shots along the way. Our guests’ decision to postpone the ride proved prudent and they were rewarded with sunny, cool temperatures and clear skies.
Despite the weather, the Western Pinhoti Tour definitely left an impression on our guests. Riding the Snake Creek Gap supported, with meals, shuttles, and experienced guides, provided them an effortless way to bag an epic backcountry ride that most mountain bikers only dream of. At the end of their stay, they booked a custom tour to finish the day they missed on Taylor’s Ridge and even added a day to fly fish in the Cohutta Backcountry. Check out our blog for future posts on our multi-day and single day tours and peruse our website under “tours” to plan your next adventure.