- Location: Clarks Hill, South Carolina
- Distance: 37 miles
- Level: Intermediate
- Route Type: Loop
- Getting There: From I-20 near Augusta, GA take SC Exit 1 (SC 230). Head north for 5 miles, then turn left onto Woodlawn Rd. Continue for about 4 miles until you find the trailhead parking area on the left.
Nestled in the heart of Sumter National Forest, the Forks Area Trail System (FATS) is a mecca for mountain bikers who crave speed, flow, and airtime. Comprising four distinct loops—each ranging from 5-8 miles—FATS provides a trail experience that is nothing short of exhilarating.
What to Expect on the Trail
Designed by the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (SORBA), the FATS trail system is meticulously planned to offer a smooth, flowing ride that's punctuated by jumps and turns. This makes it an ideal destination for bikers of all skill levels. Beginners can savor the gentle climbs and speedy descents, while seasoned riders can put their cornering and jumping skills to the test.
- Community: The trail is well-patronized, and riders generally follow the rules, creating a safe and enjoyable environment.
- Terrain: Expect fast, flowy tracks with ample opportunities to catch some air. The area is well-drained but can get muddy after rains.
- Connectivity: With multiple loops that can be tackled individually or linked together, FATS offers an adaptable trail experience that can be tailored to your stamina and skills.
- Scenery: Set in a lush pine forest, the trail offers beautiful views and shade, though it can get dusty during the pollen season.
Multiple riders have raved about the trail's excellent design, great flow, and opportunities for speed and jumps. Many even consider FATS among the best trail systems they've ever experienced. For those looking to improve their pumping and jumping skills, FATS is an optimal training ground.
Tips and Recommendations
- Direction: The trail can be ridden both clockwise and counter-clockwise. If you're looking for more of a workout, ride it counter-clockwise; for a more leisurely, fun experience, go clockwise.
- Safety: Always wear safety gear. Some riders also recommend wearing glasses to protect your eyes in the pine forest areas.
- Camping: Dispersed camping is available on-site for those looking to extend their adventure.
In summary, FATS is not just another trail; it's a well-thought-out system that promises an addictive riding experience that will have you coming back for more. Whether you're local or making a special trip, this trail system is well worth the visit.