Nestled in the surroundings of Dahlonega, Georgia, the Hightower Trail offers a fusion of thrill and scenic beauty. With an overall distance of 11 miles and a difficulty rating of 'Difficult,' the trail promises more than just a casual ride through the woods. However, despite its potential, this route requires significant attention to become a top recommendation for mountain biking enthusiasts.
How to Get There
Starting Point: White church parking lot, Camp Frank D. Merril
- From Dahlonega: Head west on HWY 9, right on HWY 52, then turn right at Grizzle's Store onto Nimblewill Church Road. Follow signs to Bull Mountain and proceed up FS 28-1 until you reach Camp Frank D. Merril. Park at the white church outside of the camp gate.
The Ride Experience
Once you've set off from the church parking lot, prepare for a serious uphill trek via Cooper Gap Road. The trail eventually spills into a forest service road leading towards Hightower Gap. Here comes the intricate part: The unmarked Hightower Trail takes a left just inside of a turn. With a diverse terrain featuring rocks, loose gravel, downed trees, and multiple stream crossings, every mile promises a new challenge.
Highlights and Lowlights
- Rocky Terrains: The trail is a boulder field, making it not only challenging but also thrilling for those who crave technical rides.
- Downed Trees: While efforts have been made to clear the trail, some areas are still cluttered with fallen trees.
- Stream Crossings: There are a couple of rideable bridges and low creek crossings, adding diversity to the terrain.
- Ladder Bridge Drop: Near the end of the singletrack is a 10-foot ladder bridge drop that will make your heart pound.
- Scenic Beauty: As a bonus, the trail offers magnificent views of the nearby river and forests.
- Lack of Maintenance: The trail requires significant clean-up, including removal of downed trees and repair of footbridges.
- Safety Concerns: Due to rocky and steep areas, this trail has a high probability of injury for those unprepared.
- Local Ride: If you're in the area, it's worth checking out, but might not be worth a long journey.
- Restoration Efforts: Locals are keen on restoring this trail. If you're in the area, contributing to the maintenance can help revive this gem.
- Logging Activities: As of now, there are some ongoing logging activities. Better suited for weekend rides to avoid the work.
Hightower Trail's current condition may not be exemplary, but its untapped potential is undeniable. With collective efforts in maintenance and promotion, this could be one of Dahlonega's prime mountain biking spots. Until then, ride at your own risk and keep the adrenaline pumping!