Situated just a stone's throw away from the bustling city of Ellijay, Georgia, the Cartecay River Loop Trail offers an exciting blend of adrenaline and serenity for mountain bikers. This intermediate-level trail covers approximately 5 miles in a loop format. From steep climbs to technical descents, it's a trail that demands your respect but rewards you with breathtaking vistas of the Cartecay River and a memorable ride through Georgia's woodland.
From Ellijay, head east on GA 52 for 3.2 miles before making a right onto Mulkey Rd. Proceed for another 0.4 miles and you'll find the entrance to the Rich Mountain WMA Cartecay Tract. Parking is available at the gate. Remember, this is a user-fee area requiring a GORP (Georgia Outdoor Recreational Pass) license, which can be acquired online.
Begin your ride by passing through the closed gate and following the service road. When you reach a fork, stick to the left and ascend the hill. A singletrack branches off to the right—ignore it for now and continue on the service road. Reach the top and you're greeted with panoramic mountain views and a wide-open field, perfect for gaining speed.
As you delve into the forest, expect about a mile of root-laden, twisty singletrack. But the real test comes in the form of a steep, highly technical downhill section filled with roots and rocks. It's a moment of truth for intermediate riders, and a walk-the-bike zone for beginners.
Once you survive the downhill, you'll find yourself beside the stunning Cartecay River. The trail meanders along the riverbank, giving you a different kind of challenge with its erratic contour. After crossing the river thrice, be prepared for a grueling climb back up.
From the river, the trail swings back north to join the Red and White loop. Follow it for about a mile before rejoining the initial service road that leads back to the parking area.
Whether you're aiming to hone your technical skills or simply yearning for a peaceful ride through nature, the Cartecay River Loop Trail promises a fulfilling experience. With its variety of terrains and challenges, it's a trail that invites you to come back, to conquer new obstacles or to simply relish its natural beauty once more.