At first glance, the Tower Loop at FATS (Forks Area Trail System) may seem daunting, labeled as one of the more 'advanced' trails in the network. But don't let the tag deter you; it's a misleading moniker. Tower Loop, with its modest elevation gain and occasional root sections, offers a balanced yet engaging ride that can be enjoyed by cyclists of various skill levels.
For those unfamiliar with the location, take SC Exit 1 from I-20 near Augusta, GA. Head north on SC 230 for about 5 miles, and turn left onto Woodlawn Rd. Continue for roughly 4 miles until the trailhead parking area for southern trails appears on your left. To reach Tower Loop specifically, keep going past this parking lot and turn left onto Deepstep Rd. A few miles down the road, FS 661, a gravel road, will intersect from the left. Turn here and proceed until you reach the parking lot. The trail access is halfway through the Big Rock Loop.
This loop is often described as 'technical,' but not in the traditional sense. Instead, the narrowness of the trail makes it challenging to navigate at high speeds, requiring a heightened sense of awareness and bike handling. Many consider Tower Loop a hidden jewel due to its less-traveled status compared to its southeastern counterparts in the FATS system.
Cyclists who have experienced Tower Loop often recommend it, especially for its uncrowded nature and a balance of uphill and downhill sections. Many suggest tackling Tower Loop along with Big Rock as they share a similar, distinct character, unlike the other trails in FATS. The trail is largely unadorned by scenic distractions, leaving you free to focus on the ride itself.
Tower Loop, often misconceived as one of the more challenging trails in the FATS system, actually provides a more nuanced riding experience. Its narrower tracks and smooth flow make it a local favorite for those looking for less crowded yet equally satisfying rides. Whether you're a seasoned cyclist or someone seeking to transition into more intermediate trails, Tower Loop offers a unique cycling experience that shouldn't be missed.