Monday, December 31, 2012
- Discuss Comment
After the hustle and grind of the spring and summer months eased at his bike shop in Dalton, Ga., Shane Adams decided it was high time to take his staff on a cool-weather retreat, and he knew just the place to take them — North Georgia’s Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Get-A-Way.
“It’s crazy here during our busy months — each of us is multitasking and going full-throttle,” describes Adams, who owns and operates Bear Creek Bikes on Walnut Avenue with his wife, Kerry. “We have very little time to talk, get to know each other, ride together or discuss the shop’s future and direction. I wanted to treat my staff to an offsite experience that was killer fun, but relaxing and productive, too.”
And that’s what Adams and his staff found at Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Get-A-Way. Consider this — 80 miles of pristine ride-in, ride-out single track dirt with immediate access from the cabins; another 70 miles of prime mountain bike trailways in the vicinity; hot, plentiful home-cooked meals made with farm-fresh ingredients; comfortable cabins and spacious camping sites; clean bathhouse facilities with hot showers; Wi-Fi, hot tubs, fire pits and a recreation room; a rustic barn for group gatherings and an abundance of natural peace and beauty. It has everything that mountain bikers wish for — and so much more.
“And the trails are awesome,” Adams explains. “All the trails have different personalities and high fun factors. Plus, you can string lots of trails together for a long, unique ride through varied terrain.”
Bear Creek Trail, Mountaintown Creek Trail, sections of Pinhoti Trail, Windy Gap Trail, Tibbs Trail and Milma Trail are close and convenient — ride-in, ride-out — from the cabins and campground. All of the trails surrounding Mulberry Gap are rated intermediate and advanced and embody the heart-thumping mania that mountain bikers crave.
“It’s tucked in the Cohutta Wilderness just far enough away so that you feel that you’ve escaped your every day life, but it is still pretty close to home,” Adams says. “And we were very well taken care of during our stay there.”
Indeed, Mulberry Gap caters strictly to mountain bikers with voracious appetites for intense cycling, serious relaxation and loads of home-cooked grub. The retreat has a huge following of repeat customers who come year-round from as far away as Michigan and Canada. The staff graciously welcomes every knobby tired pedal pumper they meet to this hidden oasis.
“We tell people to just bring their bike — we’ll take care of the rest,” says Diane Kepley, who manages and co-owns the retreat. “We really enjoy our guests and we are happy to serve the mountain biking community.”
Kepley and her staff have thought of everything. The staffers are on-hand for assisted and guided rides and don’t mind shuttling guests to high-elevation trailheads. For unfortunate guests who have problems with their bikes during their stay, Mulberry Gap employees can help with simple bike repairs. An on-site shop actually keeps repair tools and basic parts on-hand. Beyond minor repairs and adjustments, they’ve partnered with local bicycle repair shops to help get guests back on their bikes.
“And we’re a safe place to visit,” Kepley adds. “My family lives on the property and are available 24/7, and Andrew Gates, a member of our staff, is a trained EMT. He’s an avid mountain biker, and he knows the area, so if one of our guests gets hurt on a trail, he can get to him or her quickly.”
Cabins are immaculately clean with fresh linens and a simple, rustic decor that blends with the natural surroundings. All units have heaters to warm guests’ bones on cool winter nights. Mountain bikers who burn their legs out on the dirt during the day are invited to soothe their muscles in one of the large hot tubs while gazing at the stars twinkling in the clear, Southern sky. Robes are included for cabin guests.
“And we offer hearty, nutritious meals so our hungry guests can refuel and get ready for another big day on the trails,” says Kepley. “Ginni Taylor makes sure that no one rides away hungry, and we can even accommodate special diets with a little notice.” Dinner entrées are diverse and delicious including dishes like Lowcountry boil, chicken and dumplings, and Southern-style chicken. And the desserts are fabulous — fruit cobblers, brownies, cakes and slices of pie with plops of ice cream melting down the sides. Breakfast and dinner are included with cabin rates, and lunches are available upon request and can be packed to go.
Mulberry Gap is also pet friendly. Furry friends are welcome, too — for a small fee.
Just an hour and a half from Chattanooga, the retreat is a home-away-from-home enveloped by the serene beauty of Cohutta’s backcountry wilderness and the screaming, drool-inducing dirt of a mountain biker’s dreams.
TALES OF A FEW OF THE TRAILS
The trails surrounding Mulberry Gap are designed for experienced, confident mountain bikers.
Bear Creek Trail
One of Georgia’s oldest official mountain biking trails, Bear Creek Trail is an intermediate level trail offering fat tire lovers 10-plus miles of sensational single track and double track trail beds, a scenic overlook with a view of stunning Fort Mountain in the distance, moderate to steep climbing with a wicked, rewarding downhill spin and a few creek crossings and switchbacks that make the trail even more interesting. One point of interest along the trail is a mammoth tulip poplar tree known as the Gennett poplar. Local folklore chronicles that the tree was spared from logging by the Gennett brothers. Today, this relic of the past measures 18-feet in circumference at its base.
Mountaintown Creek Trail
One of the most scenic and remote rides in North Georgia, Mountaintown Creek Trail contours Mountaintown Creek for most of its way. The trail boasts 5-plus miles of intermediate-to-advanced double track and single track downhill surrounded by magnificent mountain terrain. Due to its numerous technical creek crossings, boggy areas and steep, loose trail beds, Mountaintown Creek Trail requires some technical skill and patience, but pedal pumpers are rewarded with stunning vistas, shimmery cascades and small waterfalls. A shuttle to the trailhead is recommended.
Pinhoti 1 Trail
Typically ridden as an offshoot from Bear Creek loop, Pinhoti 1 is an intermediate-to-advanced 4-mile trail with a challenging ascent and a fast, flowy downhill. It is primarily pristine single track with a short gravel road climb that ends at FS 90. The trail winds underneath tall, mature tree canopies that make you feel like you are zooming through an old-growth forest. Pinhoti 1 Trail is scenic and wildlife sightings are common.
Pinhoti 2 Trail
Simply one of the best single track downhills in Georgia, the Pinhoti 2 Trail is a fast, rollercoaster ride through hardwoods and pines. The intermediate trail charges 4-plus miles through scenic, pristine wilderness. A double track climb to the top of the ridge feeds into a single track and follows the ridgeline all the way down to Conasauga Road.
Pinhoti 3 Trail
Less than a half-mile from Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Get-A-Way, Pinhoti 3 is a diverse, intermediate-to-advanced level trail offering 8 miles of challenging uphills, fast downhills and many tight switchbacks. Typically ridden as an out-and-back from Mulberry Gap, this trail climbs 3.6 miles to the top — just past the Cohutta Overlook. The overlook offers a gorgeous panoramic view of the Cohutta Wilderness mountains.