The Best Mountain Bike Rides Near Atlanta

The “City in the Forest” is home to some amazing mountain biking. Take advantage of one rider’s guide to some of the city's top local dirt therapy destinations.

If you’re looking to put your two wheels on dirt around Atlanta, then you’re in luck. You’ll find trails within easy driving distance, and there’s a variety of difficulties and styles of riding available to you.  

Interested in improving your skills or biking with a group? Make sure you check out a local REI class or excursion. Whether you want to skim along ribbons of singletrack or shoot yourself into the air on carefully crafted jumps, we’ll help you find your next great trail experience in and around the “City in the Forest.”

Southside Park

  • Location: Atlanta 
  • Length: 7 miles when completed 
  • Difficulty: Multiple trail difficulties 
  • Best For: Proximity to downtown and the surrounding area 

This trail system has had an arduous journey to existence; a collaboration between many volunteer groups and government agencies has resulted in one of the best mountain biking experiences in the metro area. The Southside Park project was the first of its kind as the Atlanta Park System began installing and maintaining mountain bike trails around the city. It took four years to design the master plan and break ground on the park in 2016; it’s estimated to take another 7–13 years to fully accomplish the dream. They have already opened one single-direction gravity trail. 

The Southside trail system caters to a wide range of skill levels, from beginner to expert. There are several different trails that you can link together to have a “choose your own adventure.” It caters to all ability levels and is a great place to get out with your family. You can find workday times and trail conditions on the Atlanta Area SORBA (Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association) website and Twitter feed. You can also find volunteer information there, as the local SORBA maintains the attraction. 

One last great highlight of Southside Park is the location: It’s an easy drive from downtown. Whether you’re looking for a great ride after work or take multiple loops on the weekend, this is a great place to let loose and have fun on the bike. 

Cochran Mill Park

  • Location: Chattahoochee Hills 
  • Length: 18 miles of XC multiuse trails 
  • Difficulty: Beginner to intermediate options 
  • Best For: Great opportunity for cyclers who are also hikers and equestrians 

Cochran Mill—not to be confused with Cochran Shoals Park, which comes later in this list—offers a unique experience in the Atlanta area for mountain biking. If you’re in search of that “old school singletrack” experience, this is the trail you’ve been waiting for. These trails offer up to 18 miles of retro-style switchbacks and flow gracefully. While these paths were machine built, they’re left to be natural. The routes are tight and twisty, so get ready to earn your flow here. You’ll have the opportunity to test your skills on tight turns and build confidence on your bike. 

Since these trails are open to all users, make sure to practice proper trail etiquette—remember that bikes yield to everyone. You’ll be able to pace yourself with other users, because you are able to see several turns ahead. The Cochran Mill Park is one of the longest trails in the metro area. These trails are maintained by Atlanta Area SORBA, you can find workday times and trail conditions on its Twitter feed and website. 

Trails like this are the reason Asheville is one of the biggest cycling destinations in the East.
A mountain biker rides the trails. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service)

Sope Creek Trails at the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area

  • LocationSandy Springs
  • Length: 7 miles 
  • Difficulty: Beginner to intermediate trails 
  • Best For: Those looking for a challenge 

Sope Creek Trails may be the busiest, but they are also the most accessible trails in the Atlanta metro area. The system offers two main loops and has a connector in the middle. This trail system is the most used in the city due to its location, easy access and unique challenges. Be prepared: This park has a 10 mph speed limit—but, as always, bikes yield to all other trail users.  

While Sope Creek offers beginner-friendly sections, they are spaced between intermediate sections. For these intermediate sections, you need to be ready for the ride or be willing to walk, since there is no way around them. For a complete beginner experience, there’s a 3-mile gravel path around the park that makes for a fun and easy progression to the intermediate sections.

Olde Rope Mill

  • Location: Woodstock 
  • Length: About 12 miles 
  • Difficulty: Multiple trail difficulties  
  • Best For: Directional traffic, purpose-built for mountain bikes 

Olde Rope Mill is a great choice for any Atlanta-area rider. These trails were built for mountain bikes and there are 10 different loops to choose from. This park has everything you could want in the ultimate XC trail system. With the river running through the middle of the park, you’re never far from a beautiful view—that is if you can focus on something other than grinning from ear to ear as you blast through the turns. 

Since the trails at Olde Rope Mill are directional (the direction of the trail changes depending on the day), riders should be sure to check the map at the trailhead before getting started, in order to catch which direction the trail is running on each visit. A fun way to challenge yourself is to come back on multiple occasions and try to master the trail going both ways. This is a great chance to gain new Strava records and compare your times on different trail directions. 

Olde Rope Mill is another busy trail system, so always make sure you’re watching the trail ahead of you for other users.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Anita Naidu

Big Creek Park

  • Location: Roswell 
  • Length: 6.8 XC miles 
  • Difficulty: Beginner to advanced trail options 
  • Best For: Dirt jumps, pump track and a freeride park 

Big Creek Park is the master park of the Atlanta area. This trail system has plenty of variety, from XC loops to freeride chutes. Whether you want to go the distance or bring your jumping A game, you can choose your level of fun. There are beginner options for every discipline, intermediate flows and expert-level features as well. Located in the city of Roswell, this trail is only 30 minutes from downtown. Big Creek is the king of the hill in metro-area riding. The name doesn’t lie, because it offers a pump track, freeride and dirt jumps. The park also offers a trailhead to a greenway that spans miles and miles of paved scenic views. The trails are maintained by the Woodstock SORBA, who also maintain Blankets Creek, a great trail system in Georgia as well that we’ll get into next on this list. The SORBA offers trail conditions and workday information on its website, if you’d like to learn more or volunteer. 

Blankets Creek Park

  • Location: Canton 
  • Length: 15 miles of flow 
  • Difficulty: Beginner to intermediate 
  • Best For: The well-maintained, directional gravity trail 

Blankets Creek truly offers a unique experience for every rider, regardless of skill or ability. Most of its trails are directional, meaning you follow one way and don’t run the risk of taking a turn into another rider. But Blankets Creek also has a gravity trail, which allows you to test your downhill skills. The park is located only 30 minutes from downtown Atlanta, and this trail system lets you get everything from your after-hours vibes out to your weekend epic trail ride. You’ll have the time of your life as you rip through the bermed turns and jump from roller to roller. 

Blankets Creek has one main trail that is 4.6 miles long and several smaller loops that make for endless options. One of the best features of this park is how well-maintained the trails are: You won’t miss the ruts as the bike tires roll seamlessly along the ground. Blankets Creek is a great choice for beginner riders or families with children who are still learning to ride safely. However, if you love the option of jumps and smooth rides, you’ll love these trails! 

Mountain biker navigating around roots on a shady trail

Cochran Shoals Park

  • Location: Marietta
  • Length: 3.1 miles 
  • Difficulty: Beginner-friendly 
  • Best For: A flat path, flow trail beside a river 

Conveniently located in the Atlanta metro area, Cochran Shoals Park is the perfect place for beginners. This system offers a few different options for riders depending on the ride you’re looking for. The trails include a flat path of over 3 miles that flows along the banks of the Chattahoochee River. Cochran Shoals is a great place to take the family, especially young kids who are still learning and gaining confidence on the bike. They can take breaks and enjoy the river, while parents don’t have to worry about difficult features. 

This trail is a local favorite for that lunchtime ride or getting in some miles after work. Thanks to beautiful scenic views, you’re sure to enjoy the landscapes while getting some fresh air. Since this is a popular spot and it is multiuse, be sure to watch out for hikers and runners.  

There are so many options in the Atlanta area for a great ride. Whether you’re looking for a family outing next weekend, or an after-work dirt therapy session, the metro area offers some amazing opportunities to have a great time.