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Mountain bike route Review: FATS

Amanda Hunt | Published on 10/9/2021

On Monday, July 5th two of us off-road Sorella sisters took a road trip to the Forks Area Trail System (FATS) for a fun mountain biking adventure. I wanted to share our thoughts on the trail in case you wanted to plan a trip!

From North Atlanta it is just over 2 and half hours drive east to Clarks Hill, SC which is near Augusta, GA. The drive isn’t very scenic and could be complicated by traffic during rush hour. We left Atlanta early in the morning to beat the summer heat and it was well worth the sacrifice in sleep.

The southern trail parking lot isn’t very large and is broken up into several areas with lots of shady spots. Although it is a National Forest (Sumter National Forest) it wasn’t immediately clear whether a fee was required. There was an old “take ticket and leave envelope with cash” station, but it was empty and in disrepair. But you might want to be prepared with $5 cash for parking just in case. There are two toilets and a pair of changing booths, similar to those at the Conyers horse park MTB trails. The water pump was broken and we were glad for the large water container we brought in with us.

The trail system has two main parking areas—a northern lot and a southern lot. We only tried the four trails from the southern lot. There are two trails off of the northern parking lot and supposedly you can ride between the two halves of the trail system though we didn’t try it.

The trails are marked as beginning/intermediate and I think that’s a fair assessment. Of the four trails we rode, Brown Waves was the easiest. All four trails were between 6-8 miles long. The trail system seems like a good place to practice cornering and where to put your body weight over the bike. There are a lack of berms but plenty of roots to practice short drops and climbs with roots as obstacles. Your base level of fitness doesn’t need to be very high as there aren’t many steep or demanding climbs.

The short trails makes for easy access back to vehicles to reload on supplies and water. All trails were fast and flowy. There were lots and lots and lots of whoop-dees. The trail was hard packed sand, a few loose pebbles, and pine needles. Due to the fact that this forest was made up of mostly pine trees I don’t think there would be a lot of leaves down in the fall to make it slick. The trail did have some low spots (you’re near the Savannah river and starting to move into coastal areas). The SORBA is very strict about reminding riders to stay on trail and to go through muddy areas instead of around them (to prevent trail creep). The trail can take a few days to dry out after rain due to the water table.

The trail was well-maintained though the more challenging routes were less ridden than the others. If you like whoop-dees, are avoiding mountains, and enjoy Chicopee then you would like FATS. The drive there and back from Atlanta is a slight pain, but it’s a good chance to catch up with friends if you share a car ride there and back. :)