Mountain biking is one sport that’s thrilling the first time you go out. Surfing, skateboarding, tennis, golf, distance running . . . not so much. But progress-driven as we are, your 10 th ride through a beginner trail can get a bit stale. Helen has always had great places to get into mountain biking and then a couple of trails that might make experienced riders rethink their own expertise (Unicoi, Hickory Nut). Intermediate places to build new skills have been harder to find—until now. The Yonah Preserve Trails were just completed in June, built by the most passionate members of the mountain biking community, SORBA—Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association.
The Yonah Preserve, just 9 miles from downtown Helen, is a great place to move your beginner skills toward intermediate:
According to Woody’s Bike Rentals owner Woody, the area’s most well-known outfitter and a key member of SORBA, the preserve trail is the best maintained intermediate option in the area.
He notes, “These trails are meticulously planned and maintained, so you can count on the compacted surface and the intention behind each curve, grade, and obstacle.”
Woody also adds that a trail like Hickory Nut is so prohibitively long and full of difficult climbs that beginners may tap out before they ever get to make any progress. “The obstacles at Yonah are all optional,” he says. “Riders can choose to address small boulders and other challenges or go around them.” There is also a creek crossing and dam ride-over to keep you inspired aesthetically.
Here are some skills you might isolate to practice at Yonah. You don’t have to leave your young or slower riders at home to get better yourself.
If you are looking for an instructor or just need some rentals and shuttles, check in with Woody. Yonah is open from now until mid-March, entering its first falls and winter seasons. More trails with increasing variety are planned at Yonah in the coming years, so stay tuned!