New mountain bike trails at Jackrabbit

After years of hard work by the mountain bike community, a new system of trails at Jackrabbit Recreation Area on Chatuge Lake near Hayesville is quickly becoming a top single-track destination.

The 14-mile trail system skirts the edge of peninsulas along the lake shore. The layout allows riders to pick from multiple loops with various lengths and difficulties.

Praise overheard on the trail includes “smooth-packed bliss,”  “family friendly fun for all skill levels” and “ best signage and maintained terrain.” Mountain bikers reviewing the trail system in online forums have given it five-out-of-five-stars.

“These fast flowing, hard packed trails are built on a stacked loop design,” said Joanna Atkisson, president of Southern Appalachian Bicycle Association. “All eight trails are connected to a core trail, which gives the option of just traveling 3.1 miles or adding other trails to build more mileage.”

The trail system is open to hikers as well, but not to horses.

Jackrabbit Recreation Area also has a large campground with several loops, a swimming area with a sandy beach and boat put-ins.

Atkisson conceived the idea for the mountain bike trail system while introducing mountain biking to children in Clay County during after school and summer programs.

“When I realized there were no bike trails in the county, that’s what sparked the idea to build a system,” Atkisson said.

It took years of volunteer labor by the mountain bike club, and collaboration with the Forest Service, Clay County Community Revitalization Association and Mike Riter of Trail Design Specialists to make the project a reality.

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