There are a number of riding spots in Georgia, but one of the best is the Locust Stake ORV Area in the Chattooga Ranger District of the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Located in northern Georgia, the Locust Stake ORV Area is the second largest of the 10 riding areas in the state, with 17 miles of trails ranging from easy to most difficult. It's one of the most popular riding areas because it offers a scenic and challenging ride through stands of Georgia Pine and then, just when you least expect it, you come up under a magnificent railroad trestle.
The North Fork Trestle is about 1,400 feet long and is supported by 10 reinforced concrete piers with heights up to 200 feet. It was the first bridge of this height to employ hollow piers. You can’t really get the whole picture as you sit below the trestle, but you can see the whole structure from near the riding area.
To go there, do this: When you leave Locust Stake Road and go to the nearby four-lane road, turn left, go up the hill, and the railroad tracks pass under a bridge. The very next paved road on the left is Trestle Ridge. Go to the end of the road and take the black top to the left and you’ll see it as you approach the turn-around.
The Georgia Recreational Trail Riders Association works in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to maintain the area, and can be found working on the trail system throughout the season.
Frank Spencer heads up the volunteers and coordinates workdays with Bill Elliot, the recreation specialist for the district.
“We get over a hundred volunteers over the season that come out and work on the trails,” Elliot says.
Adds Spencer: “Some are very dedicated and come out each workday, while others come for only one. But no matter how much time they give, it helps us to keep the trails open.
“I like to see whole families out working on the trails,” he says. “It teaches the kids that it is a good thing to give back.”
The Locust Stake ORV Area closes from January 1 through March 31 to protect the environment during the wet and freezing months of the year.
There is a user fee of $5 per day and/or $25 for a season pass. Some 80 percent of this money is returned to the riding area for trail maintenance and improvements. There are no restrooms on site but they are being planned.
Directions: Take GA Hwy 365 North from Cornelia approximately 10 miles. Turn left on county road (Rock Road). Travel .01 mile to the first gravel road on the right (Locust Stake Road). Turn right, travel 1.5 miles to parking and unloading area on the right.
For more information and a map of the riding area, contact:
Chattooga Ranger District
200 Highway 197 North
PO Box 1980
Clarkesville, GA 30523
Or call (706) 754-6221.
You can also visit: www.fs.fed.us/conf/rec/orv_info.htm.
There is no camping at the area, although the Lake Russell Campground and Beach, where campsites overlook a 100-acre lake, is about 12 miles south. There is a clean grassy beach, water slide, showers and changing area along with hiking trails, horseshoe pits and a convenience store. For hotels, Cornelia is the nearest place to look.
For gas, visit Clarkesville, which is only a few miles from the riding area. This is also where the district ranger’s office is if you’d like to get a map of the area.