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  1. #1
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    Are there bears in NE GA?

    Im going to be going to Ga. for a wedding in September and I would like to find some trails to ride. I will be close to Helen and it looks like there are a few nice trails in that area. I was just wondering if there are many bears in that area and if they ever mess with people on the trails.

  2. #2
    bust a move
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    Yes, there are some bears in the area and they rarely interact with people. Enjoy your riding in Helen
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    i seen bears as far down as valdosta ga.

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    any precautions I should take? biggest thing in my area is a bobcat and Ive never seen one while riding. I dont think I can outrun a bear.

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    ... and if we just ...

    There are Black Bears in Ocala as well as in South Florida (Everglades), but so far I have not heard of any probs with them.. YMMV of course...
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    The only bears you will find in the area are black bears and unless you get between a mother/cub or a bear and his food...you won't have any problems. If it makes you feel better you could ride with a giant can of pepper spray like Dog the bounty hunter uses
    Don't worry about it, if a bear sees you it will probably go in the opposite direction.
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  7. #7
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    I rode up on a momma and her cub the other day on Pinhoti. The cub shot up the nearest tree while the momma hauled ass down the side of the hill. I slowed just long enough to scold her for leaving her cub so quickly and rode on.

    O

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by pitanan
    The only bears you will find in the area are black bears and unless you get between a mother/cub or a bear and his food...you won't have any problems. If it makes you feel better you could ride with a giant can of pepper spray like Dog the bounty hunter uses
    Don't worry about it, if a bear sees you it will probably go in the opposite direction.
    So true, so true. Yeah, as mentioned above, we also have black bears here in FL as well as all over the SE states. I have seen one black bear in the Ocala area near a spring we were hiking nearby and one when we were riding up on Ft. Mountain in north GA. Both times the bears did not do anything but run from us. They are more scared of you then you are of them the majority of the time. Like mentioned above, just carry some strong pepper spray or either bear spray. Happy trails!

  9. #9
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    I've been riding in north GA, Western NC, and TN for the better part of 20 years and I have never gotten to see a bear. I've been caught in the middle of a bear hunt twice in Pisgah, but I didn't get to see the bears. I know they're out there and maybe one day I'll see one of the fine furry critters.
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    I guess Im gonna go for it. I guess its kinda like dear in my area they are all over the place but Ive only seen one once while riding.

    Can anyone recommend any good trails in the Helen area I will probably only get about 3 hours of riding time at the most so Id like the best this area has to offer. Also any good bike shops in the area?

  11. #11
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    Like K2biker I have either hiked or ridden in the southeast for a long time. My entire life in fact and I have only once seen a bear. That, ironically enough, was from a car while driving through Cade's Cove.
    "Bikes aren't fast--people are fast. Bikes are overpriced. It's an important distinction."---BikeSnob NYC

  12. #12
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    A bear killed me once.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oh-really
    A bear killed me once.
    oh really! I couldn't resist

    muell - I have ridden the unicoi trail right out of downtown Helen, not a bad ride & (bear free) and I do remember there is a bike shop in town but not the name of it.

    GrantB - I just saw my first ever black bear in the wild while riding my bike on the cades cove loop at the end of may. They open the loop to bikes only for a few hours on wed. & sat. mornings during the summer.
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    Hehe.... here in the south we share the trail.



    Oh and if you see one with cubs, be sure to pet them....... I keed i keed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by muell
    I guess Im gonna go for it. I guess its kinda like dear in my area they are all over the place but Ive only seen one once while riding.

    Can anyone recommend any good trails in the Helen area I will probably only get about 3 hours of riding time at the most so Id like the best this area has to offer. Also any good bike shops in the area?

    Stop in Woody's bike shop for trail info.

    Woody's Mountain Bikes - 457 Highway 356, Helen, GA 30545-2307 - (706) 878-3715‎

    Here's a map with trailheads in GA - there is not too much close, so if you only have three hours, ride the Helen trail.

    http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en...,0.508118&z=11

    I have been riding all around North GA for almost 20 years, and in all of that time I have only seen one bear on the trail - that was at Tanasi last year.

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    thanks for all the info.

    because of the map with all of the trailheads I havent got anything done at work. Ive just been researching trails.

    My plans have changed slightly it looks like we wont be staying in Helen like I thought we are going to be farther south in Commerce and will be traveling to Toccoa every day for wedding stuff but I did negotiate a full day of riding with the wife. With that in mind If you had to pick one place withing 50miles of Commerce or toccoa what would it be. Right now
    Chicopee Woods is looking pretty good. Im wanting something with rocks and elevation gain. Im from IL so everything I got is flat and quick I want something different.

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    I've seen several black bears on the trails here in North Georgia, and one in Helen actually (not in town, out on the trail). Black bears here in the lower 48 are typically way more scared of you than you are of them. Just make sure that you don't get between a momma bear and her cubs... then you're in deep. Otherwise, you're good to go!
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    50 miles from Commerce.....Chicopee is definitely a solid choice. On the southside of Athens, actually about, of 10-15 miles south, is the Oconee Heritage Park. It, too, is really good.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by muell
    thanks for all the info.

    because of the map with all of the trailheads I havent got anything done at work. Ive just been researching trails.

    My plans have changed slightly it looks like we wont be staying in Helen like I thought we are going to be farther south in Commerce and will be traveling to Toccoa every day for wedding stuff but I did negotiate a full day of riding with the wife. With that in mind If you had to pick one place withing 50miles of Commerce or toccoa what would it be. Right now
    Chicopee Woods is looking pretty good. Im wanting something with rocks and elevation gain. Im from IL so everything I got is flat and quick I want something different.
    There is a trail system in Toccoa called Frady Branch. I personally haven't ridden it, but I've heard good things. Check Jim Parham's guide book off the beaten track: north georgia for more info, or national geographic map #778. Also, cornelia is close by and has some sweet singletrack near lack russell.
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  20. #20
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    I have been reading up on all the GA trails and Bear creek looks like a must see is it worth a two hour drive?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by muell
    I have been reading up on all the GA trails and Bear creek looks like a must see is it worth a two hour drive?
    YES! It (and the surrounding miles of trails, well over 100) are well worth more than a two hour drive. You can read my review of bear creek here:
    http://www.gregridestrails.com/2010/...y-georgia.html
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  22. #22
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    Just make sure you give yourself time to enjoy Bear Creek and the surrounding trails. Chicopee and Oconee, etc. are places you could jam out some quick time and still feel like you experienced it. The Bear Creek/Pinhoti area demands some slowing down to look. It's nice.
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    Chicopee would be my must ride.

    I would skip Frady Branch. It is a mixed-use trail with horses. The trails are washed out. Plus the bridge at the trailhead was washed out during the spring. The trails at Lake Russel (same WMA) are better. http://trails.firstworks.com/trailsd..._composite.jpg

    Stonewall falls (Tiger, Ga) is fairly close to Toccoa. 11 mile main trail, with options to bail at 5. White Twister (about 5 miles) is at the same location.

    If you want something that sounds similar to Bear Creek, but closer, there is another trail in Helen - Hickory Nut. It's just across the road from the Unicoi trailhead, close to the camp grounds. Instead of riding the entire loop (Trey Mtn Road), last week I parked at the camp ground office and did an out and back on part of it. Awesome views and a fast downhill. http://www.sorba.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=33071

  24. #24
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by rlouder
    Chicopee would be my must ride.

    I would skip Frady Branch. It is a mixed-use trail with horses. The trails are washed out. Plus the bridge at the trailhead was washed out during the spring. The trails at Lake Russel (same WMA) are better. http://trails.firstworks.com/trailsd..._composite.jpg

    Stonewall falls (Tiger, Ga) is fairly close to Toccoa. 11 mile main trail, with options to bail at 5. White Twister (about 5 miles) is at the same location.

    If you want something that sounds similar to Bear Creek, but closer, there is another trail in Helen - Hickory Nut. It's just across the road from the Unicoi trailhead, close to the camp grounds. Instead of riding the entire loop (Trey Mtn Road), last week I parked at the camp ground office and did an out and back on part of it. Awesome views and a fast downhill. http://www.sorba.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=33071
    Hickory Nut is nothing near the singletrack caliber of Bear Creek...
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbGreg
    Hickory Nut is nothing near the singletrack caliber of Bear Creek...
    Good to know. I haven't ridden Bear Creek, so I couldn't make any comparison. Just throwing out a closer alternative in case the OP can't get away long enough to make the trip to Ellijay.

    I need to take a weekend and check out bc and the p's when it cools off a bit.

    The only animals I ever see are the occasional squirrel or deer at Chicopee. I was surprised to see deer there recently. I guess they have wandered over from the airport property.

    I'm usually huffing and puffing so loud (with an occasional expletive) on any kind of uphill that animals can hear me from a distance.
    Last edited by rlouder; 08-22-2010 at 06:05 AM.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by k2biker
    I've been riding in north GA, Western NC, and TN for the better part of 20 years and I have never gotten to see a bear. I've been caught in the middle of a bear hunt twice in Pisgah, but I didn't get to see the bears. I know they're out there and maybe one day I'll see one of the fine furry critters.
    That's unfortuante. Take a hiking trip in the Smoky Mtns. on a spur trail off of the AT, and I'll almost guarantee a bear sighting.
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    Quote Originally Posted by k2biker
    I've been riding in north GA, Western NC, and TN for the better part of 20 years and I have never gotten to see a bear. I've been caught in the middle of a bear hunt twice in Pisgah, but I didn't get to see the bears. I know they're out there and maybe one day I'll see one of the fine furry critters.

    FS road 44B (Jasus Creek) off chattahoochee river road in Helen. Supposedly they are everywhere around there. Rode it backwards last weekend for the first time along with some other stuff. It was really grown up in some places (grass and briars). I was making noise the whole time on the 44B loop so I wouldn't actually come around a corner and see one. Well that didnt work. Towards the end of 44B close to FS44 I rounded a corner one was standing in the middle of the doubletrack and it turned and looked at me and took off. Then crashing out of the brush were 2 younger ones. Of course they ran the way I needed to go. I said f*ck it and kept going the way I needed to go since it would be all fast downhill. Never saw them again. 3rd time I have seen a bear but first in the Helen area.

    Helen isnt the best place to ride mountain bikes if you are looking for singletrack since the only real "singletrack" I know of is the unicoi loop and maybe a portion of the hickory nut trail but it is a good place to train since there are some long gravel road climbs and they are within the forest so the scenery is nice.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by pitanan
    The only bears you will find in the area are black bears and unless you get between a mother/cub or a bear and his food...you won't have any problems. If it makes you feel better you could ride with a giant can of pepper spray like Dog the bounty hunter uses
    Don't worry about it, if a bear sees you it will probably go in the opposite direction.

    Bear spray is more potent than what Dog uses.
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    If you are looking for singletrack you will have a tough time beating Chicopee and you won't get eaten by bears there. However, it isn't exactly in the mountains. According to my Edge if you ride everything there you will get a little over 2,000 feet in elevation gain and somwhere around 20 miles. It is a great trail system.

    If you decide to ride in the N. Georgia Mountians try to hitch on with a local who can show you around. It is easy to get lost and that sucks. Especially in this heat.

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    If riding Forrest Service roads suits you, I used to ride a loop outside of Helen called the Upper Hooch. It is in Jim Parham's book. It was 13 to 17 miles with one long climb and a long downhill that at the time was closed to autos. Pretty ride along the river for the begining of the ride.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyrjm
    Bear spray is more potent than what Dog uses.
    Did I say that Dog uses bear spray?
    Quote Originally Posted by pitanan
    If it makes you feel better you could ride with a giant can of pepper spray like Dog the bounty hunter uses .
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  33. #33
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    Just rode Bull Mountain today, and I still have all my limbs. No bear sighting here.

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    Pinhoti's along with Bear Creek are well worth your time. Mulberry Gap offers shuttles to the trail heads if you have limited time.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by jkeo770
    Just rode Bull Mountain today, and I still have all my limbs. No bear sighting here.
    But there was plenty of bear poop on the trail....

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by jkeo770
    Just rode Bull Mountain today, and I still have all my limbs. No bear sighting here.
    I spotted a bear near the Jake Mountain trailhead last month.
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by muell
    any precautions I should take? biggest thing in my area is a bobcat and Ive never seen one while riding. I dont think I can outrun a bear.

    You don't need to outrun the bear, just the people that you are with.

  38. #38
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    Saw my first bear on the trail while riding at Fort Mountain, it was a pretty cool experience. 2nd bear siting was while hiking in the smokies, that was cool as well. I wouldn't be too worried about riding, but if you are camping be sure to take all the precautions and use a bear box or bag, don't leave food on you or in your tent. The bears are more scared of you then you are of them, but they still look for easy food.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gapper
    Pinhoti's along with Bear Creek are well worth your time. Mulberry Gap offers shuttles to the trail heads if you have limited time.
    MG also now offers package deals with Atlanta Outfitters to provide you a guide for your trip, not just a shuttle to the top of a downhill run. Or just call us and we'll make your arrangements for you, including lining out an itinerary to ride the mileage and types of trails you want to enjoy!
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  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gapper
    Pinhoti's along with Bear Creek are well worth your time. Mulberry Gap offers shuttles to the trail heads if you have limited time.
    Yesterday I saw a bear while riding Pinhoti sections 1, 2, and 3. The black bear was near the end of section 2. He was about 50 feet in front of me when he came up out of the creek bed and ran up the bank into the cover.

    I was the first rider in our group, about 100 in front of the second rider. By the time the second rider made it to me the bear was long gone.

    Black bears have a reputation for being very timid. You should consider yourself lucky if you see a bear. Several times while riding only 20 feet behind the lead rider I have missed seeing bears that the lead rider saw. Most bear encounters last only a few seconds, before the bear runs out of sight. In other words, you will not have enough time to even think about pulling your camera out to snap a photo.

  41. #41
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    I had an encounter with mama and cub this weekend at Ft Mtn. Let me assure you that you could have taken as many pictures as you wanted to. She charged off the hill and stood in the middle of the trail and didn't back down. I had to turn around and ride out the way I came. She was very aggresive toward me. I talked to the park ranger and he said they have had a lot of bear activity due to the lack of rain this year. This year alone I have seen 4 bears. In my first 10 years of riding I think I had only seen 3 or 4.
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  42. #42
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    Bear sightings are very common on P1,2,3 and Bear Creek but as you say, momentary and a privilege to see. My son ran up on 2 small cubs on P1 a few weeks ago. He glanced around knowing the mamma was somewhere near by and saw (and heard) her charging toward him with a 3rd baby running behind. Thankfully he could continue going downhill and she didn't pursue. Said when he got to a point that he could stop and take a breath, he was shaking all over!!

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Minimalist
    But there was plenty of bear poop on the trail....
    I did see alot of poop while out there, but I thought those were horse poop?

  44. #44
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    This year i have had 3 bear sightings within 2 weeks. the first bear was the largest black bear i have ever seen. the second two were average size. while they are usually timid and run away, there have been incidents of violent encounters. a few years ago there was a young child mauled by a black bear at chilhowee. however i don't think that they would mess with anyone on a bike.

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