Underexposed is a series dedicated to showcasing trails around North America that fly under the proverbial radar for most riders. PEARL iZUMi athlete Brice Shirbach has seen firsthand what sweat equity can mean among mountain bikers and its impact on the places we call home, and this series will look to help open eyes and shift our attention to some of the brilliant riding that exists in places both unexpected and unheard of.
Roswell, GA is located in northern Fulton County, roughly 20 miles or a 25-minute drive north of the southern metropolis of Atlanta. The 8th largest city in the state is flanked to the south by the venerable Chattahoochee River, and into that flows Big Creek, which works its way through Fulton County for 27 miles before it joins up with its big brother en route to the Gulf of Mexico.
Big Creek is also the name of Roswell’s trail network, which is home to seven miles of XC and “freeride” trails, in addition to two pumptracks and a dirt jump section. The mileage isn’t going to impress many people, but it’s the quality of the decidedly limited quantity of trails that I want to bring attention to, particularly the “freeride” section. I use the quotations there as I’m never entirely sure what “freeride” actually means, as I tend to see it all as just riding trail, but I suppose in this case it’s meant to imply that the trails were built specifically for those looking to snag some air miles and high speeds. These trails are all directional, with a dedicated climbing trail that provides access. There are 8 downhill trails in addition to the climbing trail and two dirt jump lines, with a rating system that ranges from single black to triple black diamond. All of Big Creek was built and is maintained by the Roswell Alpharetta Mountain Bike Organization, otherwise known as RAMBO, a chapter of SORBA and “dedicated to fostering relationships with community leaders & land managers, promotes volunteerism, and outdoor recreation that is consistent with environmental protection, thereby strengthening the community and quality of life”.
The thing I find most striking about the trails here at Big Creek Park is the seemingly artful optimization of what might otherwise be considered limited topographic opportunities. There’s not much in terms of elevation available, much less open space, but when you consider the amount of urban sprawl that surrounds Atlanta, you have to admire what RAMBO has accomplished with these trails. If you give mountain bikers a molehill, we’ll find a way to make a mountain out of it, and I can’t think of a more appropriate way to kick this series off than with a trip to Big Creek in Roswell, Georgia.