Forks Area Trail System (FATS)

FATS
Skinny
Skinny
Skinny
Skinny
Skinny
Skinny
Brown Wave
Brown Wave
Brown Wave
Brown Wave
Brown Wave
Brown Wave
Great Wall
Great Wall
Great Wall
Great Wall
Great Wall
Great Wall
Deep Step
Deep Step
Deep Step
Deep Step
Deep Step
Deep Step
Big Rock
Big Rock
Big Rock
Big Rock
Big Rock
Big Rock
Big Rock
Big Rock
Tower
Tower
Tower
Tower

FATS is a 37 mile multi-loop style novice to intermediate trail system. Nestled in the Long Cane Ranger District of the Sumter National Forest. FATS is the crown jewel of CSRA trails and for good reason; FATS has something for everyone. With few technical features FATS is a great place to get novice riders hooked on the sport. While the excellent flow and high speed sections combined with its high mileage keeps seasoned riders coming back for.

In 2009 FATS was awarded IMBA Epic status, and in 2010 was the host trail for the annual IMBA World Mountain Bike Summit. The trails have been highlighted in several magazines, including BIKE, Blue Ridge Outdoors, and a series of web articles for Bicycling just to name a few.

FATS consists of six individual loops, each with their own character and feel. There are two parking lots to access FATS. The South Trailhead is the main parking lot adjacent to the southern loops: Brown Wave, Skinny, Great Wall, and Deep Step. The North Trailhead is adjacent to the northern loops of Big Rock and Tower.


South Trailhead


Skinny

Trailforks

Skinny is a 6 mile loop that provides an excellent introductory loop to the FATS trails. A bypass allows trail users to reduce the length of the overall trail by half and avoid the central piece of the trail. This trail is one of the novice focused trails but still provides plenty of challenges for more advanced riders. There are 5 power line crossing over the course of Skinny’s six miles.

Clockwise

Skinny offers a fast and flowing ride with few climbs. Keep left at the bypass intersections to ride the full trail. The only bench on Skinny is at the Brown Wave connector which occurs in the first two miles. The final power line crossing occurs immediately before the bench at the intersection of Skinny and Great Wall.

Counter Clockwise

Skinny changes very little riding counter clockwise. The trail continues to be fast and flowing. The bench at the Brown Wave connector can be found around the 4 mile mark. Note that running counter clockwise means the final two miles are a climb out.

Brown Wave

Trailforks

Brown Wave is a 5.4 mile entry level intermediate loop accessible from the Skinny Trail. The access point for Brown Wave is 2 miles in from Skinny clockwise which brings the total distance to 9.6 miles. This trail gets it’s name from its flowing descents and jump line. This trail is generally novice oriented but novice riders should be wary. This trail is known for fast lines that can lead riders into jump sections at high speed.

Clockwise

Brown Wave will very early on provide fast, flowy riding. There is a signed directional split with a jump line shortly after the first road crossing. The jump line is so popular some riders choose to park on the access road and only ride this section. Following the first split is a second signed directional split for another fast section. Directional portions of the trail are signed. After the second crossing the trail descends to the river for the only bench on this trail. The remainder of the trail is a steady, undulating climb back out to the connector.

Counter Clockwise

Brown Wave begins with a steady downhill. There are a few climbs and two small rock gardens before an exciting series of downhills to the river. This is the section the trail is named for. You will encounter the bench later in the ride following this direction. From the bench is a steady climb out that grows steep after the first road crossing. Keep an eye out for the directional signs as you proceed to the second road crossing. Once you reach the second road crossing the trail levels out as you proceed back to the connector to Skinny.

Great Wall

Trailforks

Great Wall is a 7.5 mile entry level intermediate loop. This trail is fast, flowy, and incorporates fun and challenging features. Notable features include the great wall for which the trail is named, a rock bridge, small rock gardens and a challenging switchback.

Clockwise

Great Wall starts with a steep and constant downhill section with a few steep climbs into another downhill section. There are several fun downhill sections on this trial but they are paired with steady and sometimes short, steep climbs. About three quarters of the way through the trail you will encounter a series of downhill switch backs locally known as Ewok Village. Ewok Village is the only hand built section of Great Wall and presents an excellent opportunity for skill work. Once you reach the last half mile of the trail you have a steeper climb back to the parking lot.

Counter Clockwise

Great Wall starts with a downhill section with a few brief climbs into a switchback and creek crossing. The remainder of the trail follows a climb, descend cadence with very little flat riding. About a quarter of the way through the trail you’ll encounter a section of uphill switchbacks. You will encounter more climbing after the bench than prior following this direction. The final steep climb out takes you to the bench where Great Wall and Skinny intersect.

Deep Step

Trailforks

Deep Step is a 5 mile intermediate loop. Don’t be fooled by the shorter length of this trail. Deep Step is a root filled challenging trail. This trail is the only south trail to offer 100 feet of climbing for every mile. Deep Step gets its name from a popular fishing hole in the nearby Savannah River.

Deep Step incorporates a section of the old illegal Tower trail that was used in the 90s.

Deep Step offers a connector to the north trail head. Follow the connector to the paved road. You will follow the paved road to a gravel road that climbs to the north trailhead.

Clockwise

Deep Step offers fast descents paired with very challenging climbs. You will encounter Deep Steps most “notable” feature, a steel toilet, very early in your ride. Clockwise direction specifically leads to a steep, sustained, and root dense climb toward the end of the ride.

Counter Clockwise

Local riders prefer to ride Deep Step counter clockwise. The challenging root filled climb clockwise riders are familiar with becomes an exciting root filled descent. This trail direction still offers some very challenging climbs. You will encounter the trails famous landmark of a steel toilet much later in the ride this direction.

Figure 8

A local favorite direction for Deep Step. Start by riding the trail Counter Clockwise. Ride to the second road crossing. Instead of crossing the road follow the road back to the first crossing. Ride the trail Clockwise to the road crossing. Ride the road back to the parking lot. This route allows you to ride both downhill sections without the corresponding climbs.


North Trailhead


Big Rock and Tower offer a different experience from the southern trails. Like Deep Step they both offer more climbing while also offering more challenging features. These trails also have more rugged terrain.

Big Rock

Trailforks

Big Rock is a 4 mile intermediate loop. This trail has several rock outcroppings as well as a bridge carved from a cedar tree.

Counter Clockwise

Riding right from the north parking lot takes you into a brief downhill that proceeds into a sustained climb. You will encounter the cedar bridge early in this direction. As you climb you will encounter an area of large rock outcroppings. With three paths that allow for variable difficulty ranging form a ride around the feature to a 2 foot drop. This trail climbs to the 1.5 mile marker at which point it crosses the road. Many riders choose to ride Big Rock in this direction because this climb represents the majority of the elevation rise on this trail. Once you cross the road there is a brief level ride to the bench where you can either ride the connector to Tower or proceed to the second half of Big Rock. The second half of Big Rock offers several extended descents before a brief climb back to the parking lot.

Tower

Trailforks

Tower is a 4 mile intermediate loop. This trail is named after the nearby observation tower and is crossed in several locations by a gas line.

Clockwise

Tower starts an extended downhill section that leads into an undulating climb. There are several climbs and descents that make Tower a challenging but fun addition to FATS. Once you reach the observation tower for which the trail is named you can ride out to Big Rock.

Counter Clockwise

Tower is a challenging ride in either direction. Every descent will feel hard earned but well worth the climb. You will encounter a descent into a switchback fairly early in the ride. The final climb out takes you back down a brief connector to Big Rock.