Path through the forest at Cochran Mill Nature Preserve in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia.

Cycling Georgia’s ‘Dirty Sheets’ Route

Photo: DevanStewartPhoto/Shutterstock

Uncover this hidden gravel ride on the south side of downtown Atlanta.

Chattahoochee Hills is a quiet town 30 minutes south of Atlanta that somehow has escaped the rapid development that characterizes the rest of Metropolitan Atlanta. So, you’ll still find vast farms and rolling hills studded with dense forests. And some great cycling, too. Road cyclists often retreat to Chattahoochee Hills to ride the bucolic “Silk Sheets,” a 50-mile road route on smooth pavement, and mountain bikers now have a legitimate destination in the area thanks to the 18 miles of trail that have taken shape in Cochran Mill Park since the local community received a $100,000 RTP grant in 2013. But gravel riders don’t need to feel left out of the mix. “Dirty Sheets” is a 20-mile gravel road alternative to the more well-known Silk Sheets that centers on low-traffic, unpaved roads passing through fence-lined farms, hunting clubs and large tracts of forested land. 

Recommended Route 

Unlike many of the gravel routes in North Georgia, these roads pass primarily through private property. So, stick to the roads, and close any gates that you pass through. Also, this ride cobbles together sections of several different roads. If you’re riding Dirty Sheets for the first time, download a detailed GPX file so you have the cues for each turn. To get headed in the right direction: Park at Cochran Mill Park and ride the loop clockwise to get most of the pavement out of the way early, pedaling a short section of the paved Cochran Mill Road right off the bat. The roads form a large loop that’s bisected by South Fulton Parkway (state Route 70). You’ll have a couple of short stretches of pavement, and you will have to cross GA-70, which is busy, twice. You can also tack on any number of dead-end gravel road connectors for out-and-backs if you’re looking to bulk up your mileage. But the main 20-mile loop has just under 1,000 feet of climbing, so it’s relatively mellow when compared to popular rides north of Atlanta.

Highlights of the ride include the mile-long, fast downhill on Hopkins Road, and the long stretch of Vernon Grove Road that passes through the middle of an expansive horse farm. But the best of the ride is saved for last with the gated 4.6-mile Upper Wooten Road, which rolls through the woods on a surface that’s just a hair more maintained than double-track. Keep an eye out for deer and wild turkey throughout the entire ride. Upper Wooten Road finishes at Cochran Mill Park, so if you have the legs for it, and the right bike, you can tack on some purpose-built singletrack as well. 

Getting There 

Dirty Sheets is 30 minutes southwest of Atlanta. Take Interstate 85 south to South Fulton Parkway and follow it (GA-70) to Cochran Mill Park.  

More Info 

Cochran Mill Park has a bathroom and an opportunity to fill up water bottles. Keep an eye on the weather; the gravel roads get muddy after heavy rains and should be avoided: 

Refresh & Refuel

Chattahoochee Hills is also home to Serenbe, a planned community with a wellness emphasis. For visitors, that translates to some great restaurants. Blue Eyed Daisy is the spot for coffee and pastries. For a healthy lunch, grab a sandwich or soup from the veggie-forward Halsa.  

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.