One of our favorite mountain biking trails is located in an unlikely place. It is an hour south of Greenville, nestled in the cow pastures and country roads of Hartwell, Georgia. The biking trail is a 7 mile loop along Lake Hartwell in Paynes Creek Campground, which is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers. The trail is perfect for any skill level with it’s fairly smooth terrain, rolling jumps, and a nice balance of up and down-hills.
To get to Paynes Creek, take I-85 S until you cross into Georgia and then take exit 177 off the interstate. Turn left off the exit and from there you will see small brown signs guiding you to Paynes Creek. The trail-head is located near the boat ramp in the campground. The trail is not very crowded; at most, I have run into two other bikers. Paynes Creek is a little out of the way and there is not a large network of trails within the park, so that deters a lot mountain bikers.
This is a one-way trail with the direction varying based on the day. At the beginning of the loop you will see a sign designating the direction. I have only biked here are on Saturdays, so I have always gone to the right, but both directions look equally fun. You will immediately be treated to smooth embankments, rolling ascents and descents, and beautiful views of the lake. It normally takes us one hour to complete a loop and we are intermediate mountain bikers. We are pretty tired after one loop, but a lot of people will ride the loop twice.
Once you have finished biking, jump into the lake and cool off!