Forks Area Trail System, Augusta, GA
The Forks Area Trail System—FATS for short—is a stellar example of how world-class mountain biking facilities can be built nearly anywhere. Located in the dense pines of South Carolina’s Sumter National Forest, FATS’ 35 miles of singletrack trail are uniquely flowing and roller-coaster-like, a result of the erosion of underlying terrain by cotton field clearing a century ago. The trails are so enjoyable that they regularly draw riders from across the Southeast and even the Mid-Atlantic states.
FATS’ success—the first 25 miles were built in only seven months—can be attributed to the close partnership between the Central Savannah River Area chapter of the Southern Off-Road Bicycling Association (CSRA-SORBA), which contributed 2,500 hours of volunteer labor to trail construction; the U.S. Forest Service, which manages the land; and trail builders Long Cane Trails, which designed FATS and secured $200,000 in Recreational Trails Program funds for its construction.
While FATS attracts tourism from around the world—recently it hosted the International Mountain Biking Asociation’s 2010 World Summit—it also has improved the health of the local community. It is estimated that two-thirds of FATS users didn’t ride a bike before the trails were built. With hundreds of kids and adults getting off the couch and onto bikes, no doubt due to the high quality of the trails, one of the most obese parts of the country (1/4 of Georgia adults don’t exercise at all) is becoming healthier one pedal stroke at a time.
• 35 miles of singletrack trail
• Constructed Aug. 2005-May 2008
• 200-300 users/day
• City population: 190,782
• 2/3 of users didn’t bike before FATS
• 20% of users travel from outside area
• Nearest bike shop had annual double- digit sales increase when trails were built
• $200,000 in Recreational Trails Program grants
• $25,000 in U.S. National Park Service Centennial Challenge Fund Grants
• 2,500 volunteer hours
View and download a PDF of the project.