Ross Forest is a unique place—sitting on 7,500 acres, the forest has been owned by the Ross family since 1881. The current owner is John J. Ross, an outdoor enthusiast who has also been recognized for his conservation efforts, and has opened the trails to mountain bikers. While you might have thought you’ve seen it all, the Ross Forest in Savannah is largely undiscovered by the masses, so if you’re on the hunt for lush forest, less-trafficked trails, and all around biking glory, you’ve found it. It’s technically on private property and is a haven for not just outdoor adventurers, but also for birds and other wildlife.
What Makes It Great
Besides Savannah being a cute little town alongside the Tennessee River, the 59 plus miles of trails that the Ross Forest Mountain Bike Refuge within the larger Ross Forest is somewhere that few have been. The trails here are maintained by the local Sugar Camp Hollow International Mountain Bicycle Association (SCHIMBA). They hold group rides on a weekly basis, or you can contact John Ross via the Ross Forest Mountain Refuge Facebook page for permission/information to go out on your own (or Ross himself will go out with you if he is available).
While the combinations are practically endless when you have almost 60 miles to work with, the most popular established trail is the 4.5-mile Sugar Camp Hollow Trail. The route weaves through the hardwood forest and includes a waterfall, an abundance of wildflowers, a wetland reserve area, a beaver pond, and creek crossings. It’s mostly singletrack and clocks in at an easy 3% grade.
Who is Going to Love It
The Ross Forest area is probably too advanced for true beginners, but everyone else should be able to find something that fits their skillset based on the sheer size of the place alone. Bikers who like to take the road less traveled will revel in the largely unknown spot that’s often overlooked and, thus, incredibly pristine and filled with solitude. Those who like a navigation challenge will be happy too—there’s a lot out there and you’ll have to keep your wayfinding wits about you if you venture too far out.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Savannah, getting to the forest at 275 Cold Spring Loop is a quick and easy drive down Highway 69 south. Once you pass the airport you’re almost there!
The area is open year round, but may be closed during hunting seasons.