Bike the Forks Area Trail System

By:Marie McAden


I did the wave this weekend. Not the stand-up-and-throw-your-hands-in-the-air stadium cheer. I’m talking about the much more awesome Brown Wave at FATS.

Formally known as the Forks A​rea Trail System, this mountain biking wonderland features a 32-mile network of “flow” trails that allow adrenaline-junkie cyclists to fly across undulating terrain like a downhill skier.

In just a few short years, FATS has become one of the most popular mountain biking destinations in the Southeast. On any given weekend, you’ll find the parking lot full of cyclists who have traveled from near and far for the thrill of riding these single-track trails.

This summer, FATS made the pages of The Wall Street Journal in a story showcasing the 11 best flow trails in the country. It has been highlighted in several magazines, including Bike and Bicycling, and was awarded “Epic Ride” status by the International Mountain Bicycling Association.

Located in the Long Cane Ranger Di​strict of Sumter National Forest near Edgefield, FATS offers six individual loop trails, each with their own distinctive character and feel. The trails’ swooping turns, rolling hills and banked contours make for an action-packed ride you won’t experience on your average hiking trail.

That’s because FATS was built specifically for mountain biking. Jumps, bumps, dips and berms were created to keep riders flowing unimpeded through the thick forest of trees almost like a pump track.

And therein lies the genius of this mountain biking masterpiece. Sporting few technical features, FATS allows newbies to have lots of high-flying fun without tremendous effort. They can ride the brakes over the sections of seemingly endless mounds and dips and still experience the thrill of a rollercoaster ride.

On those same trails, hardcore riders can go flat out and spend as much time off the ground as on it. Optional lines provide more challenges for those with the mettle to brave the hazards.

As for the occasional fallen logs, most of those have been placed across the track to offer both high and low crossing options. Another great thing about these trails: there aren’t a whole lot of bone-rattling roots typically found on hiking trails. They were purposefully removed to create a luge effect.

In an upcoming blog, I’ll tell you about the two trails I rode — Brown Wave and Skinny.

You can find out more about FATS at the Southern Off Road Bic​ycle Association website.

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