FATS – short for Forks Area Trail System. This is a special place. It’s kinda in the boonies – a little over 2 hours from Atlanta, but well worth the drive. It’s in the Sumter National Forest of South Carolina, just across the border from Augusta, Georgia. Being an IMBA Epic trail for a while, it’s been on my radar – but I wasn’t sure when I’d have the chance to get there. Luckily, my friend Chris, who I met at SSWC in Alaska, lives in Atlanta and he wanted to hit FATS this weekend – so off we went.
It’s always nice having local knowledge, and I was stoked to have Chris show me the goods. The route he took me on was stellar, creating a memorable day. If you’ve got one day to ride here – I’d suggest the route we did. 25 miles of 100% singletrack magic. Great Wall to Skinny to Brown Wave. Back to the car for an ice cold Sweetwater IPA before slaying Deep Step. We wanted to get back to ATL for dinner (tacos at Tin Lizzy’s), but if you have more time, then hit the north trails as well (Big Rock and Tower).
I’m not gonna get into detailed trail descriptions. The SORBA web page does a great job of that. All I’m gonna say is that this is some of the best singlespeed (and rigid) terrain I’ve ever ridden. Cross-country riders of all skill levels will be in paradise. The tread of the trail is smooth and buttery and grippy and FAST. Visibility is usually high, so you’re enticed to open up the throttle. Be careful. It’s easy to go blazing fast, so don’t ruin yourself. This is a purpose-built trail network, with mountain biking flow taken into account on every inch of these pristine ribbons of singletrack. You’re protected from the sun by the dense forest, so even though it was 80 wile riding, it was still comfy. I saw a turtle on the trail, which was a first for me. One of the highlights was a whooped out section of Brown Wave. It was a roller coaster which reminded me of a shorter version of Rib Cage at Phil’s World. Never any sustained climbing. After short, punchy bursts, you were back on the prowl. Such a blast. Thank you to the local Sorba group and their amazing volunteer effort to get this trail system built! Such a great example of what can be achieved when mountain bikers put their heads together and have support of the local land managers.