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Mountain Biking Trails In Western North Carolina

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One of many trail features you will find at mountain biking destinations like Dupont State Forest and Bent Creek.

One of many trail features you will find at mountain biking destinations like Dupont State Forest and Bent Creek.

North Carolina Mountain Biking Trails

The mountain of western North Carolina are home to some of the countries best mountain biking trails. The terrain is as varied as the people you will find riding it. Trails range from rolling hills to some of the steepest and fastest descents on the east coast. A biking trip to WNC is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself.

Starting out in Asheville, NC there are about a dozen fantastic trail system within an hour or so of each other. This article lists and describes five of my favorite mountain biking destinations in the area.

  • Not all trails commonly ridden are legal use for bikes. Always check trail regulations before beginning a new ride.
This is me riding one of the log bridge trail features at Bent Creek. Bent Creek is my favorite mountain biking destination.

This is me riding one of the log bridge trail features at Bent Creek. Bent Creek is my favorite mountain biking destination.

Trail Map Of Bent Creek Forest

This is the original US Forestry Service Trail Map Of Bent Creek Experimental Forest

This is the original US Forestry Service Trail Map Of Bent Creek Experimental Forest

Bent Creek Mountain Biking Trails

Bent Creek is one my favorite of all the major Western North Carolina Trails. It is located in Buncombe County, just south of Asheville. The trails are located inside Bent Creek Experimental Forest and adjacent to the Lake Powhattan Campsites. There are three parking areas, not including the lake, and enough trails to keep even the hardiest trail rider happy all day. On the north side of the You can ride up to Five Points, Hickory Top and eventually Greens Lick. On the south side ride up South Ridge Road and choose one of several ways down. Either way you are looking at about a 4-5 mile climb, either on roads or single track, and then some of the best downhill available in one area. Find a Trail Map of Bent Creek here.

To get to Bent Creek head south on Hwy 191 (Brevard Road) from Asheville. At the Lake Powhattan/ Bent Creek sign turn right and follow the signs until you pass the NC Arboretum. At this point choose between the Rice Pinnacle Parking Lot, Hard Times Trail Head or Ledford Branch Parking lot. All the trails connect together and a great ride is available from each.

Click Here For More Information On The Bent Creek Trails

North Mills River, Pisgah National Forest

The Pisgah Forest trails are located just over the south ridge from Bent Creek in Mills River State Park. The trails of Pisgah Forest and the Mills River Trailhead cover a broader area than Bent Creek and have a much more rugged appeal. The Bent Creek trails get a lot more regular maintenance than those at Mills River. The trails are still good but there are lots of rocks and roots, especially on the lower sections.

It is possible to link rides from Mills River and Bent Creek together. The National Forest Road, as well as the Trace Ridge and Bad Fork Trails, connect with the Blue Ridge Parkway and Wesley Branch Road leading into Bent Creek. From there it is possible to get onto the Lower Sidehill Trail or the Explorer Loop.

Biking North Mills River

Long climbs on forest service roads and technical singletrack are followed by rooty rocky fast descents and big loops that let you ride and ride. During the summer months the lower sections can be very wet with many of the trails becoming indistinguishable from the creeks running into the Mills River.

Pisgah Forest and the Mills River Trailhead is about 30 minutes south of Asheville. To get there take I-26 south until you get to Airport Road and then get off the highway. Turn right onto Airport Road and go straight until you pass highway 191 on your right. Just past this intersection you will find the turn to North Mills River Road on the right. Take this road to the end and you will find the first parking area.

Dupont State Forest Trail Map

Map of Dupont State Forest with major roads, biking trails, rivers and lakes.

Map of Dupont State Forest with major roads, biking trails, rivers and lakes.

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Dupont Forest Has Some Great Mountain Bike Trails

Dupont State Forest in western North Carolina is one of the premiere destinations for mountain biking. The State Forest was established in 1996 after North Carolina purchased the track in a bargain sale from the Dupont Corporation. The original 7,600 acre park was later expanded to over 10,400 acres through additional purchases. Now, more than two decades later, Dupont State Park is home to some of the states best mountain biking, fishing, hiking and scenery. In fact, five of North Carolina's most spectacular waterfall are within the boundaries of the park. The park has also been the backdrop for many movies because of its natural beauty. Parts of "Last Of The Mohicans" and "The Hunger Games" were both filmed here.

Mountain Biking Dupont State Forest

Dupont State Forest offers some unique riding and trails unlike others in the state. Because of its location between Henderson and Transylvania Counties the park is relatively flat compared to the surrounding countryside. The forest is on an upland plateau bordered by moderately sized hills and mountains. Don't get me wrong, this is still a mountain park, it's just less mountainy than some other trails but still a lot of fun. The rides consists of long loops that connect the more than 80 trails and roads into a never-ending supply of new terrain. Biking is allowed on most of the forests trails but so is hiking and horseback riding so be careful.

The trails are well maintained. Most of the work is being done by the local chapter of SORBA and they are doing a good job. Some of the trails even feature special obstacles and jumps that rival those you might find at a bike park. When you're there be sure to climb to the top of Cedar Rock and ride the slick rock on the back side of the peak.

Tips For Mountain Biking North Carolina

  • Take a spare inner tube and pump. The trails can be rocky and rooty, it is easy to puncture a tire or get a "snake bite".
  • Bring plenty of water. The trails are awesome, it is easy to go farther than you intended, so be sure you have plenty of hydration.
  • Bring food. Again, it is easy to go further than you intend, or even to get lost, so bring a snack.
  • Always tell someone where you are going, even if you are going riding with someone else.
  • Lube your chain and derailuers. The trails can be dusty and/or muddy depending on the season. A well lubed chain will stay clean longer and add to your enjoyment of the trails.
  • Go both ways. Most of the trails in WNC can be ridden forward and backward. To get a new ride simply take your favorite route and ride it backwards.

Kitsuma Mountain Biking Trail

Kitsuma Mountain and the Kitsuma biking trail is a great hike and bike ride. The trail leaves from just outside Black Mountain, climbs up the pass alongside I-40 and then drops down some of the fastest single track in the county all the way to Old Fort. The ride is great for shuttling or riding the loop. You can park your trucks at the bottom and drive back up or ride up old Highway 70.

Biking Kitsuma Mountain

The trail starts out moderately with an easy 1/4 mile uphill. That all ends as soon as the trail turns to the left and starts to climb. At this point you will be faced with a series of 2 dozen or more steep as #$%# switchbacks that will leave your legs quivering and your lungs burning. Don't worry, it's totally worth it. The rest of the trail is a series of ripping descents interspersed with short climbs along the ridge line before the final descent into the Old Fort Picnic Area. From here exit the picnic area, turn to the left and follow Old Highway 70 for a laid back and steady climb to the parking lot.

To get to the trail head west on I-40 going towards Black Mountain. Take Exit 66 towards Ridgecrest and then turn right onto Dunsmore Avenue. Take the next left at Yates Avenue and then right onto Royal Gorge Road. The parking lot is at the end of the road.

Map Of Kitsuma Mountain Biking Trail

Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park, Boone NC

Rocky Knob is a great set of trails built by the town of Boone, NC. They have partnered with some industry and local organizations to bring high quality park-like mountain biking to Watauga County. The trail is situated just outside of town on highway 421 east. It currently consists of 3 main trails and some connectors but there are plans to expand. The trails are technical and well built, maximizing mileage in a small amount of acreage.

The climbs are all very gradual, most of the elevation gain is made by a series of long switchbacks that hug the contours of the mountain. There are two skills areas with skinny bridges, log rides, teeter totters and rock drops for all levels of riders. The downhills are like the uphills, gradual with a lot of switchbacks. It is possible to get up some good speed, especially on the black diamond trail, but the switchbacks make it hard to carry it through some of the obstacles.

The black diamond trail was my favorite. It has a series of big jumps leading into the woods followed by a sizeable rock drop and some more jumps. All in all a good place to ride. I will be going back there again very soon, especially since the town of Boone is actively using the park to host all sorts of events.

Click Here For A Trail Map Of Rocky Knob

Map Of Mountain Biking In Western North Carolina

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