The days are heating up. And with that, so are your options to get outside and enjoy all that Western North Carolina has to offer!
Did you know that our little corner of the world has some of the oldest mountains and rivers in the world? While the Smokies, the Blue Ridge, and areas in between see carloads of visitors throughout the warm months, there’s something truly magical about experiencing local nature at the start of the season. Get out of the car, breathe that fresh mountain air, and find a bike ride that is exactly as challenging and nature-rich as you want.
Not sure where to start? As experts in the region, our Beverly-Hanks agents are well versed in local biking hotspots—in the mountains and in town. We asked them: Where are the best bike rides in WNC?
Mountain Bike Riding Trails
Can’t find a parking spot at the more popular trail heads in our area this season? Plan a trip to Weed Patch Mountain near Lake Lure. This trail system winds through huge old growth forests, over and through many streams, with multiple climbs to amazing vista views. Access will be near Eagle Rock or the Buffalo Creek trail system near Rumbling Bald. Intermediate to advanced trail. I hope to see you out here!
This is for the mountain biking moms and dads who are short on time but still love to get out: In Pisgah Forest, I highly recommend the Thrift Cove to Lower Black Mountain loop if you have less than an hour. Or try Maxwell Cove for a slightly longer ride at close to 1.5 hours. Both offer a great climb and a super fun downhill without being too technical. If DuPont is your preference, Jim Branch to Ridgeline is fun, fast, and relatively short. The Hickory Mountain Loop is one of many options to add on if your schedule permits.
There are biking opportunities all over WNC, but my family enjoys the Cataloochee Park in the Great Smoky Mountains, just minutes from our Waynesville home. We often see elk or bear along the ride. It makes for a wonderful Sunday afternoon adventure.
One of my favorite places to ride is the Fire Mountain Trail System in Cherokee, NC. There is a choice of single track or double track trail to the top, which are not technical, but the climbing does make this an intermediate to advanced trail system. The reward for your climbing efforts can be found on the directional descent of Kessel Run, a purpose-built descent with berms, tabletops, and a few wooden bridges. By continuing to the very bottom of the mountain, you can pick up the Skilly Trail which is designed with wooden features and tabletops to help develop more technical riding ability. If you are riding mountain bikes west of Asheville, this is a must-ride trail system.
A little over five years ago at the age of 51, I started mountain biking, and I have not looked back once. After being an avid horseback trail rider for most of my life, I retired one saddle for another. I can still be in the woods, but up on two wheels getting some of the best exercise I know. Living and working in the Brevard area, I feel as if there is a huge playground literally in my back yard. Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Forest are those playgrounds where I predominantly ride. It’s hard for me to choose a favorite ride, but one of my faves is pedaling up 476 B and down Cove Creek in Pisgah, especially at the end where you get wet crossing the big creek. (Footbridge to be constructed over Cove Creek.) No matter your age or ability, mountain biking is a great way to enjoy the woods, unplug from technology, and do some good for your mind and body!
Davidson River Campground in Pisgah Forest is a wonderful, level bike ride along the river. It’s a perfect outing for almost any time of year, as enjoyed by many locals.
I love Bent Creek for a nearby ride. The location makes it an easy spot for a quick post-work ride. They have a variety of trails, which include a lot of easy and medium options, making it a great place for anyone new to mountain biking.
I’m 55 years old and an avid mountain bike rider! I love introducing friends and clients to new trails and helping them push the envelope on climbing and downhill skills. One of my favorite rides lately starts just up the gravel road from the North Mills River Campground. The climb starts on Wash Creek Road up to Upper Spencer Branch. Cresting the ridge, I drop down Spencer Branch to Fletcher Creek Road (also called Never Ending Road) and then out to Fletcher Creek Trail to continue the downhill to the old Hendersonville Reservoir and the gravel road named after it. The reservoir road brings me back to my car. The natural beauty of the North Mills River area is hard to beat!
Road and Town Bike Riding Routes
My favorite place to go for a bike ride is on the Biltmore Estate. I love to experience the change in seasons—all with the added comfort that if I fall off my bike or get too tired, a shuttle is always nearby!
Start at New Belgium Brewery and wind yourself through woods and varying trails over to French Broad River Park along the river. Still feeling strong? Then keep going a few more miles to Carrier Park and Hominy Creek. Naturally end up back at New Belgium and reward yourself with a Fat Tire, especially on Fat Tire Fridays…only $3!
Whether your preference is mountain biking, gravel, or road, there’s no shortage of amazing trails and roads to traverse through these majestic mountains. Being a roadie, one of my favorites is the consistently scenic beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway where the stunning long-range vistas never disappoint. From my house in Weaverville to the top of Mt. Mitchell and back (66 miles and 8,500ft of elevation), it’s a rare opportunity to experience both pain and pleasure simultaneously. Pro tip: Avoid the Parkway during leaf season when cars will outnumber cyclists tenfold.
Follow the winding roads of North Asheville. Start out downtown and ride up and over Beaucatcher Mountain via MLK Drive and Beaumont Street to connect into Chunns Cove. Chunns Cove takes you to the beginning of the first series of climbs for the day with the gravel of Vance Gap. A quick right on Town Mountain up to Old Toll, and take a breather as you drop down to take a right on Sunset Drive. An undulating mile takes you to the bottom of Patton Mountain and the second gravel section of the day. Right onto Patton, and keep going until you see the Governor’s Western Residence and the large cistern. A quick left, and you drop back down to Town Mountain. Take a left to finish your Town Mountain climb, and descend to the Blue Ridge Parkway. A left before you hit the Parkway puts you on the gravel of Webb Cove for a quick drop to Beaverdam Road. Take the flats of Beaverdam past the golf course and YMCA and left onto Kimberly Avenue. Follow Kimberly back toward downtown past the Grove Park Inn and other historic houses. A right onto Charlotte Street and you’ll find bike lanes to guide you back to downtown. The perfect urban gravel assault.
Two of my favorite go-to road rides are as follows—both with different challenges and vibes, depending on what you are in the mood for:
(1) Paint Fork to Beech Glen in Mars Hill – Ample parking at the Forks of Ivy shopping area allows for a steady and easy start toward Beech Glen Road, which follows Little Ivy Creek to the Beech Glen Community Center, and then a right on Paint Fork. Beautiful steady low-key climb past picturesque farmland and turn-of-the-century homes and barns. Easy turn around at Robinson Road for an amazing out-and-back and lots of spurs for additional mileage. Very little vehicular traffic makes this ride even more enjoyable. Out-and-back is approximately 22 miles.
(2) Old Fort to Black Mountain Loop – Start at the Old Fort Ride House in Old Fort (with a pre-ride shot of espresso at the Ride House if you are so inclined). Leave downtown heading west on Commerce Street, and make your way to Old Highway 70. Eventually Old Highway 70 becomes Point Lookout Trail, which is an old roadbed now just used for walking and cycling—a sweet steady climb to Ridgecrest and Black Mountain. Keeping up the Italian cycling traditions, stop for more espresso (and maybe a slice of homemade pound cake) in downtown Black Mountain at the Dripolater, and then take Highway 9 over the Eastern Continental Divide down to Old Fort Road, which takes you back into Old Fort after a 7+ mile descent! At about 34 miles or so when you finish, it’s time to grab a brew and burger at the Old Fort Hillman Brewing before you get back in your car. A super ride and a great way to spend a sunny morning or afternoon.
Live Near Your Favorite Bike Rides and Mountain Trails!
Among the many ways we Live Abundantly in WNC is through access to some of the best outdoor amenities and natural features in the Southeast and—dare we say it?—in the world. Find a home near one of the great local bike trails mentioned in this post!
- Bearwallow Mountain, Clear Creek, Terrys Gap – Search for homes in Edneyville.
- Beaverdam Road, Beaucatcher Mountain, Blue Ridge Parkway, Charlotte Street, Chunns Cove, Grove Park Inn, Kimberly Avenue, Old Toll, Patton Mountain, Sunset Drive, Town Mountain, Vance Gap, Webb Cove – Search for homes in North Asheville.
- Beech Glen, Forks of Ivy, Paint Fork – Search for homes in Mars Hill.
- Bent Creek, Biltmore Estate, Carrier Park, French Broad River Park, New Belgium Brewery – Search for homes in Asheville.
- Blue Ridge Parkway – Search for homes in Weaverville.
- Cataloochee Park – Search for homes in Waynesville.
- Cove Creek, Pisgah National Forest – Search for homes in Brevard.
- Davidson River Campground, DuPont State Forest, Hickory Mountain Loop, Jim Branch Trail, Maxwell Cove, Thrift Cove – Search for homes in Pisgah Forest.
- Dripolator, Ridgecrest – Search for homes in Black Mountain.
- Fire Mountain Trail System – Search for homes in Cherokee.
- flat roads – Search for homes in Etowah.
- Fletcher Creek Trail, North Mills River Campground – Search for homes in Mills River.
- Eastern Continental Divide, Highway 9, Hillman Brewing, Old Fort Ride House, Old Highway 70, Point Lookout Trail – Search for homes in Old Fort.
- Weed Patch Mountain – Search for homes in Lake Lure.