The Pisgah Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest contains hundreds of miles of fabulous trails that seem almost specifically designed for a mountain bike.
Whether it’s your first time on a mountain bike or you’ve been exploring trails on a bike for years, Pisgah National Forest has trails to fit your mood and ability level.
The North Mills area of Pisgah, located 30 minutes south of Asheville off Highway 280, contains a network trails with names like Fletcher Creek, Spencer Branch, and Trace Ridge, to name a few. These trails, combined with a closed gravel road known as the Never Ending Road, provide some of the best samplings that Pisgah has to offer mountain bikers. All of these trails can be accessed from the parking area at the Trace Ridge Trailhead.
An excellent guidebook to the area and great source of information about the trails is Off the Beaten Track Volume II: A Guide to Mountain Biking in Western North Carolina by Jim Parham. As Parham’s book is one in a series he has written about mountain biking in the southeast, be sure and purchase the Pisgah section of the series. This book, combined with a good map of the Pisgah Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest (The Trails Illustrated Topo Map is great) are excellent guides for discovering the best rides that Pisgah has to offer.
The trails in the North Mills area of Pisgah have a little something for everyone. Fletcher Creek is a great challenge for the beginning rider: rolling hills, creek crossings, and a steep descent (or ascent depending on the direction you ride the trail.) Spencer Branch provides a step up in challenge for the intermediate rider: a steep challenging technical descent on its first leg and a fast smooth ride on its second leg. And for those of you looking for a ride that will truly test your endurance and leave your legs burning, Trace Ridge has everything you need: a long steep ascent laced with rocks and roots galore. The beauty of the North Mills area is that all of these trails can be combined with the Never Ending Road (FS 5097), a closed gravel road, to meet all energy levels. From the Never Ending Road and the Trace Ridge Parking area, you can access each of these trails independently for fun, fast 1 -2 hour rides, or combine several trails in loops, figure eights, and various sorts of combinations for a long day of intense mountain biking.
Whichever trail or combination you decide to ride, however long you decide to spend in the forest, the splendor of Western North Carolina’s beauty will surround you. And what better time to ride than now, when the stage is set for the fall show.
(Photos provided by Pisgah National Forest.)