Mountain biking in North Carolina
North Carolina is a prime mountain biking destination in the United States, with something for all levels - from extreme downhills to relaxed rides on gravel roads.
Asheville, Brevard and greater Western North Carolina is an idyllic destination for a mountain biker looking for a new adventure.
From the epic and technical downhill tracks of Pisgah National Forest to the slowing singletrack of Dupont State Forest, all levels of off-road cyclists will be satisfied. You’ll ride past innumerable waterfalls and pedal through lush, green terrain.
Off the bike, you won’t be disappointed, with the best craft brewers in the USA in the area. Also, feast on southern barbeque and the south's best food scene!
If you are like most cyclists, you’re in perpetual search of the next new and exciting destination; Western North Carolina is THE mountain biking destination in the United States. We are biased since we are locals and provide bicycle tours in the area, but we know you won’t be disappointed.
From the extreme technical terrain of Pisgah National Forest to the variable and more relaxing trails of Dupont State Forest, all off-road enthusiasts will be satisfied.
In the early days of mountain biking, one of the hot-spots in the United States was Tsali Recreation Area located in the Nantahala National Forest. Many out-of-town riders set themselves up in Brevard and ride in Pisgah National Forest and Dupont State Forest.
If you’re looking for more aggressive riding, you’ll want to target Pisgah National Forest. Comprised of over 500,000 acres, the Pisgah is primarily a hardwood forest with whitewater rivers, waterfalls and hundreds of miles of trails. Some of the more popular and aggressive trails include Black Mountain and Bennett Gap.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed ride, stick to the gravel roads and enjoy the scenery. But get ready to climb! You won’t find a flat spot in Pisgah. If you’re into history visit the first school of forestry in the United States, now preserved at the Cradle of Forestry in America historic site.
For more leisurely (but not dull!) riding try Dupont State Forest. With over 80 miles of trail within its 10,000 acres of wilderness, you won’t have difficulty filling several days of mountain biking. There are many beautiful waterfalls, including Triple Falls, Hooker Falls, and High Falls.
Some of the better riding trails include the flowing Ridgeline Trail and Cedar Rock Trail, which provides a slickrock ride to a panoramic view of the region. If you’re looking for a simple ride on gravel roads, you’ll be satisfied, too - most of the best sightseeing spots are easily reachable from the larger car-free gravel roads.
Off the bike, the area has everything a cyclist would want. The food scene is booming and known to be one of the best foodie destinations in the south. Asheville is known as “Beer City USA”, and for a good reason. You’ll find the best beer; from local upstart brewers to national craft brewers who have located their east coast breweries to the area. Plus there are great sightseeing opportunities in addition to the State and National Forests and Parks.
Another great attraction is the Biltmore Estate - a beautiful house and garden built during the height “Gilded Age” and not to be missed! Also, there are opportunities for craft brewery tours, stand-up paddleboard rides, hiking, canyoneering, and climbing.
The region has it all: Stunning mountain views, epic trails, tasty craft beers, traditional and cutting-edge cuisine, a vibrant art scene, and much more. From the top of Mt. Pisgah to the flowing trails of Dupont State Forest, you can have any off-road experience you desire. The terrain is varied and will satisfy any rider.
TOP 5 EXPERIENCES
1. Pisgah National Forest
This beautiful forest carves through on its way across Western North Carolina and dominates the visual landscape of the region. The flowing lush mountains that make the region picturesque are mostly parts of this National Forest. Technical mountain bikers will find heaven on Pisgah’s trails. The most technical trails are near the towns of Pisgah Forest and Brevard.
2. Craft beer
The perfect post-ride recovery drink, craft beer is the ideal afterword to a hard day in the saddle. The area is known as “Beer City USA”, and has a booming local craft beer scene. Wicked Weed, Burial Brewing, Pisgah Brewing, Green Man are at the top of a list of local craft brewers too long for this guide. The scene, plus the great mountain water, and the central location on the Eastern Seaboard of the USA has attracted larger craft brewers to set up their east-coast facilities in the area.
3. Dupont State Forest
If you’ve ever seen the movies 'Last of the Mohicans' or the first 'Hunger Games', you’ve seen this beautiful state forest. Nestled south-west of Asheville, near Brevard, it is a regular destination for mountain bikers. In fact, Reeb Ranch, Oskar Blues’ mountain bike park, is located just outside the park’s boundaries. Within the park, you’ll find natural beauty in abundance, with the most striking sites being the waterfalls. All of the falls are accessible by mountain bike.
4. Local food scene
Already home to the best barbeque in the world, the creative vibe of Asheville has expanded into a luscious food scene. You won’t go hungry after a ride in Western North Carolina. A number of award winning chefs have set up shop in Asheville. Top restaurants include Curate, Rhubarb, and Chai Pani. Others to visit are Zambra, White Duck Taco, and French Broad Chocolate.
5. Fall colours
The fall colours in Western North Carolina are stunning. Ride the Blue Ridge Parkway and through Pisgah National Forest at the right time and you’ll see the bright reds, yellows, and oranges. It rivals any "leaf friendly" area for its beauty in the fall.
WHEN TO VISIT
Best times to go:
The best time to visit the area is between April and October.
April and May are beautiful with the emerging spring green. The summers are not too hot since the area is at an elevation that doesn’t bring high heat or humidity.
Fall is absolutely beautiful, with the mountains bathed in reds, yellows, and oranges.
If you plan to come during the October fall colours please plan ahead as hotels can fill up very early. If you prefer to have smaller crowds avoid the fall.
Our preferred time to ride is in the spring and summer.
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