North Carolina

Wilkesboro – 21 Miles west of I-77 (exit 73)

We’ve been down here twice for the Annual 6hours of Warrior Creek mountain bike race and a number of other Roanokers rave about the 24hours of burn that takes place on the Dark Mountain trails.  These are some great trails that are fast and loaded with burms that can have you going at high speeds into the turns.  Fast and Flowy is the best description.  Get directions along with trail and race information at www.bmcc.us

Kitsuma – 20 Miles east of Asheville at the Ridgecrest Exit – Multi-use

If you are headed to Asheville, I would hit this trail on the way.  It is in Ridgecrest just outside of Asheville.  This is one crazy trail.  It has 14 rideable switchbacks in the first 1.25 miles.  This leads into some ridge riding and then a nice fast downhill into a park.  In the back of the park there is an old abandoned road leading back up to the top of the mountain and where you parked.  Got directions from the trail reviews on www.mtbr.com

Dupont State Forest – South of Asheville between Brevard and Hendersonville. Multi-use

I took the info off the IMBA epic rides link.  I hit a bike shop in Hendersonville to get the official trail map.  Once there we hooked up with some locals for a great ride.

Montreat NCMAP just north of Black Mountain and 15 miles east of Asheville.  Hiking-Running

This place is a must see.  What a beautiful community.  This is home of Montreat College est. 1897.  The scenery here is amazing.  Old growth forest with houses and trails nestled throughout.  When we were here there was no-one around due to the Christmas holiday.  I would have liked to do the Greybeard trails up to Greybeard mtn. had we had enough time before nightfall.  We ran around a couple of the trails and walked around the Convention Center and Lake.

Trace Ridge Trail – 20 minutes south of Asheville – 8-9 mile loop with 1550ft of elevation gain/loss.  Multi-use

I took along the Trails Illustrated Map #780.  This is billed as one of the best rides in Asheville on the Bike NC website and also check out the Hike NC website This was a 9 mile or so loop.  We hike/ran up Trace Ridge and came down on Spencer Branch to the intersection with the Fletcher Creek Trail and then took a left on Fletcher Creek (we could have stayed straight on Spencer Branch but wasn’t sure where it was going to come out. It ends up coming out at the reservoir where we were headed anyway).  At the road we took a right to check out the old reservoir (good place for a picture).  From the reservoir it was about a 1.25 mile run back to the car.

Hiking or running – in either direction to make a loop would be fine.

Biking – I’d prefer to go counter clockwise and end by going down Trace Ridge.  The top of the Spencer Branch trail is hike-a-bike whether you are going up or down.  The last 1/3-1/2 mile gains 400ft of elevation and is full of stairs/waterbars.  The Trace Ridge Trail looses elevation more gradually but has some steeps that would be a blast going down.

Bent Creek – This is just outside of the Asheville City Center.  MAP – Multi-use

This park has 20+ miles of trail ranging from beginner to intermediate.  It also connects up with the foot travel only shut in ridge trail that heads to Mt. Pisgah for another 16 miles of trail.  It is a popular place due to being so close to the city.

Mills River Area – 25 minutes southwest of Asheville.  Multi-use

This area and campground has tons of trails to choose from with trails ranging from intermediate to advanced.  We  have done the Laurel Mountain Loop a couple of times.  I took along the Trails Illustrated Map #780.  You can also get info on this ride at the Bike NC website  This is a fun ride that climbs up the mountain (couple of hike-a-bike sections) and then takes you down on some of the rockiest terrain around.  It is rideable though.  I like rocks, so this downhill was a blast.  You end up riding down rocks and rock slabs with a couple of switchbacks in them.  Tough, but a great challenge to ride without dabbing or dropping a load in your pants.  Casualty factor is high, but you can always get off and walk.  You end with a gravel road climb back to the car.

Shut-In Ridge – This is a 16 (one-way) trail from Bent Creek (by the arboretum) to Mount Pisgah.  Hiking-Running

The trail climbs 3,000 feet. It’s one of the steepest hikes and runs in the Asheville area, but tackle the first three miles of the trail and you’ll be rewarded with a view of the mountains skirting Asheville from the Walnut Cove Overlook.  They hold a trail race here every year.  The winner usually finished in 2 hours 20 minutes.

Turkey Pen Trailhead – This is an access point for a number of trails southwest of Asheville.  Multi-use

This is listed as one of the popular trailheads south of Asheville.  It was a crazy rough drive in on the Forest Service road.  We’ve done a loop hike here.  We started on Vineyard Gap Trail and finished on Riverside Trail.  Riverside wandered back and forth across the south fork of the mills river 6 or 7 times.  This was a fun challenge and a nice way to cool off.

Stone Mountain – Hiking-Running

This is a cool park with a granite mountain at it’s center.  This is off of I-77 headed to Charlotte.  Get off on Zephr Road and head west.  Follow the signs to the park.  It is a popular place for rock climbers.  We’ve stopped here a number of times to get in a 4-5 mile run on the Stone Mountain Loop including Cedar Rock and Wolf Rock Trail.  Once you start climbing on the mountain you will start to see divots in rock where lightning has struck it.  Pretty cool.  We always make a loop by hiking up the huge granite mountain, running along the top, and back.

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