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Bicycling & Mountain Biking

Riders cycle through a small WNC town.

Many miles of scenic roads in the Blue Ridge Mountains and foothills of North Carolina are designated bike routes and are popular for both day outings and competitive riding events. There are also hundreds of miles of bike trails and annual bike tours to participate in throughout the NC mountains.

The Blue Ridge mountains and foothills in North Carolina also offer some of the finest mountain biking in the country. Each year, thousands of mountain bikers traverse the many first-rate trails that wind throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Some come to compete in well-known races, while others come purely for fun and pleasure.

Cycling on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is the best-known of these roads, and motorists share the way with road cyclists and mountain bikers all year round. North of Asheville, the Parkway leads to Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi. Each spring, cyclists and mountain bikers from across the country come to participate in the “Assault on Mount Mitchell,” a 100-mile race along the 5,000 foot ascent to the peak.

Other Bicycling Routes in WNC

The “Road to Nowhere” in the far western mountains is a lightly traveled road that winds for eight miles into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park north of Bryson City and offers a moderate ride with great views of Fontana Lake.

Western North Carolina’s small towns are also excellent destinations for riders who like to stop for a good restaurant, ice cream parlor, historic site, or craft gallery.

The City of Asheville has miles of bicycle-friendly roadways along which cyclists can travel to many local attractions.

Popular Mountain Biking Trails

Tsali Recreation Trail System

One of the most popular mountain biking areas is the world-famous Tsali Recreation Trail System near Stecoah. This 42-mile network of multi-use trails is consistently rated as one of the top ten mountain biking destinations in the United States. A series of annual National Off-Road Bicycle Association (NORBA) sanctioned races is held in this area.

Santeelah Lake Trail

The Santeetlah Lake Trail is a 15 mile trail open to mountain bikes, horses, and hikers. The trail follows a number of open and gated Forest Service roads with a short portion of single-track.  Large sections of the trail hug the shoreline of Lake Santeetlah offering beautiful mountain lake views.

Bent Creek Research and Demonstration Forest

The Bent Creek Research and Demonstration Forest near Asheville contains ten named trails and many other miles of gravel roads.

Mills River Watershed

The Mills River watershed has the largest number of biking trails in Western North Carolina. The trails run from Bent Creek Gap in the north to the Pink Beds near the Davidson River in the south.

Davidson River Area

Trails in the Davidson River area are rockier, steeper and more challenging than those at Tsali. Many follow old road or railroad beds and have significant erosion problems. Others climb high mountain ridges and are true singletrack treads.

Coleman Boundary

Another area known for its rugged backcountry trails and incredible natural beauty is the Coleman Boundary. Four singletrack trails and an 8-mile gravel road wind through this area, which comprises the watersheds of Carter and Dillingham Creeks in the Pisgah National Forest.

DuPont State Forest

Located near Brevard, the 10,400 acre DuPont State Forest offers a trail system of nearly 80 miles and something more—slickrock. Here mountain bikers can ride over large granite domes or follow trails that lead to the Forest’s six beautiful waterfalls.

South Mountains State Park

Over 18 miles of gravel and forest roads make up the official loop trail in South Mountains State Park. The first six miles of the loop trail are a strenuous climb. Although some roads are extremely rocky double track, they offer challenging high-speed descents and great scenic views.

W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir

The Dark Mountain Trails at the W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir near Wilkesboro offer miles of single track multi-use trails, a part of which is included in a segment of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail.