Pis­gah Nation­al For­est is the Moun­tain Bike Mec­ca of the East. It’s been on our rid­ing dream map for decades, not we final­ly have your buck­et list spot ready for Sacred Rides prime time.

Hard trails over rock slabs, under a canopy of hard­woods, off-cam­ber roots with some down-right fun and hos­pitable towns to refu­el after a hard day of rid­ing. You will love the Pis­gah Epic for the amaz­ing rid­ing and the wicked fun vibe of the West North Carolina.

The rid­ing in West­ern North Car­oli­na (WNC), specif­i­cal­ly in Pis­gah Nation­al for­est has until recent­ly been over­shad­owed by big­ger name des­ti­na­tions with “more” moun­tain­ous geo­gra­phies. How­ev­er, Pis­gah as its local­ly known, is a gem tucked away in the west­ern cor­ner of North Car­oli­na and has been a go to train­ing area for pro rid­ers, test­ing ground for bike man­u­fac­tur­ers and must ride des­ti­na­tion for cyclists in the know for decades.


The seem­ing­ly end­less trail loops and options here make Pis­gah Nation­al for­est a moun­tain bik­ers play­ground. The ter­rain in Pis­gah is renowned for being some of the burli­est on the east coast; full of rooty and rocky tech­ni­cal trail. Much of the trail sys­tem was built dur­ing the great depres­sion by the Civil­ian Con­ser­va­tion Corps (CCC) as a means to put young men to work. Thus, it was nev­er built with moun­tain bikes in mind, which is much of the rea­son it is so beloved. The trails are too steep, too rocky, too rooty for bikes by many stan­dards, just the kind of thing that makes it great.


Just a few miles from Pis­gah is DuPont State Park with 50+ miles of sin­gle-track and fun grav­el roads. It is less burly and gen­er­al­ly less tech­ni­cal than the rid­ing in Pis­gah and offers a more begin­ner and inter­me­di­ate trail expe­ri­ence. DuPont does host one of the most pop­u­lar flow lines on the East Coast as well as plen­ty of exposed gran­ite slab dubbed the “slick­rock of the East.”

This trip is for expe­ri­enced, fit, and tech­ni­cal­ly strong rid­ers only! Be sure to review our Skill and Fit­ness Rat­ing System for a bet­ter under­stand­ing of what to expect.

Is This Ride For You?

This Ride is for you if long, steep climbs don’t phase you and tech­ni­cal, steep descents excite you! You can han­dle rocky ter­rain (climb­ing and descend­ing), nar­row sin­gle­track, and some expo­sure. You’re com­fort­able and con­fi­dent rid­ing a blend of cross coun­try and all-moun­tain trails. Rid­ing mul­ti­ple days in a row, 3–5 hours per day is no big­gie to you. You live for long days on the bike, reward­ed by the com­forts of a post-ride hot tub soak, a gor­geous lodge, and a chilled beer.

Itinerary

DAY 1. Cove Creek and Daniel Ridge Trails

Our pri­vate shut­tle will meet you at the Asheville Region­al Air­port and shut­tle to the trail­head for our first Pis­gah trail ride, Cove Creek and Daniel Ridge. This is the clas­sic Pis­gah warm up. It starts with a gen­tle climb on sin­gle track to the Cove Creek trail head. Cove Creek is a nice grad­ual climb for a few miles con­tour­ing its way into the for­est. Clas­sic old school con­tour trail. 

We’ll turn onto what was once For­est Ser­vice road 225, now main­ly sin­gle-track. Fol­low this rolling trail through the for­est to Daniel Ridge. We depend­ing on the group we can descent the cov­et­ed “rocky side” of Daniel Ridge or take the not so smooth “smooth” side down. A mile on grav­el gets us back to
the rolling sin­gle-track back to the car. 

Shut­tle back, check into our lodg­ing and get ready for a deli­cious din­ner in town. 

Time on trail: Approx. 3–4 hours

DAY 2.  Big Pis­gah Loop

Be sure to eat a good break­fast for this epic ride. We’ll roll right out of the hotel and head into the Pisgah. 

After a cou­ple miles of pave­ment along the David­son Riv­er we will turn off and start a 5 mile climb on for­est ser­vice road to Buck­horn Gap. 

A few miles of back­coun­try con­tour miles will take us across Buck­horn Gap trail to South Mills Riv­er trail which con­tin­ues along South Mills Riv­er to the start of the famous Squir­rel Gap trail. “Squir­rel” is per­haps some of Pisgah’s most quin­tes­sen­tial old school sin­gle-track dat­ing back to the great depression. 

The 8 miles across squir­rel bring us to the boun­cy tech­ni­cal descent on Mul­li­nax trail down to South Mills riv­er. Cross­ing the riv­er its a cou­ple miles up to the Turkey Pen park­ing lot where the van will be wait­ing with plen­ty of cold beers.

Time on trail: Approx. 4+ hours

DAY 3. DuPont Big Ride

Enjoy a hearty break­fast before head­ing out for the day.

Today we will be tak­ing a break from the roots and rocks of Pis­gah and head over to DuPont State park to ped­al a big loop of all the best trails. We’ll hit the top trails — Ridge­line, Burnt Moun­tain, Lau­rel Moun­tain, Airstrip, Cedar rock and Big Rock (slick­rock of the east). The rid­ing here is gen­er­al­ly less tech­ni­cal, faster rolling with short­er climbs.

Time on trail: Approx. 3+ hours

DAY 4. Spencer Gap

This is a mix of old school Pis­gah and new age trail re-designs. The ride starts with a grav­el road climb up to Spencer Gap trail. Spencer starts steep then backs off with some nice fun rolling ter­rain and small­er rock gar­dens. At the top its a fun row­dy descent on the recent­ly re-worked Spencer Branch trail with hip jumps, berms and plen­ty of flow. At the bot­tom of the descent we roll some undu­lat­ing for­est road a cou­ple miles to Fletch­er Creek trail. After a short climb there’s an all out fast and flowy sec­tion to the bot­tom of the road. A cou­ple mile climb back up to the Trace Ridge park­ing lot where we ride Trace ridge down the moun­tain and across North Mills Riv­er to the park­ing lot.

Time on trail: Approx. 3+ hours

Day 5. Weed Patch

East of the Ranger Dis­trict of Pis­gah lies Lake Lure (Dirty Danc­ing was filmed here) and the crag­gy moun­tain ridge above the lake home to the nation­al­ly acclaimed weed patch moun­tain trail. 

WPMT fin­ished in 2018 has been rec­og­nized as one of the best new trails in the nation. In a cer­e­mo­ny on Capi­tol Hill, the nation­al Coali­tion for Recre­ation­al Trails announced its annu­al achieve­ment award in the cat­e­go­ry of trail design and con­struc­tion. Its 10 miles of rugged rocky out­crops and fun tech­ni­cal sec­tions drop over 2400 ft down to the Buf­fa­lo creek on the shores of Lake Lure. A post ride pon­toon cruise takes us back across the lake to our Cabins.

Time on trail: Approx. 3+ hours

Day 6. Heart Break Ridge & Kitsuma

Today is an Epic ride. One that will leave the locals who hear of it drool­ing. It’s usu­al­ly one or the oth­er, unless you’re pre­pared for a mon­ster grind between the two, but today because we have a shut­tle we’ll get both. We’ll get the added bonus of start­ing from Mount Mitchell, the high­est point East of the Mis­sis­sip­pi and drop­ping all the way down to Old Fort, NC at the base of the Appalachi­an escarpment. 

Today’s ride shows us the mag­ic of hav­ing a shut­tle van at your dis­pos­al. The stats say it all about this one! After the ride we will head back to Asheville where you can either extend your trip and keep the fun mov­ing along or sad­ly, pack up your gear and head on over to the airport.

Time on trail: Approx. 3+ hours

Photos & Videos

Book Pisgah All Mountain Now

Dates chosen: Oct. 17, 2021—Oct. 22, 2021
Skill Rating: Black Diamond
Fitness Rating: Black Diamond
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Skill Levels
Green Circle

Typically, green Rides are safe for beginners. Green Rides may have both avoidable and unavoidable obstacles. Trails are generally low grade, wide, consistent surface texture and have minimal features. You are likely to come across unavoidable obstacles 2-inches or shorter, which is small enough for mountain bike tires to simply roll over. More challenging than tarmac, but in general, a wonderful Ride for those riders new to mountain biking or looking for a casual experience.

Blue Square

In general, Blue trails are narrower than green trails, encounter unavoidable obstacles such as roots, rocks, and drops that are up to 8-inches tall. You will want to have a solid understanding of the fundamentals of mountain biking including body positions, powerful braking, cornering, riding on varied terrain, steep sections and experience riding trails that requires line choice. Airtime is not mandatory, but you will find yourself on trails with alternate lines giving you the option.

Black Diamond

The Black Diamond Rides are  suitable for riders looking for that edge. Maybe it’s the edge of a drop, the edge of a cliff, or singletrack requiring focus and fast reactions developed from extensive experience riding “the edge”. You will find yourself on steep trails of varied surfaces. In the Pacific North West that could be slick roots and loam, in Nepal you will find exposed granite in the Mustang Valley and in Guatemala it maybe narrow stairways through cliffside villages. While airtime is rarely required, the ability to find the backside or clean a tabletop should be comfortable or in a state of progress. Obstacles on Black rides are likely to be outside the range of your bikes ability to cover your goofs with its awesome suspension and grip.

Double Black Diamond

A Double Black ride is for those that already know they are looking for a Double Black. It’s going to be very hard and require advanced bike handling skills. You will find yourself on trails with sections most non-riders would look at and say, “that’s totally nuts!”. You will know how to look at a line and contemplate where it will work and where it won’t. Drops of a couple feet should be comfortable and getting your bike off the ground should feel predictable and fun.

Fitness Levels
Green Circle

You should be ready to spend 2-4 hours per day on the bike. Mileage may be up to 30km/20 miles and elevation gain will be under 500m/1500feet. On e-MTB tours, numbers will be higher, however the approximate effort would be considered similar to a standard Green Circle ride. If you get on your bike once a week, you will be just fine. However, when preparing for a Ride, you will benefit from more rides and time in the saddle.

Blue Square

Blue should be considered a good deal more effort than our Green Rides.  You should be able to handle 3 to 5 hours in the saddle covering up to 45km/30miles and be able to pull off a big day of 1000m/3000feet of elevation gain. Managing fuel is important as well.  You should have a good understanding how your body responds to multiple days on the bike. We will help with positive coaching, a manageable pace and plenty of trailside snacks.

Black Diamond

A Black Fitness ride will test you. Aside from needing to be able to manage up to 6 hours on the bike, day after day, including distance up to 50km/30miles and elevation gains up to 1750m/5000feet of climbing, you will be adding extra challenges along the route like periods of hike-a-bike and the extra effort required by the whole body to safely dance with your bike over technical terrain. Generally, riders who are up for a Black Fitness ride, likely spend time on the bike a couple times each week.

Double Black Diamond

A Double Black will be for those with the strength and endurance to get to the top of anything they want and understand the term “turning the screw”. Distance could be quite high on some routes and elevation gain numbers could hit 2000m/6000 feet+ in a day. You are likely riding multiple days a week during the dry periods and have a trainer or belong to a gym for the rest of the year.