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.
Pisgah, a gem tucked away in the western corner of North Carolina (WNC), has been known as the go-to training area for pro riders, testing ground for bike manufacturers, and must-ride destination for rides for decades.
The seemingly endless trail loops and options here make Pisgah National forest a mountain biker’s 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) 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.”
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.
DAY 1. Let’s get to Brevard!
Our private shuttle will meet you at the Asheville Regional Airport and drive the group to our hotel in Brevard. If you are arriving by vehicle you can check-in after 3:00 pm.
We’ll enjoy a meet and greet and cocktail hour at this hotel this evening.
DAY 2. Cove Creek and Daniel Ridge Trails
We’ll start today with breakfast at the hotel, then shuttle to 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 trailhead. Cove Creek is a nice gradual climb for a few miles along a classic old school contour trail into the forest.
We’ll turn onto what was once Forest Service Road 225, now mainly single-track, and follow this rolling trail through the forest to Daniel Ridge. Then we can either 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.
DAY 3. Epic Pisgah Loop
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll pack up and hop in the van to 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 the 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. After crossing the river, we’ll have a couple miles up to the Turkey Pen parking lot where the van will be waiting with plenty of cold beers.
DAY 4. DuPont Big Ride
We’ll eat breakfast at the hotel and then we’ll take a break from the roots and rocks of Pisgah and head over to DuPont State park for a big loop taking in all the best trails. We’ll hit all the highlights like Ridgeline, Burnt Mountain, Laurel Mountain, Airstrip, Cedar Rock, and Big Rock (slickrock of the east). The riding here is generally less technical and faster rolling with shorter climbs.
Day 5. Pisgah Enduro
After breakfast, we’ll head to Avery Creek and Bennett Gap. This is a locals’ favorite that hits some of the burliest stuff out there but starts with a nice warm-up on a gravel road. We’ll roll out from the hotel and after couple of miles on pavement start our 5 mile climb up Avery Creek Road to the “Club Gap” trail.
Club Gap is one lung-bursting chunky mile to the start of the locals’ favorite DH run of Avery Creek trail. Avery has recently been reworked with added features (rollers, berms, rock moves, and gaps) all the way down to the creek some 5 miles below.
Back on Avery Creek Road, we’ll climb back up a couple more miles to the trailhead at Bennett Gap. Bennett Gap has some of the toughest lines in Pisgah and a couple of rock moves that are Expert+. Bennett continues down a few more miles with some rooty drop sections and a couple of tough climbs (hike-a-bikes). For those who simply can’t get enough, we can add another ~3 mile climb up and tag on the lower “black mountain trail”.
Day 6. Spencer Gap
Today is a mix of old-school Pisgah and new-age trail redesigns. 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, it’s 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 of miles to Fletcher Creek trail. After a short climb, there’s an all-out fast and flowy section to the bottom of the road. Then we’ve got a couple of miles to climb back up to the Trace Ridge parking lot where we’ll ride Trace ridge down the mountain and across North Mills River to the parking lot.
Day 7. Heart Break Ridge & Kitsuma
Today is an Epic ride — one that will leave the locals who hear of it drooling. Usually, you have to pick either Heart Break Ridge or Kitsuma unless you’re prepared for a monster grind between the two. Lucky for us, we have a shuttle so we’ll get to do both trails without the extra pain.
We’ll get the added bonus of starting the fun 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. This is the magic of an all-inclusive mountain bike holiday. You get to do such decadent rides such as this.
Day 8. Optional Bike Park Day
For those who want it all, we’ll shuttle from Black Mountain to Marshall, NC and Bailey Mountain Bike Park. This is a shuttled-access bike park fun for all skill levels. For those who do not want to ride, you can tour around the streets of vibrant Asheville. We’ll all meet up at the hotel for a cocktail hour before cutting folks loose for explore the many restaurants, bars and breweries the make Asheville so unique.
THIS IS A GROUP DINNER NIGHT, RIGHT??
Day 9: Travel Day
When it’s all over, we’ll pack up bikes and enjoy one last breakfast together in Asheville before starting Asheville Airport drop-offs.