Local Flavours: The Complete Guide to Riding in Brevard, NC

Oct 21, 2019
by Brice Shirbach  

Local Flavours

THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO RIDING IN
BREVARD, NORTH CAROLINA
Words, photos, & video by Brice Shirbach

Presented by Explore Brevard


It's the isoprene that does it. Well, it's the trees that produce the isoprene that make the Blue Ridge Mountains blue. Technically, this physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains extends from Pennsylvania to Georgia, but in my estimation, they're at their "bluest" in Western North Carolina. It's downright radiant along the western edges of the Tar Heel state, and the small adventure hub otherwise known as Brevard is situated squarely in the center of that blue glow.

My first ever trip to the heart of Transylvania County was nearly 6 years ago alongside my friend and PB compatriot Matthew Delorme, and it helped to set me on the path of which I am currently on as a professional storyteller and athlete. It opened my eyes to a scale of adventure and exploration east of the Rockies that I hadn't really seen up until that point. The terrain is beautiful and unapologetic in its ruggedness, and the opportunities for adventure are numerous and world class. Fly fishing, rock climbing, white water, hiking - it's all here and the town of Brevard is largely devoted to curating the best possible experience for locals and visitors alike in their pursuit of any of the aforementioned endeavors. Of course I'm really here for one endeavor in particular: riding my bicycle in these woods.

That trip from 6 years ago led to a story published here on this very site called "Brevard Calling". In the time since that chapter of East Bound & Down, I find myself returning a few times a year. Each trip brings with it a reunion of friendships I've had the good fortune to develop over the course of half of a decade, in addition to a few new ones with each adventure. In the end, anyone who has experienced Brevard firsthand understands "the call" of this place. Maybe it's the isoprene working its way into our veins. I don't really know, and I don't really care; once Brevard starts calling, the only thing you can do to quell the inevitable craving is answer it.

Local Flavours Prescott AZ
Brice Shirbach // Local Flavours
Age: 37
Location: Wilmington, DE, USA
Industry affiliations: Pivot Cycles, Maxxis Tires, Pearl Izumi, 9point8, Julbo, MRP, Deity Components, EVOC, Shimano, Dialed Health, Stan's No Tubes, Topeak, Leatt, Cane Creek Cycling Components
Instagram: @bricycles
Favorite Ride near Brevard: Farlow Gap to Daniel's Ridge.
Riding Style: Whatever's Clever


Local Flavours Brevard NC
Isoprene hard at work in Pisgah National Forest.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Spot the white squirrel!

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Transylvania County: the land of waterfalls and deep v's.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Local Flavours Brevard NC
Brevard is perfectly situated at the mouth of Pisgah National Forest, much to the delight of 2 and 4-legged adventurers.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Local Flavours Brevard NC

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Sycamore Cycles has been at it for 2 decades in Brevard, with top notch service and loads of knowledge when it comes to riding bikes in the area.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
The Hub and Pisgah Tavern have you covered pre and post-ride, and they're the closest shop to The Pisgah.

Local Flavours Brevard NC

Local Flavours Brevard NC
About those white squirrels: this place is loaded with them. They're also a bit psychotic at times. Oddly enough, this was the closest I came to any during my week in town.

A Bit About the Region

The first inhabitants of Brevard were there long before the town was officially incorporated in 1868. The Cherokees called this land home for centuries, using the Estatoe Trail to link native communities in South Carolina and Georgia with what is presently Transylvania County. Brevard was established as the seat of Transylvania County, and was immediately recognized for its abundance of natural resources and rich soil, traits that do not go unnoticed even today.

Modern day Brevard is home to a community of artisans and artists, with dozens of restaurants, cafes, boutique shops, and galleries lining many of the streets throughout the area. Brevard College, home of one of the country's strongest collegiate mountain bike programs, was originally founded in 1853 and moved to its current location in 1934. The area has proven to be an attractive home to more than just artists and outdoor enthusiasts, with scores of craft breweries popping up throughout the region in recent years, with the likes of Oskar Blues, Brevard Brewing Company, and Ecusta Brewing all calling Brevard home.

To the west of town lies Pisgah National Forest, a venerable natural resource that is beloved by all walks of life. Hundreds of miles of singletrack are sandwiched between city limits and the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic byway several miles west and thousands of feet above Brevard. A 15 minute drive east will bring you to Dupont State Recreational Forest, a beautiful swath of land that is home to lakes, waterfalls, rivers, and rock slabs. Between them, riders have access to some of the very best trails on the continent, and a community devoted to cultivating access and a lifestyle rooted in the mountains and forests they spend so much of their time enjoying.

Getting to Brevard

While Brevard isn't particularly close to any major population center, it's also not terribly far or challenging to get here for many folks in the eastern half of the United States. Driving here is a breeze, with major interstate corridors including 81, 40, and 26 making easy work of the commutes from cities such as Knoxville, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Greenville. Asheville, the largest town in Western North Carolina, is only 40 minutes north of downtown Brevard. The drive time from Knoxville to Brevard is 2 hours. Atlanta to Brevard can be done in 3. From DC, it's an 8-hour drive. Philly is 10 hours away. It's said that 75% of the American population is within a day's drive of Brevard. I suppose that's all relative to what you're willing to drive in a day, but a road trip is something I'm always going to support as it's my own preferred method of travel.

While Brevard doesn't have an airport of its own you can use for commercial flights, Asheville does and it's connected to Brevard and Transylvania County via a 25 minute drive along State Road 280. The airport is serviced by 6 airlines, and offers nonstop service to cities including Chicago, Washington DC, Orlando, Denver, New York, and Newark (NJ). Charlotte Douglas International Airport is 2 hours east of town, is one of the country's busiest airports, which often translates into much cheaper flights compared to what you'll find when flying to Asheville.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
I kept hearing 35 feet to the sweet spot. Watch the video to see what happens when you extend that length a bit.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Pisgah National Forest receives 100 inches of rain per year. It lends a mood and flavor to the area that is hard to describe, but I love it.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
There are more waterfalls per capita in Transylvania County than anywhere else in the country.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Avery Creek's sizable new gap.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Dupont State Recreational Forest often leads to this state where your lips curl upwards and your teeth are bared. It might be the result of a bite from a white squirrel. Or maybe it's something else.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Callie Horwath leads the party train of two down the start of Farlow Gap.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Recreating in Dupont Recreational Forest.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Local Flavours Brevard NC

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Local Flavours Brevard NC

Local Flavours Brevard NC
The transition from Farlow to Daniel's is appropriately rough.

Local Flavours Brevard NC

Local Flavours Brevard NC

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Farlow Gap is for those who crave big days on gnarly trails.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Sure there might have been a thunderstorm fast approaching, but Callie had no problem moving down Daniel's Ridge even faster.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Andrew leading me down the opening stretch of the re-worked Upper Black Mountain trail.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Liz Walker with the neck flair.


The Best Trails to Ride in Brevard

If you ask someone who lives here what their favorite trail is, you'll probably get a different response every time. The selection in Transylvania County alone is massive, and in reality Brevard is close enough to trails in Mills River, Black Mountain, and Lake Lure that you could feasibly make this place your basecamp for an even broader Western North Carolina adventure. Hell, even just between Pisgah and Dupont I'm sure there will be folks who will wholeheartedly disagree with the trails we're going to outline below. But that's also a very good "problem" to have. For the sake of streamlining the information, we're going to focus solely on Dupont and the Pisgah Ranger District.

Pisgah National Forest
These here are some of the biggest mountains you'll find east of the Mississippi. Pisgah is deep. Pisgah is big. Pisgah is beautiful. It's not a place where you should expect to find a bunch of purpose built, ultra wide corridors with gallons of flow oozing down the mountain. You should instead expect to find rocks, roots, and rhodos; the latter of which is short for rhododendrons and the tunnels they create across virtually every trail in the forest. The trails stretch from the mouth of the forest near The Hub and Pisgah Tavern several miles to the parkway, although I should note that dropping in on the trails that connect directly with the Parkway ain't exactly legal, so make sure you're checking Trailforks or with any of the shops in town for an up-to-date map of the trails as well as any seasonal restrictions that might be in place. There's a reason so many World Cup racers call this place home.

Key trail - Farlow Gap: I suppose Farlow is the kind of trail that locals ride once or twice a year, if that. There is no quick and easy way to do a Farlow Gap ride. It's way out there and it's way gnarly. It's not a trail you should ride alone either; if something were to go wrong the extraction process would be challenging for al involved, and on your own it would be exponentially more difficult. That being said, it's my favorite trail in the region. The technicality of it, the various line choices, and the sense of adventure from start to finish is electric.

Key trail - Avery Creek: This might not sit too well with the "keep Pisgah whatever" crowd, but I love this trail. Avery was recently given a much needed facelift after years of erosion and drainage issues, and the results are reminiscent of what you might find in the PNW: a combination of natural tech lines with progressive and purpose built features. The primary highlight of this trail is a sizable gap 3/4 of the way down the trail close to 30 feet in length. It's buttery smooth and super fun. Keep in mind that there are no directional trails in Pisgah National Forest, so always ride in control.

Key trail - Bennett Gap: Easily one of the most heralded trails in any district throughout Pisgah National Forest, Bennett has been filmed on countless times, YouTubed to oblivion, and Grammed shamelessly. It's also still an amazing ride and deserving of all the "Hey, can you video this for me?" moments. It offers stunning views of Looking Glass Rock, Cedar Rock, and the Davidson River Valley, and provides riders with several steep and off camber sections that will wake you up if you weren't already.

Key trail - Sycamore Cove: While this might be the closest trail to the entrance of the forest, that doesn't mean it's any less awesome. In fact, a Sycamore loop will give you a perfect taste of what to expect in Pisgah without having to shuttle for an hour, or hammer up a gravel road for 2. It has interesting climbs, super fast and fun downhills, and plenty of roots and rhodos to keep you honest. You can have a blast riding it in either direction, and can keep your ride short and sweet or connect to Black Mountain and the rest of the PNF for a much bigger adventure.



Dupont State Recreational Forest
Where Pisgah brings the technical heat to the region, Dupont is well known for what is typically a more flowy experience. You can still expect to find plenty of massive slabs to play on and rhododendron tunnels to nuke through, but the pitch here is a bit more mellow than what you'll find throughout Pisgah. There are a handful of trails that provide the kind of experience that will satisfy those looking to get loose on some rowdy and technical terrain, but by and large the trails in Dupont will be more appropriate for a broader range of skill levels and doesn't require the same kind of time commitment some of the best rides in Pisgah require. Also, the best sunrises and sunsets in the region can be experienced right at the intersection of Big Rock and Cedar Rock trails.

Key trail - Cedar Rock: It competes with Heaven's Bench in East Burke, VT for the most photographed section of trail on the east coast (no need to fact check that...just take my word for it), Cedar Rock can and should be experienced in both directions. It's a trail that is loved by riders at an intermediate skill level and up as there are numerous sections of the trail that allow for some creative line and gap opportunities, while never getting especially hairy for those looking to keep things tidy on two wheels.

Key trail - Burnt Mountain: This is my personal favorite trail in Dupont, and specifically when riding it clockwise. This direction makes for a pretty enjoyable climb for the first 15 minutes, with a handful of sections that actually break up the climb with quick downhills and natural features. Once you top out in this direction, it is all downhill from there, starting with a few loose and flat corners, a handful of rocks to jump off and trees to jump between, before the final 300 meters get much steeper and much rowdier. That section is a glorious combination of thousands of roots scattered across a bunch of rock slabs, with a bit of dirt filling in the gaps.

Key trail - Ridgeline: Ridgeline is a fast and ultra flowy descent near the Lake Imaging trailhead of Dupont. It's devoid of any technical feature whatsoever, but does offer up some great corners and plenty of doubles and rollers to make some shapes on. A favorite among beginner and intermediate riders, it's worth a look if you've never been to Dupont regardless of your skillset.





Local Flavours Brevard NC
This box of tools has everything you need if you encounter mechanical issues at the intersection of Black Mountain, Avery Gap, Buckwheat, and Club Gap. It was generously donated by Nature Trails LLC, the folks responsible for the design and execution of these new look trails.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Double checking before the yank.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
It worked out.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Cedar Rock is a blast in either direction.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Especially this direction.

Local Flavours Brevard NC

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Local Flavours Brevard NC

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Local Flavours Brevard NC

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Farlow Gap is a stunner.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Dupont might be known for its flow, but there are still some pockets of high speed and rowdy bits.

Local Flavours Brevard NC

Weather:

Brevard might be in southwest North Carolina, but it's still in the mountains, so it's definitely subject to 4 distinct seasons. That being said, it's far more comfortable in the winter compared to the northeast and many of the western states. Summers here are warm, but the many water holes scattered throughout the area make for a fun and easy way to keep cool after (or during) a long ride. Spring and Autumn are when you'll find prime conditions, with tacky dirt, comfortable temps, and beautiful colors. You can call this place a year-round riding spot, but it is subject to occasional snow and ice storms, and definitely freeze-thaw cycles, so ask around and make sure you're not going to wreck the trails before you ride them.

This place gets a lot of rain, so always pack appropriately. It can get quite cool at night, even during warmer months, so a beanie and warm layer or two is never a bad idea.

Bike Advice:

You don't need a downhill bike here, but anything from a super enduro rig to a fully rigid decision is in play otherwise. For much of PNF, I think you'll want something that won't be a bear to climb with, and will allow for you to enjoy what can often be fast, rough, and rowdy descents. Most of Dupont can be ridden on a short travel rig or less, although a few lines and trails might warrant something with a bit more squish and forward thinking geometry.

I spent my week with just my Pivot Switchblade, a 29er with 135mm of travel in the rear, and 160mm up front. I wanted some efficiency for the many miles of climbing I would be doing, but also needed something that would handle man made and natural hits, high speeds over rough sections, and hundreds of off-cambered corners. I was really happy with my decision the entire week.


Local Clubs and Advocates:

Pisgah Area SORBA is a non-profit, volunteer based organization focused on advocating for quality trails while fostering relationships with various land managers in the Brevard, Hendersonville, and Asheville areas.

Local Flavours Brevard NC

Local Flavours Brevard NC

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Local Flavours Brevard NC
Elizabeth Jackson is a Brevard local currently working on something that will have a significant impact on the recreational landscape for Brevard and the surrounding area, and it involves a massive year-round covered bike park.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Local Flavours Brevard NC
The views inside the forest are just as lovely as those outside of it.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Local Flavours Brevard NC

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Local Flavours Brevard NC
Places like Squatch Bikes and Brews and The Hub combine top notch service with top notch beer selections.

Local Flavours Brevard NC

Local Flavours Brevard NC

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Pisgah National Forest is the pot of gold on either side of the rainbow.

Local Flavours Brevard NC
Check out my full gallery of images here.

Accommodations and Food:

I spent my week in town sleeping at the top of Pilot Cove, a beautiful collection of cabins situated at the entrance to Pisgah National Forest. They offer loads of space, fast wifi, full kitchens and laundry rooms, and perfectly compliment their stunning mountainside surroundings. These are a great choice if you've got a group of friends to help split the costs with or a family.

There are numerous hotel options as well, including the venerable Sunset Motel, a renovated property that pays homage to 50's and 60's era lodging while providing all of the modern amenities you could ask for. Airbnb properties are plentiful as well, and there are a handful of other bike-specific lodging options such as The Bike Farm, as well as camping opportunities galore.

The food in and around town is awesome. You can certainly feast yourself on southern staples and barbecue, but Brevard has much more to offer to people looking for clean and creative dining options.

Breakfast:
Crank Coffee is located inside of Sycamore Cycles near the entrance to Pisgah National Forest. They offer up baked goods, coffee and espresso, and really tasty smoothies.
The Velvet Cup Coffee Truck offers amazing coffee and espresso, fruit smoothies, and crazy good, made to order doughnuts.
Sunrise Cafe is a Brevard breakfast institution.

Lunch:
Food Matters Market is a perfect place to grab a fresh sandwich to-go if you plan on being out on an all-day adventure. You can also grab groceries if you need to stock up on supplies.
Carolina-style BBQ is my favorite kind of BBQ. Blue Smoke BBQ is a must eat and you can check their Facebook page to stay up to date with their food truck location.

Dinner:
The Square Root is a great spot to class it up a bit without feeling like you're taking out a second mortgage when the bill hits the table. Great drink and wine selection too.
Jordan Street Cafe has a great menu and drink selection, and is a staple whenever you're visiting.
Magpie Meat and Three will blow you away with their smoked meats and barbecue. Also their grits and their fritters. Also everything.


Local Bike Shops:

Brevard is home to three esteemed bike shops that will more than help to keep you rolling on your trip here:
The Hub and Pisgah Tavern
Sycamore Cycles and Crank Coffee
Squatch Bikes and Brews

Other tips:

1. Get ready for a year-round skills and dirt jump park! Coming February 1st to the area is The Riveter, bike park and climbing gym which will feature a nearly 19,000 square foot covered bike park which will open year-round! There is another 2-3 acres of land that will be utilized for progressive jump lines and trails to suit all abilities. The "bike park canopy" will feature 3 separate jump lines, a youth skills area, and more. In addition to all of this, there will be child care for members, a bar, a yoga studio, meeting space, and much more. This is going to change the landscape for much of the adventure and bike community in Brevard and beyond. The Riveter is the brainchild of Brevard local Elizabeth Jackson, and I'm excited to head south again this winter to check this place out firsthand!
2. Brevard offers much more adventure opportunities beyond the bike. Brevard truly is a comprehensive outdoor paradise. Whitewater, rock climbing, waterfalls, fly fishing and more are all on offer, and are all presented in a first class manner. Build time into your trip to include a few adventures off of the bike. Here's a handy website to help.
3. Check out the farmer's market. This is an awesome way to support local farmers and artisans, while getting to sample some tasty local produce and goods. The Transylvania Farmer's Market is open every Saturday throughout the year, with hours changing seasonally. You can find it in downtown Brevard just off East Main Street behind Comporium, at the Corner of Jordan & Johnson Streets.


Presented by Explore Brevard


Brevard mountain biking trails


Dupont State Forest mountain biking trails

Regions in Article
Brevard


138 Comments

  • 78 9
 Trails are definitely over-hyped, I'd suggest driving a few hours south and check out Florida's systems instead.
  • 4 2
 ^^
This guy gets it.
  • 2 4
 Exactly
  • 6 1
 Couldn't be more correct.
  • 5 2
 Should have posted a pic of the hour plus traffic jam to try to drive out on Saturday afternoons. Nothing like an hour sitting still inhaling diesel fumes to unwind after a ride.
  • 7 22
flag jorgeposada (Oct 21, 2019 at 7:43) (Below Threshold)
 Have checked out both and Santos Florida is fun and huge and flat and Africa hot. Pisgah has 8000 times better dirt, long actual mountain descents, speeds over 30mph. Being from the Catskill mountains where 30 foot steep drops and DH bikes are around every turn I would lean towards Pisgah. Both are worth checking out. Carolina bbq and micro beers get boring quick to a city person. Honestly don't even go to Florida until December, it's heart attack hot, plenty of Florida man antics also.
  • 2 1
 @jorgeposada: I'm heading up to North Carolina this Thanksgiving and have a brother and mother who are significantly less skilled and confident. I was wondering if their is a trail that my whole family could ride, but I could still have fun on.
  • 12 3
 @FloridaHasMTBToo: Ridgeline in Dupont for sure
  • 2 6
flag jorgeposada (Oct 21, 2019 at 8:11) (Below Threshold)
 @FloridaHasMTBToo: Ya Dupont for sure, tons to check out with the family also in the area. Hendersonville, Asheville are fun for a day of recovery. Soo many trails in the area it's mind boggling. I'm about 45 minutes the way I drive in Hickory and the local trails are sick here, specially my trails. The street riding is great also but very spread out, kind of like North Jersey without the 50 billion people.
  • 3 17
flag jorgeposada (Oct 21, 2019 at 8:13) (Below Threshold)
 Ya your food is boring sue me, grew up in Manhattan. Florida has better food than BBQ five meals a day. Boooooo down vote ouch.
  • 2 14
flag jorgeposada (Oct 21, 2019 at 8:46) (Below Threshold)
 Did I mention people in Carolina are very sensitive but very nice. Ocala FL is like 80 times more dangerous and some old lady will blow your head off for driving too fast. NC is very chill, just needs more diversity in the food department. Love offending people by complimenting their area.
  • 2 0
 Agreed...
  • 1 2
 @bizutch: well yeah...easy solution..don’t try to drive out on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon
  • 1 11
flag jorgeposada (Oct 21, 2019 at 9:46) (Below Threshold)
 Probably moving to Asheville next year. My family runs the er/surgery portion of Mission Health if you have a bad one btw. Might open a resturant but the logistics of shipping food from Puglia Italy are much harder than it is in Manhattan. Mellow mushroom omg terrifying, ouch.
  • 4 2
 If you ride trails there, moonshiners will shoot you.
If you ride paved roads to the trails, every 3rd truck will #ROLLCOAL on you.
  • 1 0
 @jorgeposada: I've been in the Mission ER after a rough day on Black! Transylvania Regional is closer, but they couldn't deal with me there and stuck me in an ambulance to Mission. Rough day...
  • 1 2
 @shinook: Unfortunately I know the feeling, that sucks. Hope Mission got you feeling better. They are really trying to step it up in the next 5 years.
  • 2 0
 @jorgeposada: They did and I learned to manage my speed better.
  • 2 1
 @FloridaHasMTBToo: I'd agree with others. Definitely a lot of appropriate miles in DuPont, especially from the Lake Imaging parking lot. Climbing Jim Branch might be a bit steep and strenuous, so you could head out on Lake Imaging Road, hit Hilltop, take Buck Forest to White Pine, Hooker Creek, and finish on Ridgeline back to the lot. Have fun!
  • 2 0
 He's right. I live in Brevard and it sucks. Nobody should visit here. Much better trails and less traffic in Charlotte anyway.
  • 1 2
 @Hussman: Charlotte has the best food options I've seen in NC which isn't saying much. Brevard is a quick destination to get to and not sure if people down south comprehend what real traffic is.
  • 1 0
 @FloridaHasMTBToo: A lot of Bent Creek as well.
  • 1 0
 @FloridaHasMTBToo: Stick with Dupont if you've got less experienced riders. Big rock and the one side of Burnt Mountain are the only two real black descents I can think of there and Big Rock is actually pretty chill. Ridgeline is super easy (I've seen kids on striders on it), but still a lot of fun and easy to shuttle if your new people don't like climbing. Airstrip is another flow trail that pretty much anyone could ride, but it's kind of a paint to get to. I really like the Rocky Ridge descent as well. It's a bit more technical with some tight switchbacks near the bottom, but should be manageable for most people. Again, it's very easy to shuttle.
  • 36 2
 Sorry Folks, forest's closed. The white squirrel out front shoulda told ya.
  • 1 0
 Think the squirrel was run over today, jumps were roosting like crazy with DJ tires. Drought is finally over.
  • 2 1
 I hear the green slick has all the gnar
  • 23 2
 Yep nothing to see here....move along.
  • 15 2
 I've been super stoked to live here since we moved in 2017, I love the area and love seeing it promoted by articles like this. I have friends that live in other regions of the SE and travel halfway across the country to ride in the mountains, totally missing the great trails we have here.

That said, I see a lot of promotion around the 'big' and advanced trails here, like Bennett Gap, Black Mountain, and Avery Creek. IMO this does a disservice by showing people that this area, Pisgah in particular, is over the top and too difficult for beginner riders. I even know several locals that refused to ride in Pisgah because they rode something like Pilot or Bennett, thought the entire forest was like that, then wrote it off until someone took them to some of the other trails.

So while the trails listed here are fantastic, if you are a newer rider, there are other options I'd consider, as well.

In the fish hatchery area, my go to trail for Pisgah first timers/new riders is Cove Creek, which is a 10 mile or so steady climb to a fairly mellow descent, with a few tricky segments and a short hike a bike. The downhill, similar to Sycamore Cove, is a great introduction to riding in Pisgah, with a lot of short root segments, but few high consequence areas (aside from one short segment near the top). It's a much longer day that provides views of a few waterfalls and is a bit more scenic than some of the other trails in the 'front country' like Sycamore.

On the slightly more difficult side, there is the bridge side (Descending CW) of Daniel's Ridge, which can be a chore to get to, but is a much mellower, flowier ride than the rocky side that is traditionally ridden. There is also nearby Butter Gap and Buckhorn Gap (not to be confused with Buckwheat), which step up the difficulty a little bit, but not nearly to the extent of Bennett or Avery. In Brevard, you have Bracken Mountain, which is a fairly smooth, fast downhill with some awesome switchbacks, but a difficult climb. A little outside of Brevard, you have Spencer Branch up in Mills River, which is a flow trail that has scattered rock armoring throughout. All of these will be more approachable to riders not familiar with riding steeper, chunkier terrain and lack (for the most part) the high consequence features of the more advanced trails.

So if you are a newer rider or looking for something mellower, fear not, all of Pisgah is not super rowdy, burly, or advanced. There are plenty of trails for you to ride that will challenge you, give you a taste of what is available in the forest, but allow you to confidently ride a fair bit, as well.
  • 8 2
 Absolutely...although I would also suggest Dupont for beginners as well, as there are several options available that are much less intimidating in terms of technicality, and the riding there is much less of a time commitment compared to a lot of what you'll find in PNF.
  • 4 2
 @briceshirbach: Absolutely. I guess I should've caveated that there are no true 'beginner' trails in Pisgah, for folks that are totally new to mountain biking, DuPont is a much better bet for sure!

For newer riders that have ridden DuPont, are comfortable with the terrain there, but want to try Pisgah, the options I mentioned above are a good bet, but I'd never take someone to them for their first mountain bike ride, only once they were comfortable with some of the trails in DuPont.
  • 9 2
 @shinook: yep, totally agreed! That's also one of the inherent appeals to this place as well...totally see why you decided to move there!
  • 1 1
 @shinook: I used to ride in the mtns a lot when I was younger, early 2000's on a 4" travel bike, and rode it all. Now that I am older, even with a more capable bike, still find it easy to get overwhelmed at the difference in difficulty in the mtns vs. riding in the foothills. IOW, you don't have to be a beginner! haha

Need to plan a trip up that way this fall, will just need to plan a route accordingly. Definitely some great riding up there.
  • 15 3
 @briceshirbach:

One thing to note.. in the 11years I've been riding DuPont, I can't help but notice the recession of the delicate vegetation/ moss on the rocks due to riders resting and stopping at the Big/Cedar intersection and other places.

Please stay on the rock if you're stopping.. the moss can not and will not grow back once it's trampled on.
  • 9 2
 @SketchyD: Yeah absolutely...I think unfortunately some people just disregard it as a weed patch, but I'm glad you pointed this out
  • 3 1
 Agreed on this. Bent Creek and Mills River way better than trying to kill yourself down Bennett or Avery if you're an intermediate rider not familiar with taking drops.
  • 1 0
 @Bigbangus: I generally steer people away from Bent Creek due to the quantity of trail users, difficulty of accessing the more popular trails, and lack of maintenance. IMO the best trails in Bent Creek, well, they aren't on Trailforks...
  • 1 1
 @shinook: @shinook: Lack of maintenance in Bent Creek? They are there every single week working on trails more than any other place in WNC. They're borderline pavement guy.
Post a pic of rut in Bent Creek please...any rut
  • 1 2
 @bizutch: I guess I should have clarified. I was referring to a lack of maintenance on some of the features built further into the forest, like the jumps and gaps. They typically seem poorly maintained compared to other portions of the forest, ruts aren't the only thing that require maintenance.

Some of the work that's been done there is very questionable, also, like that roller on the bottom of Ingles Field that sent someone over the bars last year with life altering injuries. It was extremely poorly placed and built.

My point was more that compared to other parts of Pisgah, Bent Creek really isn't worth the effort, the lack of maintenance on these features is just a small part of that reason why.
  • 1 2
 @shinook: Bent Creek is extremely easy to access from Asheville, much easier than any other area of Pisgah.

If you're riding Pisgah for "features" you're doing it wrong. Pisgah is about rugged, raw, natural gnar.

Bent Creek was built to be an introduction to Pisgah and it does a good job of that. Ignore this guy above he knows not of what he speaks.
  • 2 0
 @georgiamtbiker: I was referring to the accessibility of the more popular trails, Greens Lick for instance, not it’s proximity to Asheville. It’s a slog to the top followed by a slog from the bottom for a downhill that is mediocre by the standards of the other areas in a nearby distance. Everyone I’ve taken there likes it but felt time was better spent in Pisgah or DuPont.

It is closest to Asheville, which makes it appealing for those living or working there and it is convenient for after work rides when you are in the city. For those coming out of town for vacation, DuPont or Pisgah offers more variety, better descents, at similar or less work and considerably less crowds. Compared to other areas, it’s just not worth the effort IMO. If you’ve hit everything in DuPont or N Mills and want something on the easier side, it may be worth a trip, but there are better options IMO.

As for maintenance of features, they are there, the decision was made to build them by someone. When they go without maintenance or the maintenance is done poorly, it creates a hazard. I don’t ride Pisgah “for the features”, in fact those very features are one of the reasons I don’t ride Bent Creek often, but they were built and the lack of maintenance is a problem whether I like them being there or not
  • 2 0
 Fantastic article but when the author mentioned Farlow Gap as his favorite trail, I knew to take everything else he said with a grain of salt. That trail is not mountain biking. It's a rock garden beat down filled with hike-a-bike, pain, no air time, zero drops, and even less fun. It caters to the 1% that has ridden everything else in the world, train 7 days a week, and have run out of challenges in their riding life. Like Portal in Moab, do it once and never again.
  • 2 0
 @shinook: Here is your context. Greens Lick was a first. It was the first "Troad" conversion, meaning an old road that was being used as a trail that was then converted into a trail. Labor was donated by a for hire company Trail Dynamics and the rest was volunteer hours. Trail Dynamics shut down Mo Heinous & Betty Heinous (which merged at the last flat spot on the hill) and created a new entrance, now known as Greens Lick. They did it to convert a badly eroded old road bed into something that drained well and required no maintenance. It was a BMX track top to bottom with people on townies (I witnessed it) riding it. People got hurt on that perfectly manicured and smooth as glass trail non-stop. It was also built knowing that it would very much rough in due to the rocky soil on that hill and gradually police itself.

The things that you are referring to as poorly maintained are all things end users tossed in themselves afterwards..little kickers and booters, etc. None of them are part of the maintenance plans for that trail.

BUT...you can go up there and work them yourself if you think they need it. Pisgah Area SORBA is not gonna repair kickers.

Last...maintenance or lack thereof never hurt a rider when it came to dirt, roots & rocks because there is no LACK. It's just changing conditions. The word "LACK" implies negligence and there is NO negligence when it comes to soil in the forest. It does what it does because it is what it is.

It's is always 100% the rider. If you go over the bars, it's on you. No trail group or forest commission should ever pay a dime for us if we put our wheels to dirt on public lands.
  • 1 1
 @bizutch: Yup, I'm aware of the context and that's exactly why I don't recommend Bent Creek that often. The amount of rogue building, followed up by no maintenance on the features (however you want to frame that) creates some hazards. I wouldn't expect PAS to maintain those features, but they are there regardless of whether they are official or not. IMO most of them are out of place, in poor condition, and pose certain risks.

As for "100% the rider", I agree to an extent. The exception is when a trail is changed and an out of place feature is added that is out of character of the rest of the trail, particularly on beginner trails. The person that injured herself was a newer rider and Ingles Field is ridden by many such folks, the roller added was lippy enough that you either hand to pop off of it or slow WAY down, but you didn't realize it until you were on it. I had some other friends comment that they nearly got pitched off the bike, as well, despite their experience. She got flipped over the bars and had a pretty serious head injury. The feature shouldn't have been as lippy on a trail that is otherwise void of such features and is heavily ridden by beginners or less experienced riders. It'd be like putting a gap in the middle of Ridgeline. Clearly someone agreed because it was toned down shortly after.

All that aside, it's still over crowded and the more popular trails there, I just don't find as enjoyable as DuPont or Pisgah. If I'm in Asheville and need to knock a quick ride out, it's not that bad and I can see why people go there, but for visitors from out of town, IMO there are better choices than Bent Creek.
  • 2 0
 @Hussman: If I could do it once a week, I would. People on full rigid bikes ride Farlow almost weekly. Stop with the absurd amount of hyperbole.
  • 15 2
 Worst riding in the country, avoid this area at all costs.
  • 2 1
 Definitely. I live in Brevard and I usually drive two hours east to Charlotte where the trails (and traffic) are much better.
  • 10 1
 I'll be the first grumpy old man standing here yelling to stay off my lawn!
  • 5 0
 Wouldn't be right without it!
  • 6 0
 Thank you, Brice, for giving us quality material, for proofreading your work before it's submitted, and for writing the most badass riding profiles on PB.

I always look forward to reading them after having to sift through clickbait. It's kind of like when you go to a wedding and finally get to eat dinner after eating a bunch of junk (or nothing) earlier in the day.

We're also not jealous at all of the riding out east. We really prefer the few dry, blown out, close-to-freeway choices we have here in Southern California. The longer you sit in traffic to get there, the more stripes you earn.
  • 3 0
 Bent Creek is grand central station all the time except for like 7AM on a Sunday AM. the weekend trail running meetups are ridiculous - 30-40 runners @ a time, & they never exercise proper trail etiquette...f*cking annoying @ best. DuPont isn't as bad, but weekends are kind of a shitshow. Ridgeline puts me to sleep - Hooker Creek is way better downhill (especially after climbing Hickory Mtn.). i typically avoid all of it & ride a little known trail in SC about 1/2 hour f/Hendo. won't name spots, but its fun as hell, & no stupid crowds or entitled equestrians like @ DuPont. and don't even get me started on the horseshit - huge land mines everywhere there, especially on weekends. Brevard isn't a bad town...just not my cup of tea. finally, i've never been impressed w/Oskar Blues beer - overpriced & not that good. there are better choices elsewhere. WNC is a strange place, but can grow on you if you're a certain type of person.
  • 3 0
 @briceshirbach _ Thanks for the follow up. I read your initial Pisgah piece which motivated me to get off my ass and do the Pisgah Stage race. Pisgah Forest and Brevard is a special place and there is defo nothing to ride or see there ;-)
  • 2 0
 My pleasure!
  • 5 0
 The east coast is definitely full of hidden gems. Absolutely nothing for you to see on the East Coast please go out west
  • 5 0
 Once again Brice a very informative and fun review..keep up the good work!Smile
  • 5 1
 Wow, had no idea that toolbox was unlocked. Literally stood around and guessed what was in it last weekend.
  • 2 1
 Ditto
  • 2 2
 #metoo

Avery is BALLER.
  • 3 2
 I know I’m shooting myself in the foot here as far as making it harder to book....but, Pilot Cove is located directly behind The Hub up the hill. It’s at the entrance of the Pisgah Forest, and has its own Flow track on the property. Super nice cabins, with a mud room to keep your bikes. Pretty amazing place to stay if you head out there...I mean the freaking towel racks in the bathroom are lock on grips, the mirror was a used rim!
  • 10 9
 Do not recommend The Hub. Sure it's the cool place to hang out and all that. Maybe I'm just not granola enough for it. Maybe they've just gotten too big for their pants, but most of the people working there are A-Holes. I'll walk across the street to Sycamore Cycles 1000x before I do business with The Hub anymore.
  • 10 1
 That’s a shame you had that experience, I know most of the people that work there and they are all very kind, wonderful people.

You have to consider that during peak tourist season, they are very busy. I rarely go in during these times and especially on the weekends, because everyone is scrambling to get work done and bikes out the door. It’s like visiting a popular restaurant during peak hours, they may want to stop and chat with you, but lack the time in an effort to keep everything running.

I’d suggest going during off hours or season, try to get to know them a bit. I’ve had nothing but positive experiences there.
  • 5 3
 @shinook: Agree 100%. I travel to the "hot spots" of mountain biking all over the country (for work), and I think the mountain bike community in Brevard is second to none. There are so many people supporting the industry there, and they all want you to have fun. It's contagious, you can't help but love the place. And The Hub is the epicenter of what's happening there.
  • 5 1
 @stevemokan: Don't sleep on Syacamore or Squatch Bikes though! If you want a more personalized experience, go in a pick their employees' brains about a ride route or sit and have a beverage for a spell. You won't be disappointed with the vibe.
  • 3 0
 @Kdubs421: yeah absolutely...there's more than enough to go around for all 3 shops, and they all offer great service and are staffed by some fantastic people
  • 1 0
 My group was there in may, buddies wheel was way out of shape and they had it trued in less than an hour after just dropping it off, we've always had good experiences there in the years we've been visiting. Sycamore cycles bailed me out this year with a derailleur hanger also. Maybe you caught an employee on a bad day? our local bike shop is weeks out on any repair big or small...
  • 2 1
 I learned to ride in Pisgah in the early thousands on rigid 3x8 XC bikes. Those were the days. I’ve since been to dozens of MTB destinations across the country including Crested Butte, Breckenridge, and Downieville and I still find myself dreaming about rowdy days in Pisgah
  • 1 0
 Alright, I know people are going to make fun of me for asking this, but I've got to know.

What were the trails in PNF like in the days of rigid bikes and rim brakes? I've ridden up in Indiana and Michigan on an old Trek Antelope that my parents have as a spare bike, and while it's actually pretty fun up there, I can't imagine it on something like Bennett's gap. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure it could be done (actually, come to think of it, I kind of want to try now...) but I can't imagine wanting to do it more than once.
  • 7 4
 Great write up Brice and the pics are stunning as always. Hope to get you back to Tucson to finish what we started and get you on CDO! Cheers bud! Safe travels.
  • 5 2
 glad you focused on brevard and not wilson creek...'cause that place sucks!
  • 3 1
 Shhhhhhhhhh
  • 4 1
 They missed Bent Creek and Mills River which I would take over most of DuPont, but yeah go away nothing to see here.
  • 5 1
 I didn't miss it...I mentioned in the piece that we're focused on The Pisgah Ranger District and Transylvania County specifically, and that Brevard makes for a great place to base yourself out of if you want to explore Mills River, Black Mountain, etc...no shortages of great spots!
  • 2 1
 @briceshirbach: Good point & great write up. I just feel like many people go to Dupont first time and waste their day in an endless death trap of go nowhere mediocre XC mileage as I did myself. When really you should ride ridgeline, drive down to Big Rock and Burnt, then get the hell out of there.
  • 1 1
 Yo, you try to catch some stitches?
  • 2 1
 @Bigbangus: if you're not riding Reasonover Creek, full Turkey Knob, or Grassy Creek, you're not doing DSF justice!
  • 1 0
 @blockhead1005: Should be more like the Rockellers but the gov are some greedy bastards.
  • 1 1
 @blockhead1005: These trails, yesss.
  • 2 0
 @blockhead1005: I do love Turkey Knob and Reasonover. They are great trails. So is the airport DH and the blue that connects to ridgeline. I mean DuPont is really great, but it's definitely a 30-35 mile commitment if you want to check all the boxes and there is a lot of time wasted there I find. I do it once a year and enjoy the sights, but not my go to Asheville ride.
  • 3 2
 Don’t fall for the 6 hr hike to the top of upper black it suuuuuuuuuuucks. I feel like it’s some sort of local hazing for tourists. That said, pisgah and Dupont are awesome. Some of the best riding ever.
  • 2 1
 2 hrs max
  • 2 0
 @LaXcarp: man it felt like 6! Nearly blew outta my fivetens on some of those narrow ledges!
  • 1 0
 Definitely my have to ride each time I come down. Upper black is worth it!
  • 3 0
 What did you do hike a bike straight up Black Mountain? If you're trying to loop it climb Avery Creek road to Club Gap to Upper Black. Still some hike a bike but not a ton.
  • 1 0
 @georgiamtbiker: sounds good thank you.
  • 4 1
 Horrible trails and no beer, stay away
  • 1 0
 I second that notion. And nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded.
  • 2 0
 Ingles is better than food matters. $5 dinner plate, with one meat, two sides, and cornbread or a dinner roll. Bougie!
  • 1 0
 Yeah Ingles is a part of every trip of mine to Brevard. I just really like eating clean and the sandwiches from FM are the perfect size pre-ride for me
  • 2 1
 Us folks here in Florida would love to see an article on Santos' newest flow trail. It's pretty rad, for Florida.
  • 3 1
 It's fun and flow but very easy for DH racer types. Santos is spandex 29er heaven but lot of fun spots tucked in there. Riding from 301 trailhead to 200 in the summer might have you hallucinating from the heat. I used to live 10 minutes from the 200 trailhead so very familiar with the whole system. 14 years ago there was not one rider out there, wild boar, it was no man's land. Now every cardiologist from the villages and full 10 deep families are out there. Weekends can be a bit annoying on the Vortex side. I would hit 200 on weekends and Voted during the week. Prepare for riding at the beach levels of sand.
  • 1 1
 Here's the story Brice did on Santos a few years ago.

www.pinkbike.com/news/ocala-florida-east-bound-and-down-2016.html
  • 1 0
 @Goinriding: I saw that and a good edit. They have since expanded way out into Dunnellon. The new sections are flowy and resemble prehistoric times. That flow trail rivals the Vortex side he was on as far as speed. Just wish it was longer. There is soo much potential in the new section it's insane, hiked all over it.
  • 2 2
 Pisgah allows my soul to sing. From Turkey Pen Gap to Flat Laurel Creek, every trail in between makes life on the bike an absolute joy. Love this place!
  • 1 1
 Fell in love with the riding and people in NC, and Brevard more specifically, this past Spring. We'll be making a point to come back every Spring, from now on!
  • 1 1
 #stopscaringtheblackbears They don't like it when we disturb them in their community with the white squirrels.
  • 2 1
 North Cakalack is righteous for sure
  • 4 3
 Best riding east of the Mississippi.
  • 1 0
 Also, New Avery is the shit
  • 2 1
 Looks terrible, everyone should go to Florida instead. Thanks.
  • 1 1
 What's with all the tourists that view the waterfalls from above?

#Defendpisgah#onelesstourist
  • 1 1
 isnt Avery Creek the climbing trail?
  • 4 1
 Avery Creek road is the one you climb to Bennett Gap. I don't think you will enjoy climbing up Avery Creek trail
  • 1 1
 You might be thinking about Buckhorn Gap.
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