Party in Pisgah - Exploring North Carolina's Finest

Jun 20, 2015
by Robert Rebholz  
Party in Pisgah

Early this spring, far too early to ride bikes in the Northeast, I got the itch to ride somewhere great. Usually, the cure for this is to pack up my bike, fly to Moab and shred with my homies in the land of the watered-down beer. This year was a little different with the arrival of my son William in January. It’s hard to leave him for a day of work, much less an occupation of Moab. I needed to find a spot within driving distance from New York that had awesome trails and nice early season weather.

Party in Pisgah

I had heard great things about Brevard, North Carolina from more than a few well-traveled riders. Last year on a trip with Jeff Lenosky, he said that he thought Brevard was the best place to ride in the United States. I called Jeff to see what he thought of an early season trip to Brevard and he loved the idea. I was pumped that Jeff wanted to come along because he always motivates me to push my limits.

Jeff is one of the rare freestyle/trials guys who slays the woods as well as the street. He is always looking for a small rock or root to turn into a huge gap or boost. Climbs that most folks have trouble walking up, Jeff turns into an observed trials course that he pedal-kicks and side-hops up.

Party in Pisgah

Lenosky recommended that we stay with Daniel and Tracie Trusler who run the Red House Inn. “They are a great couple who love to ride and Daniel makes a fantastic Southern breakfast,” Jeff explained. I gave Daniel a call and he set us up in one of their rental homes in downtown Brevard.

When we arrived in Brevard, my legs were a bit wobbly from the eleven-hour drive, but I had to get a ride in before dinner. Daniel suggested a ten-mile ride on Black Mountain in Pisgah National Forest for our first spin. When I suggested a longer ride, Daniel gave us some advice that I would thank him for later. “Brevard is known for taking a bit more out of you than your average trail,” Daniel said. “If you want to do more we can always climb up and do another lap."

Party in Pisgah

As we began the grind up Thrift Cove I began to understand what Daniel was talking about. Coming from a place without much elevation, I definitely felt it pedaling up a few thousand feet.

Party in Pisgah

Daniel explained how the history of Brevard helped shaped the trails that are considered some of the toughest around. “Most of the climbing trails in Pisgah are on old logging roads, so the grade never gets too steep,” Daniel said as we pedaled up Thrift Cove. “The downhill trails were created by the old growth trees being pulled straight down the fall-line of the mountain.”

Jeff, who has ridden Brevard many times, was on a six-inch enduro bike. “The sweet part of riding in Pisgah is that the climbs are long, but never too steep. You can easily push a bigger bike up the hill and have a lot of fun ripping the downhill.”

Party in Pisgah

I was on a short travel bike and was definitely wishing for a bit more bike on some sections of the downhill. Big chunky rocks littered the trail with some rowdy transfer lines that Jeff was blasting. Sweet root gaps were everywhere and I did my best to follow Daniel and Jeff’s lines.

Party in Pisgah

The following morning we got up and had an awesome Southern breakfast prepared by Daniel. He piled mouth-watering heaps of eggs, fresh fruit and grits on our plates to prepare us for the big day of riding ahead. “I won’t be able to ride with you guys today, but give a call to bike guide Cashion Smith from the Bike Farm to take you out.”

Party in Pisgah

I had heard of Cashion through his work he did with Oskar Blues Brewery developing their Red Bull Dream Line course. I was excited to meet him and check out his newest project, the Bike Farm. We gave Cashion a ring and he was happy to add us to a big group that he was taking out to the Pisgah Fish Hatchery area. Cashion explained that we would climb for a bit until we reached one of his favorite trails, Daniel Ridge.

Cashion was a great guide, stopping to let us know what’s up with the upcoming sections of trail. Jeff took most of Cashion’s advice as a personal challenge. When Cashion mentioned there was a dilapidated log bridge next to the proper trail, Jeff made sure to turn the sketchy wet log into a trial’s obstacle.

Party in Pisgah

The downhill sections on Daniel Ridge were some of the best I’ve ever ridden. There were huge granite formations to launch, as well as super technical old school East Coast lines to navigate. It was fun to rally with such a big crew and not have to stop to look at a map once. Cashion did an awesome job of picking the best trails in Pisgah and wove them together masterfully.

Party in Pisgah

We ran into a couple on the trail from Pittsburgh who were having a rough afternoon. They explained to Cashion that the connector trail they had taken looked short and flat on the map, but turned out to be a nightmare of technical features. “It always pays to ask a local about the riding around here,” Cashion explained. “Trails can become extremely technical very quickly and they may take much longer to ride than it looks like on the map.”

Party in Pisgah

After finishing up on the trails near the fish hatchery we hopped in Cashion’s Sprinter Van and headed to the Bike Farm. Cashion explained his vision for the project. “We want to create a basecamp for folks who want to access the endless trails of Pisgah,” Cashion said as we drove up the dirt road to the Bike Farm. “We offer guiding, can set people up with bikes and offer a terrific location to launch your Pisgah adventure from.”

The following day Jeff was scheduled to lead a group ride out of the Hub Bike Shop. The group had folks with all different skill levels, so Jeff decided to take the group to the DuPont State Forest. “DuPont is more mellow than the trails in Pisgah, but they are a lot of fun,” Jeff said as we made the 15-minute drive to the Lake Imaging trailhead.

Party in Pisgah

The trails in DuPont are super buff and obscenely fun. The whole zone is like a big pump track. We did a mellow climb up the Jim Branch Trail and had a blast riding down the Ridgeline Trail. “Some of the Hunger Games movies were filmed here,” Jeff said as we pedaled past a series of picturesque waterfalls.

We rode from the northern point of the park down to the Corn Mill Shoals area in the southwest corner. When we reached the top of the Cedar Rock trail, we had an amazing view of the lush, green mountains of the Pisgah Forest.

Party in Pisgah

After the ride we got back to the Hub just before closing time. The shop mechanics were finishing up their maintenance on the rental fleet and were eager to go for a shred. Because we didn’t have a ton of daylight, Kris Lathrop from the Hub suggested we take a rip on Black Mountain.

Party in Pisgah

Kris along with Hub mechanics Daniel Sapp, Jon Angermeier and Tim Koerber joined us on our twilight ride. It was cool to go back to a zone that we already had ridden once, to push it a little harder than we did the first time. It was also awesome to ride it with such a talented, fun group of riders.

Party in Pisgah

One trail that we had missed the first time we rode Black Mountain was the Lower Black Trail. “Lower Black is hands-down my favorite trail in Pisgah,” Jon said as we dropped our seats for the downhill. “If you don’t have fun on this trail then you should probably find another sport.”

Party in Pisgah

Jon was dead-on with his succinct endorsement of Lower Black. The trail oozed flow with just the perfect mix of jumps, gaps and drops. It felt like the Whistler Bike Park’s trail Dirt Merchant, but scaled down for trail bikes.

Party in Pisgah

High fives were in abundance at the end of the short but sweet ride. After an obligatory dip in the French Broad River to cool down, we suited back up and pedaled over to Oskar Blues Brewery for some post-ride awards. I’ve been a huge fan of Oskar Blues craft canned beer for years and was super stoked to check out their East Coast operation.

Party in Pisgah

Going with the theme of the ride down Lower Black, I indulged in the Pinner throwback IPA on our visit to Oskar Blues. Sophia and Johnny from Oskar Blues gave a tour of the massive brewery. It was rad to see how the very tasty beverages were made and how the culture of the company is built around mountain biking.

Party in Pisgah

“The owner Dale had his foreign made bike stolen four years ago, so he started making REEB bikes as a double bird to overseas manufacturing and bike thieves,” Johnny explained as he showed us his custom REEB bike. His American-made REEBdikyelous 29’er looked like a singletrack assassin with a super clean Gates Carbon Drive. “After two years of working at Oskar Blues, Dale gives you a REEB as a thank you gift for your service.”

Party in Pisgah

After a fascinating tour of Oskar Blues, we grabbed some food from the world famous CHUBurger food truck. We sat on the massive patio of Oskar Blues and enjoyed the last sunset of a great trip. My legs were still burning from the three-day hammerfest, but I was already planning my next trip to Brevard.

Party in Pisgah

It’s true what they say about the warmth of Southern hospitality. Thanks to everyone who made this trip a great one including Sam, Kris, Daniel, Tim and Jon from thehubpisgah.com. Thanks to Daniel and Tracie for the great accommodations at brevardbedandbreakfast.com. If you need a great place to camp or guiding in Brevard, check in with Cashion at bikefarmpisgah.com. Thanks to Aaron, Sophia and Johnny for making our trip to oskarblues.com a great one.

Party in Pisgah

Thanks also to Hans Heim and Scot Nichol at Ibis Cycles, Scott Boyd at the Hayes Group, Joel Richardson at FSA, Elayna Caldwell at SRAM, Brett Hahn at Continental Tires, Jeff Wilbur at Cateye Bobby Dranberg at Thomson, Ronan at Moove Components, Jon Hadfield at OneUp Components, Liam Walsh and Bob Maas at Lake Shoes and Jeremiah Stich at Bert’s Bikes and Fitness.


55 Comments

  • 30 2
 Lets get something straight. You had breakfast in the south, but thats not a southern breakfast. A southern breakfast has at least three eggs, bacon, pan sausage, biscuits, pancakes, skillet gravy, black coffee, milk and orange juice. Strawberry preserves and butter. And plenty of syrup. The dessert is the fruit with a little Cool Whip. Hash browns and jalepinos optional.
  • 2 0
 That's it? Up north, we have PBR for breakfast!
  • 4 0
 You forgot the grits. I smell a Yankee!
  • 2 0
 Sorry, forgot the grits with a little butter and sugar, but I ate too many grits growing up so I skip them now. No PBR or Lonestar, or Corona for breakfast. That would be indecent down here in the bible belt, but if someone living near Whistler takes me in, I'll be glad to accommodate beer for breakfast. And I'm buying.
  • 19 0
 I can ride DuPont and Pisgah everyday for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy.
  • 1 0
 Legit. Just went down there for 5 days during Memorial Day weekend and had an absolute blast!!! Can't wait to make it back down there from Massachusetts
  • 2 0
 Question: how is "Pisgah" pronounced?
  • 2 1
 PIZZ KUH
  • 3 2
 @mtbfunfunfun it's pronounced pis-ga. it's a word in hebrew which means "top of something". like, "I reached the top of the mountain" means "I reached the Pisgah of the mountain"
  • 8 0
 Good article. I was just down there for a week and it was everything I wanted and more. I especially liked all the free roadside campsites in the forest. Can't wait to get back down there. The contrast between Dupont and Pisgah makes this a great riding destination. You have Dupont for those days you just want some easy, fun riding on well designed, purpose built trails. Then you have Pisgah for when you want to spend all day on the bike, face physically demanding climbs, and rip down some seriously rugged descents. Pisgah is the most rewarding place I have ever been. Getting to the top of a climb and thinking there is no way any descent could be worth that much effort, and then realizing you were wrong as you come screaming down the mountain over roots and rocks on truly amazing sections of trail. Brevard is a great town, and the Hub is a great bike shop. They know the area and can help you find rides that will have you wanting more.
  • 5 0
 Bikes, Beers and Babes! North Carolina here I come..........next time I'm on that side of planet Earth.
  • 1 0
 Read in random articles from 2015, and random comments from 2015. Nice quote from The Collective. You can have all three
  • 4 0
 Just arrived in Brevard for a week, got my new Transition Scout 2 months ago just for this trip.I am so stoked to ride these trails!
  • 1 0
 lucky lucky lucky. have a blast!
  • 2 0
 you just scratched the surface of NC. if you're staying in brevard, can't beat red house (and the breakfast, like Daniel, is English!)

Having lived in both charlottesville and charlotte i can say you can't go wrong between nc and va hills.
  • 1 0
 The last shot of the snake is so fitting. The last time I was there I rode over the biggest snake I've seen outside of a zoo. It scared the crap out of my wife. When the log she thought I was riding over came to life and lunged at my wheel. She screamed and I looked back shocked to see a 6foot plus snake of some sort slithering away. I looked a lot closer at logs and roots for the rest of our trip. The riding was fantastic can't wait to go back.
  • 3 1
 My Transition Patrol is on order.. once it arrives and i get it dialed in, I am going to Pisgah! Thanks for a great write-up!
  • 2 0
 Every write up I see in Pisgah, I always think: "They stopped to take pictures instead of ripping all the way down?"
Hah. DSapp cheesin' in that one pic.
  • 2 0
 For the record the beer in Moab is only watered down if you buy from a grocery store. If you purchase from the overpriced state-run stores it's full octane.
  • 2 0
 I remember flying in to Topeka, Kansas, for a wedding. Bought a case of beer and after 6-7 I was still straight as a board. I mentioned it to a local who was part of the wedding party and she told me it's Near Beer (watered down). I went back across the street to the liquor store and purchased a bottle of tequila. The rest of the night was great and I got the girl from the wedding party. And Kansas pretty much sucked.
  • 2 0
 wow!! I live in Virginia which isn't that long of a drive, must go....soon!
  • 6 0
 If you live in Va, go west first to Harrisonburg (killer riding) and snowshoe, then work your way south.
  • 2 0
 I actually used to live on Massanutten resort and rode the western slopes of it, Elizabeth's furnace, and used to go over to the George Washington Nat. Forest etc. Makes sense what you are saying though, these places are closer! Thanks for the suggestion!!
  • 2 0
 @Satanslittlehelper doesn't know what he's talking about. He eats pudding with a fork.
  • 3 0
 Wooo! Western NC is the best!
  • 6 2
 If there wasn't that state to the north called Virginia.
  • 1 0
 Or even worse west virgina....jk! they rock for riding!
  • 2 3
 NC has Pisgah (of which the riding around Brevard is just a small part), DuPont and Tsali. Arguably 3 of the best places to ride in the country. Then there's Pro-GRT and national championship worthy DH riding at Beech. Virginia has... what, exactly?
  • 3 1
 Apparently you have not been to Stokesville/Iron Mountain and that's just the tip. VA is home to some of the best east coast trail as well
  • 1 0
 @SangamonTaylor: Stokesville, Douthat, Carvins Cove, Sherando Lake, Shenandoah Mtn 100, the southern traverse......
  • 3 0
 I love my back yard. #pisgahiscalling
  • 3 0
 Beer + bike shop + hot bar tender = heaven
  • 2 0
 If you know what Wilson's Creek is then you know tech riding. Greentown to Beehive will eat your wheels
  • 2 0
 green town sucks now unfortunately
  • 1 0
 This is unfortunately true, Wilson's creek is still my favorite place to ride though. Lots of options
  • 1 0
 What happened to Green Town?
  • 3 0
 Living in California, NC looks awesome because it has actual dirt.
  • 4 1
 And we have water. Lots of it. And no mega-churches.
  • 2 0
 I remember dirt in California...i think we had it at one point long ago. now it's all just sharp rocks
  • 2 0
 He just used the word "zone" to describe Pisgah/DuPont. Uh, this is NC, not France.
  • 2 1
 lucky enough to live 3 hours away. Pisgah is the heart and soul of mountain biking
  • 1 0
 Why didn't you guys take any pictures of all the technical stuff you wrote about in the article! Don't tease us!
  • 1 0
 Too busy riding it!
  • 1 0
 Love me some WNC! I'm building some gnar in my backyard right now! Love livin in Pisgah!
  • 2 0
 Love Pisgah.
  • 2 1
 "Mocno tam pisgah?"

Sorry, had to do it (plspecific)
  • 2 1
 Yak ev Kyelletzkeem
  • 3 2
 North Carolina and Virginia are the best of the east coast
  • 1 0
 Be there next week. Try to get there a few times a year.
  • 1 0
 Great article, perfect mix of text and photos!
  • 1 0
 Thanks! Appreciate the feedback
  • 1 0
 Home sweet home!
  • 1 0
 looks like fun
  • 1 0
 North cakalack!!!

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