Located in the western part of North Carolina, Pisgah is truly a fantasy land for mountain bikers. The area is renowned as a premium mountain biking location in the US, full of technical and challenging mountain bike trails. The Pisgah National Forest spreads over half a million acres and houses hundreds of miles of adventurous trails, offering an endless array of activity you can enjoy.
But if you're traveling to Pisgah for mountain biking, which trails are an absolute try? We will be reviewing the best mountain bike trails in Pisgah to give you a flavor of what to expect when you reach the mountain biker’s paradise. So without any further delay, let’s get started.
Top 5 Best Mountain Bike Trails in Pisgah
#1 Bent Creek
The massively popular Bent Creek lies within the boundaries of Pisgah National Forest and with over 30 miles stretch of some exciting trails, Bent Creek draws the attention of hundreds of bikers spread across North Carolina. In fact, the Bent creek is considered as the busiest MTB trails in the region, with cars overflow the parking and the different trailheads swamped by people over the weekends.
The trail consists of a relatively flat area as well as a steeper, mountainous section near the ridge. The flat areas in the vicinity of Lake Powhatan comprise of both single-track and double-track trails and are perfect for beginners. Some of the notable trails in this section of Bent Creek are Deerfield Loop and Lower Sidehill Trail. But if you want a challenging and high-speed descend, trails towards the ridge side are for you. The Wolf Brank and Ingles Field Gap offer exciting climbs and descents, but biking on the Green Lick trail is a must if you're up for a challenging ride. The Green Lick features a fast and flowy ride with massive jumps, sharp rock gardens along the way. After all, there's a reason why it's one of the most acclaimed descends in the areas or even in the entire North Carolina).
#2 Farlow Gap
Considered one of the most tough and technical downhills in Pisgah, Farlow Gap is not to be taken lightly. A rocky descent of around 2000 feet in just 3 miles is a challenge for many people, but the thrill of the entire experience is worth it. Not to forget the exquisite waterfalls, the lush green trees, and the uninterrupted wilderness during the entire ride are an attraction for many MTB bikers from across the US and even the world beyond.
The Farlow Gap trail is around 3.1 miles long but combined with other nearby trails, you can ride a loop of around 14 miles that can take anywhere between four to six hours to complete. The climb to the top of Farlow Gap consists of a brutal five-mile ride up a mix of doubletrack and gravel road. The trail itself starts with a few shorts turns, generally in the northern direction, and then becomes a legendary steep descent towards the east. Almost a mile after the start of the Farlow Gap, you would have descended around 1000 ft of altitude by the time you pass by the Shuck Ridge Creek. After a steep and rocky downhill ride of 3 miles, the trail connects to Daniel ridge to add another 9 miles adventure to your day. To look the Daniel ridge, climb the road to Gloucester Gap and then take a right at the intersection.
#3 Black Mountain
Black Mountain offers THE classic Pisgah experience you should definitely try out if you’re around the area. With plenty of technical single-track downhill riding, the trail loses around 1900 ft as you get from the highest point to the bottom. Loads of gravel and sharp rocks carpet the surface but the ride generally gets less technical as you approach the bottom.
Located at the edge of the Pisgah National Forest, Black Mountain trail can easily be accessed from a few miles down the highway after crossing the Hub Bike Shop. Most riders chose to loop Black Mountain trail with Thrift Cove towards the bottom, riding somewhere between 12 to 30 miles in total while some also work their way to Buckhorn or Pressley Gap. Overall, the 1900 ft downhill ride covered with rocks and waterbars is worth the climb.
#4 Kitsuma Trail
The Kitsuma Trail in the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah is a longtime favorite of mountain bikers in the region. The 10-mile loop features a point to point single-track trail with more than 12 switchbacks climbs and an awesome 3 mile descend with frequent fast flows and steep rocky sections.
To access the trailhead, exit Interstate 40 towards Ridgecrest and turn right at the Dunsmore Ave to head towards the Ridgecrest Camp. Then head towards Royal George and you’ll find the Kitsuma Trail at the end of the road. The trail can also be accessed from the Old Fort Picnic grounds but no matter which route you take, you’ll come across multiple switchbacks, waterbars, steep ascends and descends and of course, a breath-taking view of Mt. Mitchell during your biking session. Well’ what else do you need?!
#5 Bennett Gap Loop
Near Black Mountain and Avery Creek is yet another paradise for mountain bikers. After a 3 ft climb up Avery Creek, a descend of 1400 ft in just 3 miles of Bennett Gap trail will surely leave you breathless. Some ambitious riders combine Bennett gap loop with Avery Creek and Black Mountain, but we recommend that you tackle each of these trails separately to make the most of your experience.
As soon as you embark on your Mountain biking trip, you’ll come across a brief section of an overgrown field of vegetation but crossing it comes with a spectacular view of Looking Glass Rock. While the trail is generally easier to ride, the trail features a few technical moves that worry even the most experienced riders. One of these is a steep switchback with two-line options: the left side is steeper but with a straighter path through the turns while the one on the right requires a greater mountain biking skillset. Towards the end, the ride becomes more fun and much less steep as you make your way towards Avery Creek Road.