Mountain Biking in Pisgah, NC

(2009: Santa Fe, NM, 2010: Portland, OR, 2011: Colorado, 2012: Sun Valley, ID, 2013: Park City, UT, 2014: Oakridge, OR, 2015: Jackson, WY 2016: Moab, UT)

It was finally time to make the drive from home to Brevard, NC to ride around Pisgah for a week for #mtb2k17. All kinds of technical downhills, some great miles of flow, even less views than North GA. Paul flew in from Portland, Kurt drove over from Charlotte, and the rest of us all drove up from Atlanta in a handful of cars. This was my first bike trip on my own mountain bike (instead of a rental) which was great, and the rest of the crew had a great spread of their own bikes and some sick rentals from The Hub (who also have all the maps and draft beer you need). We stayed at a great AirBnB a quick bike ride from town. The first night we turned on TNT and Star Wars was on, a different Star Wars was on every night, so we watched all of them and added Rogue One from Jason’s Netflix account the last evening. Best beer of the trip for me was Lorelai IPA by Bhramari Brewing Company, and second place was far too close to call between Asheville Brewing’s Perfect Day IPA, Lazy Hiker Brewing’s Slack Pack, and Catawba Brewing’s Hopness Monster.

Day 1 - Davidson, Cove Creek, Daniel’s Ridge

Ah, a nice easy intro to Pisgah. We missed a turn and did a silly out and back that turned from technical to overgrown over a little over a mile, but found our way back. Best 2 trail-side waterfalls of the day were here, Cove Creek was a really nice flowly (but almost too flat) downhill, and Daniel’s ridge was a great technical intro to what would come later on the trip. Dinner was some fancy mexican food at Quixote in Brevard which was delicious but missing that ‘uncomfortably full’ feeling that I look for in my mexican food.

Pisgah Day 1: Cove Creek + Daniel's Ridge

2017.10.04 Cove Creek downhill from Chris Kelly on Vimeo.

2017.10.04 Daniel's Ridge downhill from Chris Kelly on Vimeo.

Day 2 - Bracken, Black Mountain

Bracken is new and machine built and has oh-so-much flow. It’s an out-and-back from a nice parking lot, and has the best trailside signage of any trail I’ve ever seen. We mosied uphill, then ripped downhill at several times the speed of sound, and Brian’s injury from a overcooked berm exit that had us stop by urgent care afterwards didn’t even need stiches. After getting him cleaned up, we headed over to Black Mountain for a pretty long gravel road climb, followed by a 2 mile hike-a-bike climb, and a long afternoon of super-technical downhill, followed by the fantastic flowly lower Black. We all were out of gas by the end, and when we got to our car, there was Marc with his car and beers for each of us. Thanks Marc! Then we had some killer post roast that Paul had slow-cooking all day.

Pisgah Day 2: Bracken and Black Mountain #mtb2k17

2017.10.05 Bracken downhill from Chris Kelly on Vimeo.

2017.10.05 - Black Mountain downhill from Chris Kelly on Vimeo.

Day 3 - Laurel, Pilot Rock, South Mills, Squirrel Gap, Laurel Creek

Kurt joined us to show us around on Day 3, and he may have been trying to kill us. We parked at the bottom of Laurel which was a nice, but never quite ending climb. It was a perfect sort of technical, with most of it being very rideable and bits that required some work. Pilot Rock was very technical heading down, but it had a nice view halfway through which was a good chance to shake out the arms and hands. Down we continued, and at the bottom a few people split off to cruise back to town while the rest of us headed for South Mills and Squirrel Gap. Less elevation gain and less technical, these were fine and great. Unfortunately, after a lot of miles, these end at ‘the bottom’ of Pisgah and we ended the day with a ~1000ft climb back to the car. Fortunately, it was a nicely inclined gravel road. Everyone regrouped at The Hub and we ended up at Magpie Meat and Three for dinner. Hangry CK wouldn’t put up with a table wait, so we took a table outside with the limited menu and ended up with a pretty fanstastic spread of food. Good call CK.

Pisgah Day 3: Laurel + Pilot + South Mills + Squirrel #mtb2k17

2017.10.16 Pilot Rock downhill from Chris Kelly on Vimeo.

2017.10.06 Squirrel Gap downhill from Chris Kelly on Vimeo.

Day 4 - Dupont

On to something totally different, Dupont is east of Pisgah and is lower and flowier. There are still plenty of climbs and plenty of work to do, but it’s more of the “you get out of it what you put into” trail than the other things we’ve ridden. 1000s of turns, and Kurt flawless guided us through them including dropping into some nice downhill from an abandoned airstrip, checking out the waterfall from Last Of The Mohicans, and eating lunch on a dock on a tiny lake. Not bad. We didn’t make it to the northernmost parts of Dupont, and opted instead to pack up and head to Sierra Nevada’s eastern fortress of a brewery. It’s the biggest brewery I’ve ever been too, and the food and beer were great. It was a long 30 minute drive home from the brewery, and thankfully Jason had some BBQ going all day at the house so second dinner was even better than first dinner.

Pisgah Day 4: Dupont South #mtb2k17

Day 5 - Drive home

The weather snuck in on us and rained out Day 5, so we drove back home a day early. Even without the epic mileage and distance (and views) of years past, my core and upper body was pretty wrecked from all the technical downhills and I didn’t mind calling it a little early this go around. We missed Kitsuma, Heartbreak, Bent Creek, Dupont North (Ridgeline), and a few others so there will definitely be a long weekend or two in the future to check these out.


  • 4 days, 6 star wars movies, 1 brewery, many pints at The Hub
  • 90.1 miles (A new low: Pisgah is Technical y’all)
  • 12h 50m, of moving time
  • 13,329 feet of climbing (Not a new low: what goes down must first go up.)

In Summary

Pisgah is a “must do” mountain biking destination. Staying in small-town Brevard is cost effective and has all the groceries, beer, restaurants, and bike shops that you could possibly need. The trails get pretty far into the backcountry, and while signed well, a map (and knowing how to use it) is mandatory. You might as well find a riding buddy familiar with the area as that’ll save you all kinds of trouble. If you want long semi-technical climbs or gravel road climbs, you’ll find both. If you want super fun flowy downhills or super-super-technical downhills that have any sane person walking at least small portions of, you’ll fine both of those too. Just make sure you know where you’re going because you could end up out there for a long time doing a lot of hike-a-bike both uphill and downhill. It’s not that easy to ride from town (without making it a super big day) and we ended up driving to trailheads every day, the furthest one was about and hour drive with a lot of gravel, and we didn’t investigate shuttles because we had enough truck coverage to carry everyone. As always, let me know if you want to join us next year. I’m thinking Squamish?

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