The Pisgah area of Western North Carolina is loaded with some 200 miles or more of serious cross-country mountbiking. From 30 minute rides to all-day epics, this place is mtn bike heaven. Though, it is not for the begginer, in my opinion, intermediate to advanced riders benefit most in Pisgah. Most all rides start with a climb, for a couple miles, either a technical single track climb or fire road. Then most trails decend down some of the best single track on the planet. (I ridden in the Rockies and Pisgah is still my favorite!!) Some red-letter rides: Caney Bottom (also known as Farlow Gap), Thrift Cove, Sycamore Cove, Pressley Gap, Buckhorn Gap, South Mills river, just to name a few of the many. I have met people from Canada in Pisgah that drive all the way down (2 days) twice a year because Pisgah rules. There is a large Forest Serive Campground (Davidson River Campground) near the start of a lot of the trails. Also, there are grocery stores, Wal-Marts, and a gaggle of bike shops in half and hour of any riding area.
Two main trail areas: 1) Interstate 26 to Exit 9, follow Highway 280 South to Mills River, follow signs to North Mills River Rec. area. 2) I-26 to Exit 9, follow Highway 280 South to Pisgah Forest intersection, right onto NC 276 west, go 2 miles to Pisgah Nat. Forest Ranger station and buy book "Off the Beaten Track: Pisgah District" for trail info. Approx. 4 hours north of Atlanta, 3 hours west of Charlotte, and 30 minutes South of Asheville NC.
Summary: My ONLY experience was today at Claw Hammer and all I can say is unless you like carrying your bike up miles of un-rideable trals stay away!! The 5 to 7 mile climb up the fire road was fine I actually enjoyed it but as soon as you turn right at the top it is 50% carry 50% ride for over 3 miles unless you are an expert rider with 5% body fat then it's still carry 20% of the time.. Ther were some nice down hill sections on the back side but by the time you get there unless you are in triathlete condition you will be too tire to care...
I am just as sure that some of the other trails in the park are wonderful but unless you are made of steel and a very accomplished rider stay away!!!!
Recommended Route: another trail
Other recommended trails in the same area: sorry just the one that I rode and I will never ride it again I will rate it a 3 because the park is awesome and I know there are some rideable trails that are probably great....
Summary: Me and my sidekick Stevie were enjoying the downhill run from FS 475/ Longbranch trail when we came to the interesection of Butter Gap. Back to Picklesimer fields, a cold beer, and a pork chop? Hang a right into the forest for more of Pisgah's excellent singletrack?
Of course we went for more. Let me tell you my friends, we went for much more. Butter Gap is a demanding trail, characterized by steep water transitions, sustained climbing on 6% grade singletrack requiring good line choices and a ready burst out of the saddle. Daylight running low, we made every effort to connect with FS 2251 (it seems obvious on the map, but it ain't.)
We humped our bikes another hour on the Art loeb hiking trail (no disrespect intended) and eventually called it quits for the night at the intersection of Cat Gap and John Rock trails. Tantalizingly close to the fish hatchery, cold beer, and that pork chop. There was no moon and we feared we might wander off a cliff so we bivied. No food, no lights, not enough water, and one long cold night sleeping on pine boughs with the worthless map as a blanket. We took turns dozing and stoking the fire which Stevie started by burning my spare tube (once again, I apologize, no disrecpect to the forest intended, but it was cold dude!)At first light we rose, clicked in and rode out. The final run to the hatchery, up the Davidson River trail at dawn was a fast ride and I reccomend it for anyone. Bottom line- Pisgah is for real, Stevie and I are dumbasses, and that pork chop was damn good when I got my hands on it.
Recommended Route: Go up, then down. Consider the mountain factor. The rough terrain and technical ascents/ descents make a 10 mile loop at Pisgah a serious endeavor. Carry an extra layer, and a glo-stick would have helped too.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Daniel Ridge Loop, Buckhorn Gap, Not Butter Gap necessarily. I hope you dig rocks, there's plenty.
You don't ask for epic, epic asks for you.
Review Date September 23, 2003
Overall Rating 4 of 5
Aerobic Difficulty 4 of 5
Technical Difficulty 4 of 5
Ridden Trail: Ridden Once
Visitors rate this review 5.00 of 5,
, from Louisville
Summary: Not to plug anything, but I have the Parham book and it helped quite a bit. I was on a 5 day trip from 400 miles away so I tried to prepare as best I could to hit the right trails for me. That being said, if I lived in the area, or was riding with someone who knew some good routes, this place would be unreal. These rides are definitely not for the beginner, and you'd better be in reasonable shape even if you're experienced.
The downhills are crazy, but remember, you've got to get to the top first. Some of the climbs are very tough, but you feel rewarded when you make it. You can find pretty much any type of riding you want, from ridge rides to dense forest singletrack.
Recommended Route: Daniel Ridge, Spencer Branch, and Bear Branch. These were my favorite rides in Pisgah.
Other recommended trails in the same area: DuPont State Forest is also very cool.
Review Date June 3, 2003
Overall Rating 5 of 5
Ridden Trail: Once a week
Visitors rate this review 1.00 of 5,
Reviewed by: Chris
, from Cullman, AL, USA
Summary: This is a great trail. Not to hard uphill ok down hill. Great trail. I live close to it so I ride it a lot. I think "just starting" are good
Recommended Route: Counter-clockwise. Do not turn on grassy RD. Start on the closest place toward the Forest entrance.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Try Coontree loop. Push your self. Go to Coontree and go across road and join trail.
Review Date April 27, 2003
Overall Rating 4 of 5
Ridden Trail: Ridden Once
Reviewed by: Bryan And Tammy
, from Acworth GA
Summary: We made two rides this weekend Black Mountain and Pilot Cove loop. If we had more area info we would have taken different routes. There were serious hik-a-bike sections. Bring extra hiking shoes or get your climb on. Great trails if ridden in the right directions. The locals who ride these trails have earned my respect. Pisgah 2 Bryan and Tammy 0, but we will be back.
Recommended Route: The correct route do some research and ask locals.
Other recommended trails in the same area: none yet