By : Ian Buggey
It was a week after Dirt Rag’s Dirtfest and all that separated me and epic riding in Pisgah National Forest was an 8 hour car ride from my home in the D.C. Metro area armed with a Krampus and an Ice Cream Truck. I managed to get to Asheville just in time for dinner and meet a few friends at The Rankin Vault, one of the better burger places in downtown Asheville, NC.
The next morning I woke up put on a 120mm Bluto then did two short rides since many of us were running on only a few hours of sleep. The first ride was just off of interstate 70 named Kitsuma. The ride started off with steep smooth switchbacks followed by a smooth flowey downhill, the Bluto was amazing helping me carry speed through some of the downhill switchbacks. When we reached the bottom we broke for a snack then proceeded to climb a section of old interstate 70 where we stopped at some of the beautiful vantage points. You can find more information of my Garmin connect page here.
I recommend this ride to anyone that might have a time constraint since a non- technical 10 mile trail. After the ride we went to Richmond Hill Park with about 5 miles of tight twisty single track just north of downtown Asheville. I wouldn’t consider either of these trails a destination or must ride in N.C., but rather good trails to get out getting a quick ride in (the day you get into town or leave town).
Friday was the big ride day we started early in the morning and drove deep into the Pisgah wilderness to ride some of the destinations trails including Laurel Mountain and Pilot Rock trails. We managed to string together a 27+ mile loop with 3,900 feet of climbing with the aid of the super handy MTB Project app with minimal road riding. We started off as the beginning of the Laurel Mountain Trail and climbed up to Pilot Rock, 95% of the trail was doable on my ICT, but there were times I threw it over my shoulder and did some rock climbing. We stopped for lunch on the Pilot Rock trail, and then rode down the gnarly downhill with super rock switchbacks, my friend John made easy work out of this with his carbon Salsa Bucksaw, the stock dropper post let him make the rocky downhill switchbacks look easy, as for the ICT it was a bit more challenging I found myself walking down some sections and getting hung up on the back of my saddle (a dropper post would have worked well).
From Pilot Rock we road down a dirt road for a few miles then got onto the South Mills River trail this was a flat trail that overlooked a beautiful creek there were some rocks here and there and a few water bars that kept the trail interesting.
We broke for a quick snack at the swinging bridge then took the Squirrel Gap trail, this was a mixture of smooth and flowy single track with occasional roots and rocks in some sections, this was a beautiful trail that most riders in the area do and out and back ride, I highly recommend riding it.
We made a turn off to the Laurel Creek Trail, a water bar filled downhill that left you with a smile on your face. There were a lot of water bars, some that were a 2 foot drop making it possible to get some nice air. At the bottom we crossed a small creek and proceeded to climb 5 miles to where we parked at the beginning of the Laurel Mountain Trail. The climb was enjoyable and scenic. We finished the day with a few beers at the Oscar Blues Brewery in nearby Bavard, N.C., you can see the route here.
The next day we needed an easy ride so we ended up at DuPont State Forrest. DuPont was a little over rated in my personal opinion (sorry folks) given the amount of gravel roads you have to ride. The single track that was there was top notch, but in order to get to it we had to ride a significant amount of gravel roads within the park. The trails were very fast and flowy with little to no rocks and a few rooty sections. At the top of the park is an air strip that offers great scenic views with some nice flowy trails. If you are looking for continuous, technical single track, this is not your place. I recommend using the MTB Project app and following the Best of DuPont ride if you want to ride here. We finished the day with a swim in nearby Hooker falls and a trip to the Sierra Nevada Brewery.
The only thing I should have done different was spend a few more days down there to do another ride in the more technical areas of Pisgah National Forest (The Black Mountain Trail) and ride the trails at Bent Creek.
About the Author:
Ian has been keepin’ it fat since 2011 a Pennsylvania native transplanted to the Washington D.C. Metro area.