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Mountain Biking & Bike Trails, Asheville North Carolina

Related: Cycle to Farm Ride | Hiking Guide | Outdoors Guides | Public Parks | Point Lookout Greenway | Rock Climbing | Mountain Sports Festival | Nantahala Outdoor Center | Horseback Riding & Trails | Leave No Trace | Adventure Center of Asheville
Mountain Biking, Asheville NC
Biking at Bent Creek in Asheville

Asheville Hosts Cyclo-cross National Championships in January 2016

Asheville will host the Cyclo-cross National Championships on Biltmore Estate in January 2016. USA Cycling evaluated potential host cities using various criteria, including: accessibility, community support, course options, technical expertise and the organization’s commitment to volunteer recruitment, marketing and lodging. It will be the first time this event has been held in the southeast. The national championship course will be set amongst the 8,000 acres of America’s largest home. In addition, Asheville will host an international-caliber test event ahead of the national championships in 2015.

USA Cycling Collegiate Road National
Asheville will play host to the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships in 2015 and 2016. The exact dates have not been determined, but they will be held in early May. The Mars Hill College Cycling team, a consistent cycling powerhouse which was the top-ranked Division II team in 2011-12, will be the host college.

Road Biking around Asheville
For road bikes, the popular spot is the Blue Ridge Parkway. Read some great tips about biking on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Also read a biker's journal of his ride of the entire Parkway. There are plenty of country roads to explore in the North Carolina mountains. In Asheville, Carrier Park has a paved track for biking loops and is located along the 2.8-mile French Broad River Greenway in West Asheville at the French Broad River Park. It's part of the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay Plan, a major urban waterfront redevelopment project. Our favorite paved greenway near Asheville is the Point Lookout Greenway Bike Trail, a very scenic 3.6-mile paved greenway that climbs 900 feet in elevation.

Assault on Mt. Mitchell
Bike a very challenging 102-mile supported route in May from Spartanburg, South Carolina, to the top of Mt. Mitchell. You climb a cumulative of 11,000 plus vertical feet (6,600 feet in the last 24 miles)! You can bike the entire route or take ride the Assault on Marion, a 78-mile ride that stops before the steep climb to the top. Go to their Web site.

Cycle to Farm Ride
July 18, 2015

Cycle to Farm is a popular, organized group road bike ride in the Black Mountain area that encourages and promotes local food, local farms and agritourism. Riders experience a beautiful but challenging metric century route (62 miles), enjoy tasty food samples at "Farm Stops" hosted by local farms, and purchase products at each Farm. See our Cycle to Farm Guide.

Cycle the Blue Ridge Parkway: Blowing Rock to Cherokee
July 23-27, 2015
200-mile tour by Velo Girl Rides during five days with overnight accommodations and support. Limited to 10 guests. Go to their Web site.

Asheville Gran Fondo
August 30, 2015

Gran Fondo National Championship Series® (GFNCS) benefits Friends of the Smokies. The Asheville Gran Fondo is a European-style cycling challenge that takes bicycle racing to the next level through a hybrid of competitive road racing and casual century rides, designed for cyclists of every skill level. The GFNCS circuit will stop in Asheville with courses covering 20, 60 and 100 mile journeys.The Gran Fondo Asheville will start and finish in conjunction with the Organicfest held in the heart of Asheville at Pack Square Park. The Gran Fondo Asheville features four timed sections, fully stocked aid stations along the route, food & beverage at the finish, and prizes for overall and age-group winners. There is a 500-person field limit to ensure safe riding conditions for all participants. Registration details are at

2015 Cycle North Carolina “Mountains to Coast” Ride
September 26-October 3, 2015

This weeklong cross state ride has been voted the “Best Biking in America” by the League of American Bicyclists. This ride is not a race but a leisurely ride across the state making overnight stops in North Carolina communities. Waynesville will be base camp for the initial kick-off and starting point. The first day, bicycle 55 miles to neighboring Hendersonville to spend the night before continuing on to Shelby. The ride will end at the coast on Oak Island. Cycle North Carolina caps registration at 1,100 riders, so register early. Cycle North Carolina will also host its second annual Mountain Ride in Lake Lure on August 1-2, 2015. For more info and registration, go to

Bike Rentals
If you are not bring your bike, you can rent road and mountian bikes in town at the Adventure Center of Asheville. For a convenient place to rent and service bikes near Tsali Recreational Area, go to Nantahala Outdoor Center. Their bike shop is only ten minutes from Tsali and they have their own Flint Ridge Trail with great views of the Nantahala Gorge.

Mountain Biking
As you may guess, mountain biking is big in the Asheville area of the North Carolina mountains. Just south of the city, you will find a variety of mountain bike trails at the Bent Creek Experimental Forest and the NC Arboretum next door. The Pisgah Forest District’s other popular biking areas include Bent Creek, near Asheville; Trace Ridge, near town of Mills River; Davidson River, near Brevard; and South Mills River, near town of Pisgah Forest. About an hour west of Asheville is the nationally known Tsali Recreation Area.

DuPont State ForestBent Creek Mountain Biking
Located in Asheville near the NC Arboretum, Bent Creek's collection of trails is great for all levels of mountain bike riders, with easier flat trails to trails with large climbs and technical sections. Bent Creek is popular for after-dinner rides, because it is just a few minutes' drive from downtown Asheville. Lake Powhatan has a great campground. See our Bent Creek & Lake Powhatan Guide.

DuPont State Forest - Our Favorite!
Bike to waterfalls in DuPont State Forest, fast becoming one of the leading mountain bike destinations in Western North Carolina. This forest offers 100 miles of trail, nearly all of which is open to both equestrians and mountain bikers. DuPont offers everything from gentle forest roads to exciting single track, with an impressive variety of scenic attractions located only minutes apart. Ride across a granite summit at Cedar Rock or gentle dirt roads to Bridal Veil Falls.   Download their Mountain Bike Guide.

Beech Mountain
Follow the training route of Lance Armstrong. Beech Mountain is a biker's mountain offering something for everyone. The Adventure Trail Park is a series of trails on both public and private land, maintained by the Town of Beech Mountain, that includes single track, double track, technical downhill runs, free ride areas, fire roads, and old unmaintained gravel roads. USA Cycling chose Beech Mountain Resort as the site of the Mountain Bike Gravity National Championships. The resort, the highest ski area in eastern North America, is developing the course and enhancing its lifts with the goal of creating an advanced facility for all mountain bike enthusiasts. And it's always cooler at this high elevation! See our Beech Mountain Guide.

Lake Lure
New bike trails opened in Lake Lure in 2014 at Buffalo Creek Park. The current trail snakes upward in a 3.5-mile loop that climbs approximately 500 feet through forest terrain and boulder fields. More to come soon. Read more in our Lake Lure Guide.

Biltmore Estate
If you are visiting Biltmore, take along your bike and try out their mountain biking trails - from easy to difficult. Read more.

Guided Mountain Bike Rides

Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventures
This mountain bike guide service specializes in professionally guided trips in Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Forest, near Brevard. They offer self-supported guided trips customized to individual tastes and ability levels. Half, full, and multi-day trips include a snack and lunch. They create rides focusing on downhills, single-track, or climbing, and even night rides. Experienced and trustworthy guides take all the hassles out of your planning and show you a fun experience. Let the locals show you the best Pisgah has to offer.
Click here to visit their Web site

NOC Biking

Nantahala Outdoor Center
Rent a mountain bike at NOC’s Tsali Bikes on the Nantahala River! We’re just 10 minutes from Tsali, or ride across the river on our own Flint Ridge Trail! Service and repairs, bike sales.
Tsali Bikes is located at NOC on the Nantahala River
Click here to view their Web site

Mountain Bike near Downtown Adventure Center of Asheville
This outdoor playground just five minutes from downtown has Kolo Bike Park with five miles of purpose-built trails on rolling terrain, designed for all levels. Catch some air at Kolo's pump track and jump line. Bring your bike or rent a mountain bike for use here or any of the North Carolina bike trails. Combine your ride with a zipline canopy tour and a treetops adventure - all on one property.
Click here to view their Web site

Pubcycle The Amazing Pubcycle
After a challenging bike ride in the mountains, unwind on the ultimate cycle! Ride through downtown on a wicked-cool 13-person pedal powered (motor assisted) contraption like no other. Imagine riding your bike sideways, hanging out at your favorite pub on wheels. Seven days a week April-October, weekends November-March.
Click here to view their Web site

Electric Bike Tour Electro Bike Tours of Asheville
Discover the highlights of Asheville on a guided pedal assist electric bike tour. Imagine pedaling a bike uphill with a boost; headwinds, hills, and sweaty rides are things of the past.  Wind through historic downtown and nearby neighborhoods, cruise up hills with a smile, and enjoy an unforgettable tour!
Click here to visit their Web site

Beech Mountain Scenic Chairlift
At Beech Mountain, ride the chair lift up and bike down!

Tsali Recreation Area: Mountain Biking Heaven
The popular Tsali Recreation Area has long been a top destination for mountain biking in North Carolina and even the entire eastern US. Containing nearly 40 miles of trails in a system with four excellent loops, it has been rated as one of the top 10 places to ride in the USA! The area is located on a hilly peninsula reaching into beautiful Fontana Lake, at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains. The four long main trails at Tsali wind along the lakeshore and onto the wooded, steep interior ridgelines, and many connector trails, gravel roads and extension trails make rides at Tsali even longer, more scenic, and more fun! Three main overlooks along the trails provide sweeping views of Fontana Lake with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the other side. The trails are fast, hardpacked singletrack, and they're extremely well designed and well used. Trails alternate use between mountain bikers and horseback riders on different days, two will always be open to mountain biking. There is a $2.00 trail use fee for one day, but Tsali is well worth two bucks!

Tsali's jumping off point is the end of FR 1286, where the trailhead, campground, and boat launch are located. Tsali can be quite crowded on summer weekends. This means the parking lot will probably be pretty full. Don't let this deter you from riding here, however. Finding a place to park is not a problem unless there's an event such as a race going on. While on the trails, you might encounter other riders frequently - so keep that in mind as you pick up speed. Despite this, the trails are hardly ever so crowded that you can't find seclusion. Even on the most crowded days, you can often ride for miles without seeing anyone else. To avoid the crowds, try to visit during the week. Tsali's Left and Right Loop trails can be combined to make a great, but difficult, 18-mile ride.

Located at the entrance to the trailhead parking lot is the Trailhead Store, a small stand which sells Tsali souvenirs such as bumper stickers, postcards, and t-shirts. There's also firewood for the campground and for the trail they have handy items such as power bars, cold drinks, tubes, brake pads, guide books, and even helmets. Though this may have destroyed any remaining illusion of being in the wilderness when you're in the parking area, some of that stuff can really come in handy (especially the cold drinks on a hot day!).

Directions to Tsali: From Asheville, take I-40 West to Exit 27. Follow Highway 74 past Bryson City (Great Smoky Mountains Expressway) to intersection with NC 28 North. Follow NC 28 North about 3 miles (through heavy construction; this road is being widened to four lanes) to the sign for the Tsali Recreation Area; turn right. Follow this newly paved road to the campground and trailhead parking lot; park in the lot signed "Riders Park and Pay Here."

Download Tsali Guide (PDF) | Full list of Tsali Trails.


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