Located in south Asheville in the Pisgah National Forest and adjacent to the NC Arboretum and the Blue Ridge Parkway is the Bent Creek Research and Demonstration Forest and Lake Powhatan Recreation Area.
Bent Creek Experimental Forest Mountain Biking
The collection of trails is well suited to beginning and intermediate mountain bikers, families, and groups. With some trails containing large climbs and technical sections, more advanced riders will have fun here as well. The nearly 30 miles of doubletrack and singletrack open for biking in Bent Creek Forest - with options for all skill and adventure levels. The easier Hardtimes Trail follows a forest service road leading to Lake Powhatan and links to a maze of trails.
Bent Creek is a local's favorite because it is just a quick drive from Asheville. The road leads into a part of the original 1,100 acres George Vanderbilt purchased south of Asheville, part of which now contains the Biltmore House. None of the trails in Bent Creek are extremely technical, but there's definitely some challenging ones.
Directions to Hardtimes Trailhead: From Asheville, take I-240 west to I-26 east and take exit #33 on NC 191. Turn left, pass the Asheville Outlets, and go south on NC 191 for two miles. Turn right at the stoplight onto Bent Creek Ranch Road, following the brown signs to the Lake Powhatan Recreation Area (bear left at fork after 0.2 mi on this road). The signed Hardtimes trailhead parking area is two miles down this road on the left. Other popular starting points are beyond Hardtimes further toward Lake Powhatan. There is a $2/person day use fee for the Lake Powhatan with more parking and camping. Download a NPS Map of Bent Creek Trails.
Lake Powhatan Recreation Area & Campground
Located adjacent to Bent Creek is Lake Powhatan Recreation Area and Campground, a heavily wooded area on the banks of a small lake. If you don't camp, you can also enjoy the area with a day visit ($2/person) for a picnic or an easy one-mile hike around the lake. There's a beach for swimming and a pier for fishing in the trout-stocked lake. Weekend interpretive programs run from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend.
The shaded, private campsites are organized into four loops, all within walking distance of the lake. Provided are picnic tables, tent pads, lantern posts and campfire rings with grills, in addition to restrooms with hot showers and flush toilets. A few sites have full hookups for RVs. Campers can purchase ice and firewood and rent tubes on-site.
Open March-November. Gate closes at 10 PM and reopens at 7 AM. Reservations must be made four days in advance. Must occupy site within first 24 hours or forfeit site. Sites are available for reservation. First Come / First Serve sites available. Reserve online or call 1-877-444-6777.
Camping costs are $22/site with 98 sites available. The maximum number of vehicles / people per site are 2 vehicles / 8 persons. There is a $5 for each additional vehicle. Pets must remain on leash. Quiet hours 10 PM to 7 AM. No boats allowed on lake. Camping equipment must fit on the site.
The Sierra Nevada Brewery is about 11 miles away.
Directions: I-26, take exit 33, south approximately two miles on NC Highway 191 to the Lake Powhatan Recreation Area sign. Turn right and follow signs to campground.
See our Camping Guide for more places in the mountains to camp!
Guided Mountain Bike Rides
For road bikes, the popular spot is the Blue Ridge Parkway. Read some great tips about biking on the Blue Ridge... read more