Laurel Mountain / Pilot Rock - Mountain Biking

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Summary

Laurel to Pilot is THE classic Pisgah mountain biking loop. It generally has what everyone is looking for: gorgeous scenery and great trails. Expect a long, singletrack climb and one of the rockiest, wildest descents around.

Written by

Park Baker

Distance

16.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

10.4 miles

Difficulty

5 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

3 hours

3 - 5 hours

Seasonality

All Seasons

Dog Friendly

No

Fees Permits

No

Review

Intro

Laurel to Pilot is THE classic Pisgah forest mountain biking loop. It generally has what everyone is looking for: gorgeous scenery and great trails. You'll climb for over six miles on gorgeous mountain singletrack to reach the top of Laurel Mountain trail, then lose all of that elevation on a two-mile shred down the Pilot Rock Trail. If you like technical trails, Pilot Rock is no joke; it's one of the rockiest, rootiest, wildest descents around. Tight, rocky switchbacks, plenty of short drops, rocks, and more rocks make it one of the best downhills in Pisgah.

What Makes It Great

Laurel Mountain trail is a narrow bench cut that snakes in and out of coves on its 8 mile ascent to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trail's namesake is surely a nod to it's beauty, as the entire southern facing slope of the climb is covered in lush Mountain Laurel, and in the summer, the trail is littered in petals. Rattlesnakes favor this sunny hillside, and can often be seen sprawled in the flat area of the trail. If you come across one, they are not aggressive but should be hurried along with a nice long stick.

This is no easy spin to the top; mean rocky uphill lunges force many to dismount and walk. Spring heads pop out of the side of the mountain onto outsloping rocks and often the only way to clean it is to take the high line. We encourage that, it shows good form. Nearly all of Laurel Mountain trail is rideable, except for a hike-a-bike near the top. Once you crest the ridge at around 4800 feet above sea level, the downhill starts out mellow but quickly drops into switchbacks that gradually become steeper and harder until you pop out on the gravel road below. 

From Pilot Rock trail (#321), ride east towards the Laurel Mountain trailhead (#121). You will pedal on FS 1206 for about four miles before you find the trailhead on your left. Be careful of car traffic on this road; it is used regularly by people camping and dual sport motorcycles. Make the the left up Laurel Mountain (#121) and start climbing.   You will climb for about 7 miles before reaching a fork in the trail. The trail to your right goes up to parkway, stay left to continue up. The fork is not signed. Continue climbing to the intersection of Pilot Rock trail (#321), and turn left. Descend Pilot Rock trail, and your car will be right at the bottom.

Who is Going to Love It

If you like technical trails, Pilot Rock is no joke; it's one of the rockiest, rootiest, wildest descents around. Tight, rocky switchbacks, plenty of short drops, rocks, and more rocks make it one of the best downhills in Pisgah for riders who can handle it!

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From Brevard, drive up US 276 in the main entrance to Pisgah. Make a right on FS 1206 just past the Pink Beds trailhead, park at the bottom of Pilot Rock trail (#321).

Location

Laurel Mountain / Pilot Rock

Brevard, NC, 28712
35.385061, -82.731775

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