Epic or brutal? Or both? This route takes you 32 miles over some of the hardest, yet sweetest singletrack in Pisgah National Forest. If you're fit enough, this will be a ride you'll remember for the rest of your life.
This ride is a pretty brutal one - 32 miles of Pisgah's hardest terrain, and is sweet single track the whole way. There is no gravel on this ride. It will take you on a giant "rim" around the S. Mills River, and starts just at the forest entrance. You will have great views, steep climbs, some hike a bikes, and gnarly downhills. Some sections of this ride are well ridden, but others are not. There is plenty of opportunity for water on this ride, but bring your filter. There will be a few creek crossings. There are a couple bailout points on this ride, both which require a long stretch of pavement which will also have climbing.
What Makes It Great
You can do this epic ride right from the bike path in Brevard, or park at the Black Mountain trailhead just inside the forest. From here, your route will be up Black Mountain trail (#127). This singletrack climb changes a little every year, with plenty of opportunity for technically gifted riders to test their skills. Stay straight when the trail heads downhill, cross Pressley Gap and continue climbing up Black Mountain trail. You will intersect Turkey Pen trail (#322) and take this ridge all the way to Turkey Pen parking lot. This ridge has lots of ups and downs, and is the least ridden section of trail on this loop.
When you reach Turkey Pen parking lot, head straight across the gravel and up the set of steps to Vineyard Gap trail (#324). This ridge is tight and rocky, and is really a beautiful section of trail. When the trail turns downhill, it turns into a tight gully. Watch your handlebars in this rhododendron tunnel. Cross the creek at the bottom and continue on Riverside trail (#115) until you intersect Bradley Creek trail (#351), make this left and stay straight at the intersection of Squirrel Gap trail (#147).
You'll stay on Squirrel (#127) for the next two or three hours. This trail is regarded as one of the best on the east coast, and in its thirteen mile snake through Pisgah, you'll understand why. It is handbuilt east coast riding at its finest. Cantrell Creek is a good halfway point on this epic trail.
Once you reach the swinging bridge on the other side of Squirrel, cross it and head right, and settle in for the long climb up to Buckhorn Gap. Your climb on S. Mills River trail (#133) will meet with Buckhorn Gap trail (#103) on your left. Once you reach Buckhorn Gap, you will be back on Black Mountain trail (#127). Head up to your left, and the trail quickly turns nasty. Some can ride it, but most will walk this section of Black Mountain up to the ridge. Once you reach the ridge, you'll be awarded with one of the best views of the whole ride. Stay straight and you will pass the intersection of Turkey Pen trail, this time on your left. Head back down Black Mountain the way you climbed up earlier in the day. This will take you all the way back to the car or the bike path.
Who is Going to Love It
This ride is a pretty brutal one. Do not attempt this if you're not in race shape or can't handle all day technical terrain. This is 32 miles of Pisgah's hardest terrain, and is sweet single track the whole way.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
You can do this epic ride right from the bike path in Brevard, or park at the Black Mountain trailhead just inside the forest.