Sherman Branch is a mountain bike rider’s park. The land, managed and maintained by the Tarheel Trailblazers, doesn’t have a fishing pond or swing sets. No ballfields or nature centers interrupt the dense canopy of piedmont forest. There are a small parking lot and an 11.2 mile trail system. Nothing else.
Some of the best trail design in Charlotte has gone into this single track. Bridges, burms, and risers fluidly mix with the natural slop that defines the park.
What Makes It Great
The trail system is compressed of three options. The 6.9 mile Main Loop is the longest trail and the connector to get to other options in the park. While there are a few optional, advanced features, the Main Loop is mostly fast and flowing. Long stretches of flat straightaways and smooth turns coupled with moderate climbs allow you to wind up some serious speed.
A short distance in on the Main Loop you’re presented with a choice. Continue on or have a go on the Roller Coaster Trail. For it’s steeper inclines, fast descents, and tight corners this trail is both well named and a more technical ride. And it’s a blast for intermediate to advanced bikers. The 1.8 miles of Roller Coaster will feel much longer if you’re not prepared.
After Roller Coaster has dumped you back on the Main Loop and you’ve completed most of it’s smooth singletrack, you arrive at your second and final optional trail: Big Lake Trail. The 2.1 mile single track doesn’t have the quick turns of Rollar Coaster but does keep riders honest with plenty of rock gardens
Who is Going to Love It
Advanced riders spend many of their biking afternoons at Sherman Branch for the workout of speeding through 11 miles. For the beginner, the Main Loop is mild enough to gain trail confidence. But the best part is that a fire road splits the long trail, crossing it in several places. So beginners have an escape back to the parking lot if 6.9 miles is a bit beyond their comfort zone.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The trail head is easy to locate by the map kiosk in the back of the small parking lot. The only facilities are a port-a-john so bring plenty of water.
The trails are usually closed for 24 hours after significant rainfall. This is to protect the rider but also to protect the trail. Knobby, aggressive mountain bike tires tare up rain soaked dirt trails, making the work of volunteers who maintain them much more difficult.