Just about everyone from Charlotte, North Carolina, knows that the Carolina Piedmont is an incubator for some amazing mountain bike trails. More than a hundred miles worth of singletrack slices its way through forests and over ridges in and around the Queen City. But when local riders have a little extra time, there are dozens of excellent rides to explore just outside of the greater Charlotte area.
Here are a six trails to try that are far enough away to be an adventure, but close enough to tackle in an easy day trip.
1. Lake James State Park, Morganton
For flow fanatics, there is no better trail system than the ultra-smooth track that winds through Lake James State Park. The 15-ish miles of trail in the park includes several moderate inclines with long, flowing runs back down. Dense forest provides great shade, and even when other areas of the park are packed, the trails typically stay congestion free.
You can find the trailhead at the second parking lot on the left as you enter the Paddy’s Creek area of the park.
2. George Poston, Gastonia
In somewhat of a contrast to the long, winding runs at Lake James, the trail system at George Poston Park has several sections of tight twists and turns. Built on a very convenient design of interlocking rings, the entire system is made up of five loops. In general, each loops holds a little more challenge than the last. Overall, the ride at Poston is moderate with a few baked in challenges for more experienced riders.
The mountain bike trailhead is near the entrance to the park at shelter #1.
3. Kerr Scott Trails, Wilkesboro
The International Mountain Biking Association has created a trail designation called "Epic Rides" to call out some of the best singletrack in the country, and one these trails happens to live within the Kerr Scott Reservoir Area. The entire trail system is comprised of three main sections and several shorter offshoots, and while each section has its own personality, the riding here is generally fast and chock full of berms. Expect lots of roller coaster-like runs with frequent turns—and a whole lot of fun.
There are several parking areas at Kerr Scott, but the best place to start is the visitor center at 499 Reservoir Rd in Wilkesboro, NC.
4. Wild Turkey Trail, Greensboro
Not many Charlotteans think of Greensboro as a riding destination, but perhaps the Wild Turkey Trail will help adjust that perception. At just under five miles, the well-groomed singletrack is full to fun features. Berms, bridges, moguls, and tight twists make the Wild Turkey Trail a surprise gem in the Carolina biking crown. Add in the adjacent Owls Roost Trail and you have a full day’s ride.
Note that the Wild Turkey Trail is out-and-back, so keep be aware of 2-way traffic. The trailhead for the Wild Turkey Trail is located at the Lake Brandt Marina in Greensboro, NC.
5. Kernersville Mountain Bike Park, Kernersville
Tucked in between the cities of Greensboro and Winston-Salem, the small town of Kernersville is creating a new resource for riders in the Carolina Piedmont. The Kernersville Mountain Bike Trail is currently only about three miles in length, but the plan is for the singletrack to stretch much longer. This intermediate ride includes a few berms, some interesting bridges, and other technical features. Key an eye on the expansion of this one, as it is likely to become a favorite area trail.
Parking for the Kernersville Mountain Bike Park is located at 567 Smith Edwards Road, Kernersville, NC.
6. Signal Hill, Statesville
The somewhat unassuming singletrack at Signal Hill in Statesville, NC is a great place for newer riders to get their wheels dirty. The park’s 4+ miles of trail are mostly free of technical challenges, but the course does incorporate some shifts in topography. Climbs and drops are quick but short, turns can be a little tight, but are easy enough for a beginner to manage. Of course, this lack of speed-sucking obstacles means that experienced riders can have some fun riding Signal Hill as well. To add a little more to the day, a few new miles of very rideable trail have been built just 10 minutes away at Bigleaf Slopes.
The trailhead for Signal Hill can be found about a half mile north of Broad Street on Signal Hill Road in Statesville, NC.