by Sandy McLeod
Many come through the Asheville area in search of ever increasing thrills and challenges for mountain bike riding. In the mountains of Western North Carolina, biking is a sport that requires endurance for uphill grades and agility and caution for downhill rides. Mountain bikers often travel in small groups for safety. The mountain bike trails just south of Asheville are numerous and offer unique views and trail features not found elsewhere.
Fortunately, some of the best mountain biking trails available in this area are just 10 miles southwest of Asheville in the Bent Creek Research and Demonstration Area. As the name suggests, Bent Creek is a watershed area under scientific study. For the biker, this type of terrain is rough, varied and sometimes full of surprises.
Steep slopes are certainly a dominant feature in Bent Creek that appeal to the adventurous mountain biker. Lake Powhatan Recreation Area is an excellent place to park, with bathrooms and hot showers for campers. Biking enthusiasts are also welcome to park at the nearby North Carolina Arboretum parking lot and bike over to the trailheads.
Just pack some food, plenty of water, and check the bicycle and gear. Then head out to one of North Carolina’s wilderness areas. Bent Creek is a popular area for bikers and kayakers, because there’s also a River Park nearby, with small boat launches. The area can get crowded, especially on weekends, because it is in Asheville.
In years past, Bent Creek had very little signage to direct the mountain biker, so many were riding in areas where bikes are not permitted. Now Bent Creek has specific signage at trailheads. Trails where bikes are allowed are noted in red, blue and yellow on the Pisgah National Forest Bent Creek Trail Map. Obtain a map of Bent Creek online or from Pisgah National Forest to determine the best route to trails where bicycles are allowed.
Mountain Bikers need to stay on designated trails at all times for their own safety and the safety of others. A $75 ticket could be issued for disregarding these trail rules.
Recommended Short and Challenging Bike Trails in Bent Creek
Access these trail heads from the Powhatan Recreation Area Parking Lot.
Homestead Loop: This trail is an easy grade and just one mile long. It connects to Pine Tree Loop.
Pine Tree Loop: This trail is 2 miles round trip and is also easy with very little increase in elevation.
Explorer Loop: For the mountain biker who wants more of a challenge, Explorer Loop is a three-mile round trip commitment with a medium grade. It’s basically an extension of Pine Tree Loop.
The biker in search of a real challenge will want to take bike paths off Rice Pinnacle Road and Ledford Branch. These connecting gravel roads offer access to higher bike climbs with some excellent views of the whole Bent Creek Watershed.
Whether you’re biking for the day, or in the Bent Creek area an entire week or more, making the trip to Asheville to sample some of the mountain trails is sure to be worth it.
Reserve a cabin in Asheville with a hot tub.