Top places to mountain bike in North Carolina
Welcome to our latest effort in our quest to build a comprehensive list of places to play in North Carolina: Mountain biking.
North Carolina, if you aren’t aware, is a hot spot for mountain biking. Last year, Outside magazine named the Pisgah National Forest one of the top five mountain biking destinations in the U.S. Singletracks.com asked its followers to name the their favorite trails in the world, and four were in the state: Tsali, the Fletcher Creek area of Mills River, Bent Creek near Asheville and Overmountain Victory Trail at Kerr Scott Reservoir near Wilkesboro.
You want an epic ride? You don’t have to go far if you live in North Carolina.
Here’s our preliminary offering of 19 places to ride that we think are pretty swell. But we want to hear what you think. Think a place on our list is overrated and should be replaced? Let us know. Have we made a glaring omission? Fill us in. Or maybe we’ve omitted a key detail about one of the places that is listed. Tell us about that as well.
We’ll update the list periodically, and so you don’t have to go searching around the site to find, it will live permanently in the left rail of our home page. Scroll down to “Mountain biking,” click and you’re in business.
And send us your thoughts. Nothing like another good excuse to ride.
1. Colonel Francis Beatty Park, 4330 Weddington Road. 5.75 miles. Relatively flat singletrack loop that’s mildly technical. Good beginner venue. Details here or call (704) 643-5725.
2. Lake Norman State Park, 159 Inland Sea Lane, Troutman. 17.5 miles. Rare North Carolina State Park singletrack is known for good flow and opportunities for beginners and advanced riders alike. Details here or call (704) 528-6350.
3. National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Parkway. 17 miles. Well-groomed, well-marked trail network with good mix of beginner, intermediate and advanced trail. Bike rental included with price of admission to NWC, though you only need to pay parking fee to ride the trails. Details here or call (704) 391-3900.
Other trails of note: North Meck, Huntersville; Beech Springs/Poplar Tent, Concord; Sherman Branch, Midland; Anne Close Springs Greenway, Fort Mill, S.C.
4. Hobby Park, 2301 West Clemmonsville Road, Winston-Salem. 7 miles. Long-standing Triad mountain biking tradition, Hobby Park is geared toward more advanced riders. Details here or call (336) 727-8000.
5. Northeast Park, 3421 Northeast Park Drive, Gibsonville (use 4010 High Rock Road for GPS purposes). 5 miles. New network is gaining a reputation for fast flow. Details here or call (336) 375-2322.
6. Owls Roost/Bur Mill Park, 5834 Bur-Mill Club Road, Greensboro. 5 miles. An oldie and enduring goldie for good reasons: one, the flow has been compared to a good mountain ride and two, the trail connects with others in Greensboro’s vast Watershed Lakes trail network. Details here or cll (336) 373-3800
Other trails of note: Country Park, Bald Eagle, Wild Turkey, Reedy Fork, Lake Brandt, Hagen Stone, Greensboro; Salem Lake, Horizon Park, Tanglewood, Winston-Salem.
7. Carolina North, 1089 Municipal Drive, Chapel Hill. 20 miles (approximate). Mileage includes official trail on 750-acre holding of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and adjoining unofficial trail behind Seawell Elementary School. Mix of double and single track. Details here or call (919) 883-8930.
8. Harris Lake County Park, 2112 County Park Dr., New Hill. 8 miles. Clearly marked trail distinguishes beginner, intermediate and advanced trail, though advanced trail includes ride-arounds making even toughest trail accessible to most riders. Details here or call 919-3874342.
9. Lake Crabtree County Park, 1400 Aviation Parkway, Morrisville. 8 miles. The most popular trail network in the Triangle, in park because of its central location, in part because it’s very beginner friendly. Adjoins more challenging bandit trail and 13-miles of bike and bridle trail at neighboring Umstead State Park. Details here or call 919-460-3390.
Other trails of note: Little River Regional Park, Durham; Briar Chapel, Chapel Hill; New Light and Beaverdam, Falls Lake State Recreation Area; Legend Park, Clayton; Garner Recreation Park, Garner.
Elsewhere in the Piedmont
10. W Kerr Scott Reservoir Trails: Dark Mountain, Overmountain Victory Trail, Fish Dam Creek Trail, Warrior Creek trails, Wilkesboro. 35 miles combined. These are popular destination trails: Get in shape, then come ride for the weekend on these well-designed and maintained trails. Beginners should start with the Overmountain Victory Trail. Details here.
11. Uwharrie Mountains: Keyauwee, Supertree, Wood Run Road trails. 22 miles combined. 10 miles west of Troy on NC 24/27. Longtime trail network underwent a facelift in 2011, to rave reviews. Wood Run is 11 miles of easy, aerobic fire road, Supertree is 5 miles of easy to moderate singletrack, Keyauwee is 6 miles of more challenging singletrack. Details here and here.
12. Bent Creek Experimental Forest, Asheville. 24 miles. A big trail network of singletrack and double track on its own, it connects with other trails in the region to create some true epic rides. Proximity to Asheville makes it especially popular. Details here or call 828-667-5261.
13. Davidson River area of Pisgah National Forest, Brevard. 100+ miles. Davidson River campground makes a great base camp for exploring this vast network of trail, the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education and Fish Hatchery is where several of the top trails depart. Some trails are only open to mountain biking from mid-October into spring. Details here.
14. DuPont Forest, between Hendersonville and Brevard. About 100 miles of all kinds of trail, from challenging double track to challenging singletrack to slickrock. Great scenery, with lots of waterfalls. Details here.
15. Kitsuma, Old Fort. 10 miles. The climb up 14 switchbacks is a grind, but the payoff is four miles of fast, rolling mostly downhill that make Kitsuma a Pisgah classic. Details here.
16. Mills River area of the Pisgah National Forest, Mills River. 82 miles. Adjoining the Davidson River area, this is another classic Pisgah collection. Most notable are the Fletcher Creek and Laurel Mountain trails. Details here.
17. Tsali Recreation Area, NC 28 at FS 1286, Bryson City area. 40 miles. Fee. Long noted for its great flow and mileage, Tsali consists of four big loops. Mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians share the trails, with useage split up by day of the week. Details here.
18. Bicycle Post, Short Bridge Road near Kings Crossing Road, Greenville. 10 miles. ($2 fee for non EC Velo Club members). Lots of trail on a small parcel of private land (hence the fee) and a remarkable — this is the coastal plain, after all — 500 feet of vertical climbing throughout. Details here or call (252) 756-3301.
19. Blue Cay, 3950 Juvenile Center Road, Castle Hayne (Wilmington area). 7 miles. Great example of a great bandit trail network evolving into a great legal network. More technical challenge than you might expect at the coast. Details here.
Other trails of note: Stoney Creek Trail, Jacksonville; Brunswick Nature Park, Wilmington area.