Mountain Biking: Piedmont
There's a surprising amount of good mountain biking close to North Carolina's population centers.
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.
7. Moore's Springs Trails, near Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury. 8 miles. New network that's getting a lot of buzz. Says the Web site: "Expect singletrack, rock ledges, fast flow, stream crossings and beautiful views of the Sauratown Mountains." Details here and here.
Other trails of note: Country Park, Bald Eagle, Wild Turkey, Reedy Fork, Lake Brandt, Hagen Stone, Greensboro; Salem Lake, Horizon Park, Tanglewood, Winston-Salem.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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
11. 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.
12. 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.