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  1. #1
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    Another exhausting "where to ride in Asheville?" thread

    Hi fellas,

    I'm going to be visiting Asheville next week (from New York) and I will have one whole day to ride (Thursday 11/14). I will have a car and I'm looking at one of these rides, depending on trail conditions and whatnot. Squirrel Gap/Turkey Pen looks cool, but there are no bailouts whereas Trace Ridge/Middle Fork/Fletcher Creek would let me increase or decrease mileage depending on how I feel. I'm open to other routes as well - I'm an advanced rider who will be solo, so no death-defying terrain, but I've got 3-5,000 feet of climbing in me. I plan on bringing my 140mm steel hardtail which I ride pretty much everywhere.

    Pisgah Area SORBA Blog Archive Trace Ridge / Spencer Branch / Middle Fork / Fletcher Creek (Intermediate)
    Pisgah Area SORBA Blog Archive Squirrel Gap / Turkey Pen (Advanced-Epic)

    I might be moving to Asheville in the near future so I plan on spending the rest of the day exploring the breweries. Oh, and maybe the city if there's time.

  2. #2
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    Normally I say Bent Creek or DuPont for a first timer on a solo ride in these parts.
    Especially getting in this time of year and on a week day when the trails are less traveled. Just because if you get yourself in a pinch, you could be spending the night out there. Both Bent Creek and DuPont offer plenty of good riding with plenty of opportunities to bail out and nothing that will get you in too much trouble.

    However, if you want Pisgah proper the Squirrel Gap/Turkey Pen is a good way to see it.
    All single track but some hike-a-bike sections on Black and Turkey.

    Trace Ridge is also a good ride, a lot less that will get you in a pinch but there is a little forest service road at the beginning.

    Also check out Laurel/Pilot.
    It has some good tech, rock gardens etc.
    I think it is about 15 miles but is forest road back.

    I still think hitting Pisgah proper by yourself is a little foolish especially for a first time out of towner (even if he is an advanced rider). But that is just my opinion and lots of people do it. Keep in mind that you will have zero cell phone connection the entire time when you are in Pisgah proper. If you decide to do it, pick up a good map. I suggest the Western NC Trail Guide that can be picked up at most bike shops. It is pretty detailed and the Pisgah one includes Bent Creek.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  3. #3
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    On My First Trip To Pisgah Ranger District I Rode Solo and Lived To Tell About It

  4. #4
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    Check out Bennett Gap and the Big M route.

    Two of the best downhills in the area, but in a less remote part of the woods and easy to navigate i.e. good for solo first timer. Easily linked together, they might make a good half day of riding.

    Whatever you decide, the best thing to do is stop by the Hub or Sycamore for advice before you hit the trail.

  5. #5
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    and the hub for post ride brews

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by durtydurham View Post
    On My First Trip To Pisgah Ranger District I Rode Solo and Lived To Tell About It
    Well, ur da man.

    Like I said, plenty of people do it but it isn't always smart.
    I have done lots of stupid things in my life and lived to tell about it.
    Thanks for the input though.

    BTW, The Hub is not real close to the rides he is talking about.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  7. #7
    rsa
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    Another exhausting "where to ride in Asheville?" thread

    That squirrel-turkeypen route is pretty remote, and no real bail out options short of an out and back. I've done it, but

  8. #8
    rsa
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    Another exhausting "where to ride in Asheville?" thread

    Sorry for the last post, hit "send" too early. Anyway, I'd probably avoid the turkey pen route mid week unless your very adventurous. It's a tough ride, and very isolated. On a weekday, you might not see anyone out there.

    North mills is a nice place to ride. That route has two moderately fire road sections. The trails offer up reasonable variety. It's one of my favorite places for a moderate ride, and yes, you can add or subtract depending on how you feel.

  9. #9
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    I'm leaning away from Squirrel Gap/Turkey Pen - I'll ride that one next time. I'd be amenable to Bent Creek (shoot, I wouldn't know the difference). This ride looks interesting: Pisgah Area SORBA » Blog Archive » Bent Creek Intermediate/Advanced Ride from Ledford Parking Area

    Are the trails marked at all or am I going to stop and look at a map every 5 minutes? I have an Edge 510 and a pretty good sense of direction so I'm not worried about getting lost. Bent Creek looks fast and flowy?

  10. #10
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    Pisgah is marked. Sometimes well, sometimes not so well.

    Bent Creek and DuPont are marked well.

    Some of Bent Creek is fast and flowy but not all of it.
    What are you looking for?
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  11. #11
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    After much research and advice I'm now looking at riding a Pisgah loop that would involve climbing Claw Hammer and descending Black Mountain. Basically the Big M route that was mentioned by durtydurham.

    Looking at photos of Bent Creek, it does look like fun. I don't have very much fast and flowy where I live. I might ride Pisgah in the morning and a short ride at BC after lunch.

    Are there any must ride trails that I should add on to either of these rides?

  12. #12
    rsa
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    Another exhausting "where to ride in Asheville?" thread

    Last time I rode clawhammer a few months ago (in the height of a very wet summer), they were doing grading work-- fresh gravel in spots and tons of mud in other areas. Maybe someone else can update about more recent condition

  13. #13
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    Have fun and stay safe.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  14. #14
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    Berkley, have a great trip and report what you ride. If you get the GPS track for your ride, it would be great to see it. I'm similarly coming down from Northeast (Western MA) for Tgiving week . Trying to fit 2 rides in between family activities - likely early morning and solo. I have the 18mile, 3.8k loop you linked to above, which looks pretty ideal.

    For the locals, what singlespeed gear do you recommend? I'll be bringing cogs for a 32x21 and 32x22 setup. Are there any early Thanksgiving day ride traditions? (we have a PBR & Doughnut 7am ride tradition here)

    I lived in Asheville for 9months a few years ago. Bent Creek helped me through a divorce. Now life is way better and I'm much stronger- looking forward to it.
    Selma Ti.

  15. #15
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    32x21 on a 29er is fine for most people in Pisgah. 32x22 is nicer to the knees. I used to run a 32x20, and since switching to a 21 I don't notice being slower.

    Upper Black coming down to Pressley gap is very leaf clogged, and its nice to know the lines this time of year. I took a friend down it yesterday, a cat 1 from out of town, and he didn't describe it as fun. Mostly a bunch of complaining about never walking so much on a ride.

  16. #16
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    I'm a little confused about your route. Are you doing "big M" as described on the Sorba site? If so, note that you aren't taking Clawhammer all the way to Black Mtn, you have to turn right on Maxwell cove gravel. It was a mess this summer after they graded it but it's fine now.

    If you like fast/flowy, I would turn left onto Thrift Cove where it intersects Black Mtn instead of taking Black all the way down. you climb for 2 minutes and then have a haul-ass double track dowhill. Watch for hikers, it's not the prettiest route in Pisgah, I have no idea why so many people walk up it. Then, when you get to an opening, look for the grassy road described in the BIg M link. Go up that and down Sycamore as described. That will give you 14 miles.

    Then you can either ride the road back to the workstation, take thrift cove backwards the way you came down and do the bottom of Black Mtn. that you missed before. OR...go across the street into Davidson river campground, and ride the 4 mile Northslope (seasonal...it's open now) loop counterclockwise. this will give you another smart little climb, followed by a sweet, neither steep nor rocky (notice I didn't mention roots) downhill. If it has recently rained, or there is frost, I avoid Northslope because of the roots.

  17. #17
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    If fast and flowy is your forte then DuPont should definitely be on your list.
    definitely the fastest and flowiest trails around and on a Thursday in Nov they probably won't be to busy.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by litespeedchick View Post
    If you like fast/flowy, I would turn left onto Thrift Cove where it intersects Black Mtn instead of taking Black all the way down. you climb for 2 minutes and then have a haul-ass double track dowhill. Watch for hikers, it's not the prettiest route in Pisgah, I have no idea why so many people walk up it. Then, when you get to an opening, look for the grassy road described in the BIg M link. Go up that and down Sycamore as described. That will give you 14 miles.

    Then you can either ride the road back to the workstation, take thrift cove backwards the way you came down and do the bottom of Black Mtn. that you missed before. OR...go across the street into Davidson river campground, and ride the 4 mile Northslope (seasonal...it's open now) loop counterclockwise.
    I like to ride Black past Thrift cove all the way down, and I know I'm not the only one. Very nice section of singletrack (fast/flowy?) that is not to be missed. If you do follow the Big M route as prescribed and ride Thrift, definitely do as litespeedchick suggests and loop back to ride the last bit of Black .

  19. #19
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    Another exhausting "where to ride in Asheville?" thread

    Thanks for the guidance on Big M . Now to get my hands on a map.

    I'll probably hit it Wed Nov 27th at 8am,if anyone wants to ride then.
    Selma Ti.

  20. #20
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    This is the ride I did today: Mountain Bike Ride Profile | Clawhammer, Black Mountain. Buckwheat Knob, Bennett Gap 11/14/13 Brevard, NC near Brevard | Times and Records | Strava

    The route came highly recommended from an Asheville local. If I could do it again I would choose a different set of trails. I'll give a quick review, which might ruffle some feathers but keep in mind: this is one guy's opinion. On the internet.

    The fireroad climb up (Claw Hammer) was my favorite part. It has a fairly consistent grade and with my 1x9 gearing I was able to stay seated the whole time. Then I turned left and hike-a-biked the flight of stairs to ride Black Mountain, over to Buckwheat Knob and then down Bennett Gap. It seems like these trails don't get much use once the leaves fall. They weren't packed down which made it tough to see obstacles (rocks, roots, etc) and most of the downhills were severely eroded and rutted out. Some sections of trail were eroded 3 feet deep and filled with all kinds of loose material. Because I'm 800 miles from home on trails I've never seen before I did A LOT of walking. The last thing I want is to plow my front wheel into a massive rock hidden under the leaves and faceplant. I would even say I did more walking than riding.

    Maybe these trails are better during the summer. But if you're visiting the area in the fall I would not recommend this route. Now I'm trying to plan a short ride tomorrow morning (somewhere else) to make up for it. I'm thinking Bent Creek or DuPont - probably wherever gets the most traffic and the leaves are packed down more.

  21. #21
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    On the bright side: The trails I ride WERE well marked. Do yourself a favor and buy the Pisgah Map Company map - all the shops in the area sell it. I bought mine at Youngblood bikes for $15. Very helpful. Home

  22. #22
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    Berkley, thanks fort the report . Same is true here in MA - sometimes it's more fun to stay on the well trodden paths during leaf season.

    For this reason, I might start in Bent Creek on this 18mile, 3.8k ride "Bent Creek Intermediate/Advanced Ride from Ledford Parking Area"

    Thanks for the map note.

    I Hope on your next ride in Pisgah, the singletrack beats out the fire road
    Selma Ti.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by adinpapa View Post
    For this reason, I might start in Bent Creek on this 18mile, 3.8k ride "Bent Creek Intermediate/Advanced Ride from Ledford Parking Area"
    If you are going to Bent Creek there is a much better loop than that(less mileage, but more fun). See this thread for details:
    Best loop at Bent Creek

    If you want more afterwards, then throw in Pinetree and Explorer loops.

  24. #24
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    I guess to each their own. I love that route except the fire road climb. I don't mind climbs just like single track. You did hit it probably at the peak amount of clutter on the ground and that those trails don't get used "too" much. But I love that kind of stuff.

    Either BC or du Pont would work well. I know BC better but I would probably ride Du Pont and the Cedar Rock area. Park at corn shoal mill, take the trail opposite of the parking lot. Pass big rock trail. Do burnt mountain clockwise. That means pass the first burnt mtn trail intersection keep right past the little river trail. If you get to the river crossing you went too far go back about 100 yards or so and take the burnt mtn trail. Come down where you passed earlier and ride back to the little river trail. Take that to cedar rock. The first intersection is a very tough climb. I usually go up it though and take big rock down. A lot of times I will ride back down to little river and then past the cedar rock you climbed to the second cedar rock intersection. Climb that and go back down the to the first intersection. Then back out little river and to the car. That makes for a pretty good ride and some nice granite and slick rock features that are pretty unique to the area.

    if you decide to ride BC
    Bent Creek Routes
    Sent via my heady vibes from the heart of Pisgahstan

  25. #25
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    I bet way over 100 riders have made passes down Black Mountain in the past week. Under-use is not the issue.
    First of all Black Mountain trail in some parts is an eroded sh!thole. It's become that way in the past couple of years. Still fun to ride if you're prepared for it, but I agree with that problem. I really hope that some money gets thrown intelligently (read: keep the trail most difficult) at said problem.
    Otherwise, the reason Pisgah is Pisgah is it's one of the most challenging places to ride East of the Rockies that's still well-mapped and marked. Don't come here expecting otherwise. If you are, understandably, not wanting that and are here, go to Bent Creek or DuPont. They are both AWESOME places to ride, you will see lots of people, and the traffic is increased enough that the leaf clutter might be less (like matt, I enjoy the challenge of the leaves).

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