Favorite North Mills Routes- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Favorite North Mills Routes

    I'm about to move and my main point of entry to Pisgah will be North Mills instead of 276. I've never explored this area and have no idea how to piece together the trails and gravel roads. What are your favorite routes in that neck of the woods?

  2. #2
    since 4/10/2009
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    there's a ton of ways you can carve that area up. my understanding is that at some point, there's going to be a connector built between big creek and laurel mtn trail that'll add more route options.

    check out mtbproject and trailforks. There are a few different loops posted on both of those sites that would be worth exploring.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by COTarHeel View Post
    I'm about to move and my main point of entry to Pisgah will be North Mills instead of 276. I've never explored this area and have no idea how to piece together the trails and gravel roads. What are your favorite routes in that neck of the woods?
    FS 1206, Yellow Gap road, runs from N. Mills to 276. Depending on your fitness level, you can pretty much combine anything on the North side of of this road. South of 1206 you're going to get wet, possibly go swimming, if you want to create a loop using those trails/roads.

    The most popular routes from N. Mills are going up 5000, down Spencer or Trace, repeat. Plus some combination of Never Ending road, down Middle Fork, or down Fletcher. Or 1206 to Laurel, down Pilot Rock, up Slate Rock, down Pilot Cove.

    In the summer (because water crossings), you can go 1206 to Laurel to the Parkway, back down Big Creek. You'll need to carry your bike up the last section of Laurel to the PKWY, then walk it on the MST until you get on the PKWY by the tunnel to drop in on Big Creek.

  4. #4
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    On MTB Project there's a route called Mostah Mills. It's a decent route to hit most of the good stuff in the NMR area except Middle Trace.

    If you get out there with any regularity there's a connector trail from the top of Middle Fork to Big Creek. It's not on MTB Project but it adds some nice options.

  5. #5
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    There are really 3 main legal trails/routes you can ride there:

    Spencer/Fletcher - Flow trail with a lot of rock armoring (Spencer), ends in Fletcher Creek which is fast with some small rocky sections. Some minor creek crossings that usually aren't too deep.

    Trace Ridge - More 'natural', very eroded, more technical than Spencer, but nothing like what you get off 276. It also changes pretty frequently. It's rocky in sections, flowy-ish in sections, chunky in sections.

    Bear Branch - Short loop from the horse camp, I think ~4 miles total, decent addon. Nothing super technical or challenging, but some loose rocky bits.

    Currently the gate at the bottom is closed (?), so you have two ways of getting to the point where most people start (the horse camp). One is to go up Lower Trace, which is off the main road at the bottom. You have a pretty intense river crossing though, which can move quick and be very cold this time of year, and Lower Trace tends to be pretty swampy. The crossing is manageable but I don't make a habit of it (don't try to ride across it, you will fall). The other is to park and ride up the gravel to the horse camp.

    Once you reach the horse camp, you are going to ride right at the fork past a metal gate and continue on. If you are doing Bear Branch, the first road on your right will take you there. If you are doing the other two, the climb is mostly the same, continue on 5000 until you see a gate on the left, take that gate to Spencer Gap, which you climb to the top of both trails. The Spencer climb is really interesting IMO and has some cool technical sections.

    Trailforks is the most useful around here IMO.

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    I like to do out & backs on Bradley Creek trail.

  7. #7
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    Mills is my favorite place to start rides. Here's few of my go-to routes, although I usually start from the top of 5000 at the Parkway, so having to think about other starting points.

    From the campground, any combination of Laurel, Pilot, Slate. You get the joy of warming up on the 1206 climb or you can drive up the gravel, your choice. There is still no better ride than Laurel Pilot and/or adding a trip to Slate at the end.

    From Trace Ridge area:

    5000>Spencer Gap>Trace down>5097>Up Upper Spencer Branch>Spencer Gap>5000>Bear Branch loop, I can't remember the # to the top of Bear.

    5097>Lower Spencer>Up Middle>5097>Fletcher>Reservoir Road.

    5000>Spencer Gap>Upper Spencer>5097>Fletcher>Reservoir Road.

    classic 5000>Spencer Gap>Trace Ridge. Again, adding Bear branch is easy at any time.

  8. #8
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Brown View Post
    Mills is my favorite place to start rides. Here's few of my go-to routes, although I usually start from the top of 5000 at the Parkway, so having to think about other starting points.

    From the campground, any combination of Laurel, Pilot, Slate. You get the joy of warming up on the 1206 climb or you can drive up the gravel, your choice. There is still no better ride than Laurel Pilot and/or adding a trip to Slate at the end.

    From Trace Ridge area:

    5000>Spencer Gap>Trace down>5097>Up Upper Spencer Branch>Spencer Gap>5000>Bear Branch loop, I can't remember the # to the top of Bear.

    5097>Lower Spencer>Up Middle>5097>Fletcher>Reservoir Road.

    5000>Spencer Gap>Upper Spencer>5097>Fletcher>Reservoir Road.

    classic 5000>Spencer Gap>Trace Ridge. Again, adding Bear branch is easy at any time.
    I've done a couple of those and have a couple of others on my "list". I really like the Mills River area.

    Staying below the Neverending Rd. is reasonably good in most spots for beginners, or if you're looking for an easy ride to keep climbing totals down (harder to do around here). Routes including upper Spencer/Fletcher are great intros to Pisgah for intermediate riders who are here for the first time, and as progression from the beginner stuff up to more difficult trails.

    We've been trying to plan a ride there for the middle/high school team for awhile. The thing holding us back are the big, mandatory creek crossings that the beginners would have to do below Neverending Rd., since most of them aren't quite ready for Upper Spencer/Fletcher. It's too cold to be taking the kids through that stuff, especially with as wet as it's been.

  9. #9
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    There a plenty of great trails in N. Mills that folks have mentioned but a great way to expand the options is going over the gap down into Bent Creek.

    N. Mills has alot of water crossings so it can be tricky to ride when its really cold and wet. The Spencer Branch/Spencer Gap route is great and you can hit the Fletcher Cr. cut off on Never Ending Road to avoid the creek crossings on upper Fletcher Creek.

    And the Spencer Branch/Trace Ridge ride is always a blast and you can add Bear Branch or Lower Trace to get more mileage.

    There are also a ton of off-map trails and old roads too that are great fun exploring

    Not sure when the gate on FR5000 will open or the one on 1206 but once they do you wont have to pedal so much gravel to get to the single track.

    Not sure if they still hold it but there is a group that meets at N. Mills on Sunday mornings that you can meet up with to get a tour of the place.

    N. Mills is a great "in between" for those looking for more challenging trails than Bent Creek but aren't quite ready for the gnar gnar at the Ranger Station, Hatchery, etc.
    On your left!

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