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  1. #1
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    Flat Laurel / Ivestor

    Crazy hot in Atlanta. I seek higher ground. Might do a car-camping/riding/hiking trip with the dog up that way. What sort of ride can be pieced together using Flat Laurel and Ivestor? Pavement is no bueno, will have the dog with me. Looks like out-and-back only? My 780 map says graveyard ridge trail #91 is partly open to bikes... can I ride the section that connects to Ivestor?

    My 780 map also shows a campsite off 215 near one end Flat Laurel Creek trail. Any info on that site, or recommendations for others (maybe near the black balsam parking on the other end of the trail)?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Flat Laurel and Ivestor are the only trails (to the best of my knowledge) that are OK for bikes up there. Out and back on Ivestor then out and back on Flat Laurel would be about 8.5 miles and 1600' climbing. Not very strenuous but very rewarding in terms of great high (for NC) altitude riding. The views are incredible. The best place to camp (in my opinion) is right at Ivestor Gap. It's an easy hike in. The one at 215 doesn't really have much going for it other than having your car right there with you. Otherwise it's pretty much right on 215.

    edit: The last time I camped up there was after they opened the gate to 4x4 traffic in the Fall. If you're daring/skilled enough you cannot beat the car camp experience at Ivestor:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Flat Laurel / Ivestor-p1010047small.jpg  

    Flat Laurel / Ivestor-p1010035cropsmall.jpg  

    Flat Laurel / Ivestor-p1010040small.jpg  

    Flat Laurel / Ivestor-p1010042small.jpg  

    Last edited by pisgahproductions; 08-02-2010 at 03:17 PM.
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  3. #3
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    -1 on 215 camping, like PisgahPro says it is right on 215 and it gets heavily used, often no room to park on the weekends and quite a variety of characters since it is so easy to access. The trail is a real beauty though and very few of the campers go up it. But there aren't really any campsites up the trail until you get up to Flat Laurel Creek.

    You should bring a bike lock as there are many hike-only side trails worth exploring (Sam Knob for instance, or the top of Black Balsam) and you'll need to ditch the bike for those.

    Bring light and blinky if you plan to get on the Parkway with the bike at all - and make sure you've got a leash with you at all times, especially up at Black Balsam where you might run into a Forest or Park Ranger.

    I'll temp you with a few pictures from a trip to the top of Sam Knob.... (circa 11/2009)

    Looking south over Devil's Courthouse down into SC (that's Lake Jocassee way in the distance)

    Looking westerly towards the Smokies

    Flat Laurel Creek
    many gears, some pies

  4. #4
    drunken pirate
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    Graveyard Ridge is bike legal from Ivestor to the intersection with the Mountains to Sea.

    There are a half dozen or so good campsites on Flat Laurel creek but you will have to walk in to them.
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  5. #5
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    Thanks all, good stuff. I need bikepacking gear!

    Or maybe... hike in -> set up camp -> hike out to get bike -> bike in? Extra food and water in the car?

  6. #6
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    Big ol' bump from last summer ...

    I'm looking to do Flat Laurel and Ivestor before the seasonals close. Planning to park at Black Balsam, do Flat Laurel as a loop with 215 and the Parkway, back to the parking area, then Ivestor out and back. Which begs a couple of questions ...

    1 -- is the Parkway open up there from 276 over to Black Balsam?
    2 -- if I link Ivestor and Graveyard, do I have to hike? Or does the trail run on the edge of Shining Rock? (Various 780s show different info, but all show at least part of Trail 356 - Graveyard Ridge - is ridable/seasonal)
    3 -- What kind of time am I looking at?

    Thanks to anyone who knows this stuff first-hand ...

  7. #7
    drunken pirate
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    Flat Laurel Creek, Ivestor Gap and Graveyard Ridge are not seasonal trails. You can ride them all year.

    1 - You should call the parkway at 828-298-0398 before driving up to Black Balsam as road conditions change daily. The parkway is open right now but could be closed tomorrow morning.

    2 - Ivestor Gap and Graveyard Ridge are best done as an out and back. You cannot ride past the Shining Rock Wilderness sign on Ivestor Gap trail and cannot ride past the intersection with the Mountains to Sea trail (#440) on Graveyard Ridge (it is clearly signed there). You could either hike West on Mtns. to Sea or hike South on Graveyard Ridge to make a loop out of it but I would advise just doing it as an out and back instead. The whole Graveyard Ridge area is extremely popular with hikers and even carrying a bike through there is not a good idea.

    3 - How fast are you? Flat Laurel Creek is super fast and super fun. Ivestor Gap and Graveyard Ridge are very rocky and very slow and take a lot longer than you would think. I'd say three hours is a reasonable time estimate.
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  8. #8
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    Muchas gracias.

    I appreciate the info they're not seasonal -- I'd heard they were, and I have at least one 780 that shows Graveyard isn't legal for bikes at all, even the part that is. I love how reliable maps are when it comes to Pisgah :-) [And have noted the "seasonal" sign at the top of Big Creek.]

    Do you think the river has subsided on Ivestor since you were up there last week?

    I was planning on looping Flat Laurel and then hitting Ivestor > Graveyard Ridge as an out and back, but wasn't sure if they were connected in a bike-legal manner? The scale on the map makes it tough to tell: you're right on the Wilderness boundary, and I'm wondering whether you cross over to get from one to the other. Sounds like the bike-legal parts are connected, no hiking needed? (Not planning on hiking through carrying my bike.) And a big plus to doing this ride in March vs. July is the lack of other folks in the area.

  9. #9
    drunken pirate
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    Ivestor always has some water on it. Graveyard Ridge is usually very wet. But as long as it isn't actively raining you should be fine. Both trails connect and follow the boundary of the Wilderness and it is clearly marked. No hiking necessary. Also, Graveyard Ridge is not particularly a fun trail so remember you can turn around at any point. Make sure you study your map closely: you don't want to cross the wilderness boundary and you don't want to be on the Mtns. to Sea (which follows the actual Graveyard Ridge).

    Fun stuff up there
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  10. #10
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    Awesome, thanks. This one isn't about fun -- though every day is fun on a bike! -- this is all about the notch on the bedpost, the highlight on the map ... I just want to say I've been up there!

  11. #11
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    We had Sam Knob all to ourselves three weeks ago.


  12. #12
    drunken pirate
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    That is a great pic! Thanks for sharing it!
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  13. #13
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    Ivestor and Flat Laurel are both worth the trip- fun and unique. crossboy, for your fit and training self, I recommend taking Pilot Mountain road HIKING the Art Loeb, Parkway, Ivestor to the Gap, back, Flat Laurel, 215, Parkway HIKE the same section of Art Loeb, Farlow, Daniel. Killer ride.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Brown
    Ivestor and Flat Laurel are both worth the trip- fun and unique. crossboy, for your fit and training self, I recommend taking Pilot Mountain road HIKING the Art Loeb, Parkway, Ivestor to the Gap, back, Flat Laurel, 215, Parkway HIKE the same section of Art Loeb, Farlow, Daniel. Killer ride.
    Sure Mike, thanks. I see how you're just trying to kill me. Drain my soul. Destroy what little confidence I've been able to build over the winter. You've been talking to Wes, haven't you?

    Ha, ha. Seriously, I've heard of folks doing this loop, though with the slide work being done on 476/Davidson River Trail, and my aversion to driving all the way around through Brevard, I have a feeling I'll just be driving up to the Black Balsam parking area. That said, starting at the Hatchery could make this an absolutely epic day ...

  15. #15
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    So when you hike Art Loeb, you are allowed to push your bike on the trails?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Getalife
    So when you hike Art Loeb, you are allowed to push your bike on the trails?
    No, your wheels should not touch the ground per FS regulations. Of course that is easier said than done. I do many routes that use hiking only trails and yes, I push my bike, but I try and make it obvious that I am really pushing my bike. If with others we chat and what not and if I'm by myself I take off my helmet. I often see hikers while pushing my bike on the Art Loeb (just last weekend, for example) so please do not ride any hiking only trails, doing so only jeopardizes losing the 50+ other trails we can legally ride.

    To decrease the temptation to ride down Shuck Ridge on the Art Loeb, as it is very tempting to ride down it, (good luck riding up it) I would drop highway 215 on the bike and then climb back up Summey and Kissie Creek Rd. or Indian Creek Rd. instead of taking the Art Loeb down. Also to get around the 475 closure easier consider pushing up Case Camp or Seinard Ridge instead of the Art Loeb.
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  17. #17
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    Clay- I think, could be wrong, the "no wheels on the ground" is a Parkway/NPS rule, not a USFS rule. Cannot possess a bike in wilderness, cannot touch ground in Parkway, cannot ride hiking trails, ride the hundreds of miles of open trails.

    Anyway, I hesitated to post those ride directions because of the "Don't ride" point- I couldn't agree more. Anybody who knows me knows I am the ultimate anti-poacher- I will stand there in the middle of the woods and refuse to do it when suggested. Thanks for emphasizing the point about HIKE and I agree that the 215/Sumney route is a great one- it's also just much "bigger."

  18. #18
    drunken pirate
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Brown
    Clay- I think, could be wrong, the "no wheels on the ground" is a Parkway/NPS rule, not a USFS rule. Cannot possess a bike in wilderness, cannot touch ground in Parkway, cannot ride hiking trails, ride the hundreds of miles of open trails.

    Anyway, I hesitated to post those ride directions because of the "Don't ride" point- I couldn't agree more. Anybody who knows me knows I am the ultimate anti-poacher- I will stand there in the middle of the woods and refuse to do it when suggested. Thanks for emphasizing the point about HIKE and I agree that the 215/Sumney route is a great one- it's also just much "bigger."
    I was told at the Ranger Station no wheels on the ground. Not that it really matters. What matters is that you are actually hiking, not riding. I've caught riders on hiking only trails who jump off their bikes real fast when they see me coming on foot . Even when hiking with my bike I still feel awkward seeing hikers who may not understand what I am doing.

    Mike, I know that you are as anti-poach as I am, maybe even more so, and that you have the discipline to walk the 1000 vertical feet down Shuck Ridge. Thanks for keeping it real

    If I was riding up at Black Balsam this weekend this would be my route from the hatchery:

    475 > 475B > 225 > Seinard Ridge (mandatory hike!) > BRP > 816 > Ivestor Gap > Graveyard Ridge (out and back) > Ivestor Gap > Flat Laurel Creek > hwy 215 > Indian Creek Rd. > 475 > 471C > 471D > Butter Gap > Cat Gap > Beer!

    I'd be willing to lead this route next weekend if the weather is decent and if anyone is interested.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by driftwood
    475 > 475B > 225 > Seinard Ridge (mandatory hike!) > BRP > 816 > Ivestor Gap > Graveyard Ridge (out and back) > Ivestor Gap > Flat Laurel Creek > hwy 215 > Indian Creek Rd. > 475 > 471C > 471D > Butter Gap > Cat Gap > Beer!

    I'd be willing to lead this route next weekend if the weather is decent and if anyone is interested.
    I'm in. I won't even suggest any route changes.
    Yeah, it's strange. But oh well.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by driftwood
    475 > 475B > 225 > Seinard Ridge (mandatory hike!) > BRP > 816 > Ivestor Gap > Graveyard Ridge (out and back) > Ivestor Gap > Flat Laurel Creek > hwy 215 > Indian Creek Rd. > 475 > 471C > 471D > Butter Gap > Cat Gap > Beer!

    I'd be willing to lead this route next weekend if the weather is decent and if anyone is interested.
    Sounds good, but next weekend is the SORBA Summit. And Summey/Sumney? You can have it

    Clay, what would be your time estimate on this? You, not a group? I was figuring an hour to the BRP from the Hatchery, but that was via 276, and then you'd have 10 miles of pavement to 816. Sorry to keep asking, but I've been out of town, and want to spend some time with the family ... And depending on which map you look at, it looks like you can pick up Seinard either on 5045 or via 225D? Do you have some clarification on this?

  21. #21
    drunken pirate
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    Quote Originally Posted by crossboy
    Sounds good, but next weekend is the SORBA Summit. And Summey/Sumney? You can have it

    Clay, what would be your time estimate on this? You, not a group? I was figuring an hour to the BRP from the Hatchery, but that was via 276, and then you'd have 10 miles of pavement to 816. Sorry to keep asking, but I've been out of town, and want to spend some time with the family ... And depending on which map you look at, it looks like you can pick up Seinard either on 5045 or via 225D? Do you have some clarification on this?
    40 miles, 9k climbing, Zach and I could do that ride in 5-6 hours depending on how bad of a slog Graveyard Ridge is. Best way to do Seinard from the hatchery is 225D, it gets a little confusing and they are changing around the signs so take your map. The good thing about dropping hwy 215 is you can be back at the hatchery in an hour from leaving Flat Laurel Creek if you take Indian Creek to 475. Pushing Summey to Kiessee to Farlow at that point in the day takes balls or something like the Double Dare.

    crossboy, are you riding all the bike trails in pisgah?
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by driftwood
    Pushing Summey to Kiessee to Farlow at that point in the day takes balls or something like the Double Dare.

    crossboy, are you riding all the bike trails in pisgah?
    No kidding, but the suggestion for Sumney is out there on the interwebs. No thank you, once is enough.

    And the answer is yes. I moved here in December 09, just before the storms, so really only started riding Pisgah in early March 2010. It's been a year, and the only legal trails I have left are Flat Laurel and Ivestor/Graveyard. I figure I can retire after this weekend.

    (Now, "riding" is relative -- I still walk the bottom of Farlow and half of the Pilot rock garden, but it's kind of amazing how necessity seems to breed "skill" when you're going way too fast and you have no choice but to go into survival mode ...)

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by crossboy
    It's been a year, and the only legal trails I have left are Flat Laurel and Ivestor/Graveyard. I figure I can retire after this weekend.
    Sorry, minor clarification: Flat Laurel and Ivestor/Graveyard are the last trails in the Pisgah Ranger District. I've done a bit in Grandfather (including a silly ride up Heartbreak last year), but not that much. So there's still plenty of riding to be had ...

  24. #24
    drunken pirate
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    Have you hit Foster Creek yet?
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by driftwood
    Have you hit Foster Creek yet?
    As you know, one of the nice things about living in Hendo, besides having no traffic, is that you have easy access to *everything*, including the out-of-the-way, little trafficked stuff like Foster, Yellow Gap Trail, Bear Branch ...

    I've hiked but not been on a bike in Minc/Mince Cove, but haven't tried to go up 1206-C (I think it's C -- it's the first one on the right, at the flat switchback, on the right heading up toward Yellow Gap.) Worth it?

  26. #26
    drunken pirate
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    Quote Originally Posted by crossboy
    As you know, one of the nice things about living in Hendo, besides having no traffic, is that you have easy access to *everything*, including the out-of-the-way, little trafficked stuff like Foster, Yellow Gap Trail, Bear Branch ...

    I've hiked but not been on a bike in Minc/Mince Cove, but haven't tried to go up 1206-C (I think it's C -- it's the first one on the right, at the flat switchback, on the right heading up toward Yellow Gap.) Worth it?
    Good work on Foster Creek, lots of people over look that one. I did 1206C (or is it the 1206 spur? I know the 'road' you are referring to) in summer and it was very overgrown and very hard to follow on foot. I would not want to be pushing a bicycle through that. I think it connects to 5051 though. We should ride sometime...
    Last edited by driftwood; 03-18-2011 at 04:55 PM.
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  27. #27
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    I may try Ivestor/Graveyard Ridge tomorrow. I have not done either one yet and am interested if they are worth it. Specifically, will Graveyard be overgrown this time of year?
    Also, looking at Sumney Ridge. I assume the best way is to climb the road and then drop down Sumney. How about 140b?

  28. #28
    drunken pirate
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    Quote Originally Posted by Getalife View Post
    I may try Ivestor/Graveyard Ridge tomorrow. I have not done either one yet and am interested if they are worth it. Specifically, will Graveyard be overgrown this time of year?
    Also, looking at Sumney Ridge. I assume the best way is to climb the road and then drop down Sumney. How about 140b?
    Graveyard Ridge should not be overgrown. It sees a good amount of foot travel. I'd say Ivestor Gap and especially Flat Laurel Creek are definitely worth it. Graveyard Ridge is worth it if you are looking to ride all the bike trails in Pisgah, otherwise Ivestor Gap might be far enough (both are out and backs). Ride it and report back if it was worth it or not

    Summey Cove is a lot of fun. It is best ridden from North to South via the top of FR140 but either direction you have a stout hike a bike so the direction doesn't matter too much. 140B is a wildlife corridor if I recall correctly which means no bikes allowed.
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  29. #29
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    Thanks for the help. I wouldn't mind "bagging" Graveyard Ridge but not if it is miserable. I may try part of it and see how it goes. I have not heard many who have knowledge of this trail which may be telling.

  30. #30
    drunken pirate
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    It is not miserable. It is just another slow mile or two and is an out and back so it is easy to just call Ivestor Gap good enough. It is rather wet and rocky but is a unique trail so you should do it. I mean if you are already up there why not?
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  31. #31
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    I actually just did a great backpacking trip in that exact area last month. Avoid graveyard fields. The trail is totally eroded and full of tourists. Camping on Black Balsam Knob is a must! You set up camp above the clouds, but be prepared for wind to get pretty violent at night. It truly is an epic site up there. Looks more like New England mountains in that area.

    A good route:
    Art Loeb to Ivestor Gap (camp) > Art Loeb to Shining Rock > Ivestor Gap Trail all the way back to the car. Look it up in a book called "Backpacking NC" Worth the $12.

  32. #32
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    Are the Wildlife opening current?
    The signs, on a handful, that remain taped say...
    "The Pisgah Ranger District Linear Wildlife Opening were current from 2003- and expiring in September of 2009."
    So, they are now expired?
    Nick has a picture he can post.... Would love to use a handful to connect some singletrack!

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by salmansp View Post
    Are the Wildlife opening current?
    The signs, on a handful, that remain taped say...
    "The Pisgah Ranger District Linear Wildlife Opening were current from 2003- and expiring in September of 2009."
    So, they are now expired?
    Nick has a picture he can post.... Would love to use a handful to connect some singletrack!
    They have been replacing the old signs with new dates (that I don't recall). I'm sure some of the old signs are still up and if the sign says it is expired then I'd say you can ride a bike on it...

    Quote Originally Posted by De La Rosa
    I actually just did a great backpacking trip in that exact area last month. Avoid graveyard fields. The trail is totally eroded and full of tourists. Camping on Black Balsam Knob is a must! You set up camp above the clouds, but be prepared for wind to get pretty violent at night. It truly is an epic site up there. Looks more like New England mountains in that area.

    A good route:
    Art Loeb to Ivestor Gap (camp) > Art Loeb to Shining Rock > Ivestor Gap Trail all the way back to the car. Look it up in a book called "Backpacking NC" Worth the $12.
    I believe Getalife is interested in biking Ivestor Gap and Graveyard Fields, not hiking. The section of Graveyard Fields trail through Graveyard Fields is indeed very eroded and crowded but it is also not a biking trail. The section of Graveyard Fields that you can ride a bike on from Ivestor Gap to the intersection with the Mountains to Sea does not see anywhere near the traffic that the other half of the trail does and has a different character as well. It is very wet and rocky, like Ivestor, and has a unique feeling.

    The route you posted is a very good hiking route.
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by salmansp View Post
    Are the Wildlife opening current?
    The signs, on a handful, that remain taped say...
    "The Pisgah Ranger District Linear Wildlife Opening were current from 2003- and expiring in September of 2009."
    So, they are now expired?
    Nick has a picture he can post.... Would love to use a handful to connect some singletrack!
    The pic is a bit large so you can read it, I've only found this note on one LWO although it says it pertains to many.

    many gears, some pies

  35. #35
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    Ask TrailZen about the LWO fight next time you see him...if you want to see a dude get really angry and quiet. Long story short, when BRBC was also a MTB club, Trail Zen and a few others tried like crazy to prevent the closure of so many miles of (admittedly mostly lightly used) corridor to MTB's and lost. There's a lot more detail behind that story...but it's history and not worth re-living.
    Mike

  36. #36
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    Thanks Driftwood for the info on today's ride. We parked at 215 at the bottom of Flat Laurel Creek and used the BRP to complete a loop. We did the out and back on Ivestor and out and back on approx 1mile of Graveyard Ridge. We turned around when we were satisfied we would not see anything new. We ended up with 18 miles and another great day in Pisgah.

  37. #37
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    Those signs used to be on a lot of the Wildlife Rd. gates. They have since been replaced with metal permanent ones. I'm sure there are still a few of them around but most of those roads are now clearly signed no bikes.... Most of them dead end but there are a few that would make good loops on bikes such as 140B....
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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by driftwood View Post
    Those signs used to be on a lot of the Wildlife Rd. gates. They have since been replaced with metal permanent ones. I'm sure there are still a few of them around but most of those roads are now clearly signed no bikes.... Most of them dead end but there are a few that would make good loops on bikes such as 140B....
    The thing is, that sign appeared shortly AFTER May 6, 2009 and has never been taken down. It is on the same post as the 5361 FR sign. I took the picture on July 18, 2009.
    many gears, some pies

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