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  1. #1
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    Pisgah Camp and Ride

    Moving from San Diego to the Winston Salem area in a month and looking for recommendations on camp sites in the Pisgah Mountains that have trail access.
    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    There's not really any "Pisgah Mountains" per se. There's ONE Mt. Pisgah that's right off the Blue Ridge Parkway (I see it from my house), but it only has a short hiking trail on it. The rest of the forest sorta takes its name from that.

    What's your camp setup? Tent camping? Trailer? Motorhome? Van?

    Your options vary somewhat depending on what you've got. On the Pisgah District, there's a few National Forest campgrounds you can ride out of. Lake Powhatan, Mills River, Davidson River. A bunch of free first-come first-served roadside sites (most are pretty tight and either fit a tent or van at most, but a couple can fit larger vehicles) scattered across the forest. There's some private places you can hit the trails from. The Bike Farm has access to Turkeypen. Pilot Cove (not sure what camping they offer, if any) is accessible to the ranger station area. Just about anywhere in Brevard proper is accessible to trails if you're willing to ride a bit of pavement first.

    Closer to Winston Salem, on the other side of Asheville, will be the Grandfather District. I don't know that area well, but others here will be able to say more about camping/riding in that part of the forest.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the response Harold... Apologies for the term "Pisgah Mtns". I'm moving to Winston-Salem from San Diego in a month and still learning the geo-terminology.
    The whole Cherokee, Pisgah, Nantahala, Chattahoochee area is what I meant to say.
    As far as camping setup - A lifted 4dr Rubicon with RTT/Expedition is what I have. Pretty self sustainable for off grid and primitive camping. Awesome setup however, once it's set up, there's no driving to trail heads.
    My goal is to find places to setup camp for a weekend and ride some great trail from camp with no driving.
    I don't mind a little road time to get to the trailhead either.

  4. #4
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    Ah, okay. You've got the whole southern appalachians on your radar.

    Add the Mulberry Gap area of Georgia. You can camp at Mulberry Gap proper, but there is also other camping in the area (cheaper, more rustic).

    With your setup, Windrock in TN should be on your list.

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Ah, okay. You've got the whole southern appalachians on your radar.

    Add the Mulberry Gap area of Georgia. You can camp at Mulberry Gap proper, but there is also other camping in the area (cheaper, more rustic).

    With your setup, Windrock in TN should be on your list.

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    That is a really wide area. Can you park in a central location and ride to a bunch of trails from one point?
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  6. #6
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    There are plenty of campsites in Pisgah that are free and have riding accessible nearby, but you'll be limited to a handful of trails in the area surrounding them without driving. I'm also not sure how many of them would be accessible to a vehicle, most have narrow access paths or are behind trees/rocks or up/down steep access paths. I think I've seen a few off Avery Creek Rd where people were able to pull their cars into, but not a lot, maybe a few in N Mills River off Wash Creek Rd too.

    The commercial campgrounds may be a better bet, either Davidson River or N Mills River, although the former is closer to more riding and town, N Mills is kindof back there. They have a bit more flat space that is accessible to cars and would be easier for you to guarantee you have something that you can drive into and camp out of your car.

    If you camp at N Mills River, you'll have Spencer/Fletcher, Trace Ridge, Bear Branch, and (arguably) Pilot Rock loops available to you. It's real remote compared to the other areas, because you drive about 15-20min down a road from a main highway to get there.

    If you park near the horse stables (off Avery Creek Rd, Davidson River campground, etc) then you'll have full Black Mountain, Avery Creek trail, Bennett Gap, Buckhorn, and Sycamore within easy riding distance. More distance and variety here than other areas IMO, you'll also be riding distance out to The Hub (bike parts, beer), grocery stores, and a few places to eat.

    If you manage to find something up by the fish hatchery, you'll have Cove Creek, Daniel's Ridge, Butter Gap, and Farlow Gap. IIRC most of the campsites up in that area would be more challenging or impossible for vehicles to access, but there may be some sites way up Cove Creek Rd or by Butter Gap.

    Just please don't be one of those people that parks sideways through 4 parking spaces to camp in a parking lot. I see it all the time in Mills River and it's really annoying.

    I'll also disagree somewhat with Harold, if you are in Winston, then driving all the way to Mulberry Gap in N GA isn't really worth it. The trails here in WNC are better and more varied IMO and much more accessible, both in terms of having several trails in one area that you can ride, accessibility to town, and not having to ride really far out of the way to get singletrack. I think there are better riding options around WNC than there are there.

    My suggestion in Brevard would be to pay for a day or two at Davidson River campground, before you leave drive to a few of the areas I mention above and see if there are any that suite your needs for next time and make a note of them. That way you have some options the next time, I just think you are more limited camping on your car than you otherwise would be, but there are some options at each of the areas I mention above where you could camp on your car.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adodero View Post
    I'll also disagree somewhat with Harold, if you are in Winston, then driving all the way to Mulberry Gap in N GA isn't really worth it. The trails here in WNC are better and more varied IMO and much more accessible, both in terms of having several trails in one area that you can ride, accessibility to town, and not having to ride really far out of the way to get singletrack. I think there are better riding options around WNC than there are there.
    The reason I brought it up was because it was within his stated area. He also did not offer any drive time guidelines.
    The whole Cherokee, Pisgah, Nantahala, Chattahoochee area..
    Yes, it would be a hike from Winston-Salem.

    There are a number of trail systems in N. GA where you could base a weekend out of, but I don't know the others very well. I've been to Mulberry Gap a couple of times and have enjoyed a number of the trails nearby. Shuttles are more accessible there than here, IMO, even though most of the trails aren't exactly as "worthy" of a shuttle as some of what we have here. IMO, the trails in this area are mostly more lightly traveled and retain a bit more of a backcountry feel, with the exception of a few of the more remote Pisgah trails. The more popular Pisgah trails get used hard, and it shows.

    Tsali is a place where you can camp and ride from your campsite. Also farther from Winston-Salem than other options. It doesn't have the big terrain like you find closer to Brevard and Asheville (lots of enduro-leaning WNC locals poo-poo on Tsali, but I like it for what it is), but it's nice xc trail and it's close to a lake, so there are opportunities to put boats in the water, or dip into the water to cool off or whatever. Mileage open per day won't really give you the opportunity to do any huge epics unless you like riding loops more than once. Esp worthwhile to come here if you want to bike AND do some whitewater rafting.

    Drive time is why I brought up the Grandfather District, though. Parts of it should be an hour or more closer to Winston-Salem than the Brevard area. Definitely more accessible if time is more of a limitation.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    There are a number of trail systems in N. GA where you could base a weekend out of, but I don't know the others very well. I've been to Mulberry Gap a couple of times and have enjoyed a number of the trails nearby. Shuttles are more accessible there than here, IMO, even though most of the trails aren't exactly as "worthy" of a shuttle as some of what we have here. IMO, the trails in this area are mostly more lightly traveled and retain a bit more of a backcountry feel, with the exception of a few of the more remote Pisgah trails. The more popular Pisgah trails get used hard, and it shows.
    Yea, for sure, they are more worthwhile and accessible shuttles, a service Mulberry Gap offers, but they are more one time shuttles (similar to what we have here), not laps you'd do. It's also a great area for bikepacking because you have more linear routes that are great to ride point to point. They are definitely more out there, as well, and more back country with longer distances.

    The challenge becomes without someone picking you up (and no cell signal), you end up riding a lot of really steep, kindof boring gravel, especially if you are limited to car camping. If you are staying in one place and at one base location, you end up having fewer riding options that are worth the effort IMO. There are some fun trails there for sure and they are definitely less ridden and eroded than what we have here, but I wouldn't venture there without exploring this area more unless I was bikepacking.

    IMO this area is more accessible for visitors because you have a lot more looped routes you can take and are closer to civilization, along with more variety and accessibility from a single point.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adodero View Post
    IMO this area is more accessible for visitors because you have a lot more looped routes you can take and are closer to civilization, along with more variety and accessibility from a single point.
    This is true. Though I'm not sure the gravel climbs there are appreciably different from the ones we have here. Maybe because there are more options here condensed into a smaller area, there are more possibilities for shorter gravel climbs so it's not mandatory to do the biggest ones. But I've ridden there for a weekend (after driving 8hrs from Indiana, btw) after parking the car for the whole time I was there. So it's doable.

    I suppose I'm a whole lot less picky than some.

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