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Thread: Pisgah Plan

  1. #1
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    Pisgah Plan

    I'm planning on heading over to Asheville Thursday after work to ride all day in Pisgah on Friday and then again on Saturday morning for a few hours. I went through the sticky at the top of the forum and think I picked out one of the routes. It was called Squirrel Gap/Turkey Pen. I will swing by the Hub to pick up a map and get some more advice. Seems some locals have recommended another shop that I may visit instead, seemed to come recommended over the Hub.

    Any locals going to be riding Friday that wouldn't mind showing me around? I went through the Pisgah SORBA site, but doesn't seem like there is a good place to post up a question like this.

    I am looking for intermediate to higher level trails and looking to spend hours of riding. I expect a lot of climbing and some really good technical.

    Jason

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    I would recommend Sycamore over the Hub. Personal preference, but I've had much better experiences at Sycamore Cycles. Fats/Bikestreet is even better if you're by Bent Creek. I would love to ride, but can't miss work!

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    Quote Originally Posted by diiulio View Post
    I went through the sticky at the top of the forum and think I picked out one of the routes. It was called Squirrel Gap/Turkey Pen.
    Is this the ride you plan?
    Pisgah Area SORBA » Blog Archive » Squirrel Gap / Turkey Pen (Advanced-Epic)

    I have done that route a few times and it is a good day of riding but don't let the distance fool you. It is a tough ride and involves a decent amount of hiking too. Also it is a couple more than 19.3 miles according to my GPS. Black Mountain when you are not expecting it, is relentless on the climbs and you will spend more time carrying the bike up than riding it up. The views however are fantastic. Then when you are done, you get some decently fast and fairly technical downhill. Afterwards, you get to repeat the relentless climbing on Turkey Pen.

    The Hub opens at 10 am. From there you have about 7 hours of daylight in the woods. The ride is a 4-6 hour ride depending on your ability. Add not knowing the trails and a few of our Pisgah Gnomes to challenge your day and lets just say I wouldn't go out there without lights if I were you. I would actually suggest not stopping anywhere in the morning before you ride if you want to do that particular one. Instead hit the trail earlier. Then go to The Hub afterwards for a beer and to make up some stories about your day.

    You are coming at a good time though. The leaves are down so the views are open.
    Also from my ride this weekend it seems they are finally getting ground down. In addition our seasonal trails are open which gives a few more options.

    Also, keep in mind this ride is a commitment. If you are not familiar with the terrain and the difficulty of it, you may want to pic something a little shorter where you can always add another loop.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

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    That was the loop I was looking at. Is the loop pretty obvious when you are riding it or are there a bit off chutes to throw you off?
    Do you recommend a different loop? I am looking for some good technical riding and nice descents. I'd like to ride in the 4-5 hr. time frame. My loops are typically in the 13 mile range and take about 2 hours due to time restrictions, not because of actual riding.

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    No ones first pisgah ride should involve turkey pen.
    .... Well no ride in Pisgah period should but def not the first.
    Not if you ever want to come back. He's right bring a light

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    Where do you ride normally?

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    Im meeting another Pisgah virgin Friday for a Black Mtn./Buckwheat/Bennet loop. Probably go up and Ride Black/Maxwell/Lower Black too after that.

    That loop has a good amount of descending.

    Your welcome to join. It might be a slower pace than your into though.

    And agreed.... no one should ever ride Turkey Pen. ever. haha
    On your left!

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    I have ridden quite a few places, but for me 'normally right now' is Fountainhead in VA. It is a flowy trail with a few drops, some table tops mixed in, and man made rock garden sections. I can rip through the 13 miles in under 2 hours. I prefer natural heavy rock sections, but I'll take it for now since it is close. I have ridden some other spots in the VA/MD area like Frederick Watershed, but Fountainhead is close and fun. Ridden Kingdom trails a couple of times when I was up north, rode Daniels Rd. a lot when I lived in Saratoga Springs, NY and I rode Mt Tam area trails (tamarancho/Pine Mt/Tam/China Camp) when I lived in SF. Rode Blue Mtn in NY a couple of months back that was great. Rode Sprague, Ellicottville, Hunters, etc. when I lived in Buffalo.

    I have been riding a while, I am not a racer, not crazy fast, but I am a solid rider and can ride technical trails.

    I have a light with me, but willing to hear a decent loop if you have a suggestion.

  9. #9
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    Banjopicken,
    I might take you up on that offer. PM me or I'll PM you later tonight when I have some time.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by diiulio View Post
    That was the loop I was looking at. Is the loop pretty obvious when you are riding it or are there a bit off chutes to throw you off?
    Do you recommend a different loop? I am looking for some good technical riding and nice descents. I'd like to ride in the 4-5 hr. time frame. My loops are typically in the 13 mile range and take about 2 hours due to time restrictions, not because of actual riding.
    I agree with Supercrusty.
    You really should not do this loop on your first visit.
    It is a suffer fest and really just a bad idea for a first visit. I was really trying to nicely clue you in to that.

    This is more of a "I have ridden Pisgah and no want to torture myself" ride.
    If you are used to doing 13 mile range, this is definitely not for you.
    Pisgah miles are like dog years so definitely don't aim to do more miles here than you are used to anywhere else.

    12 mile loop that isn't going to kill you on the climbs but has some of the more (not most) technical stuff the area has to offer.

    Park at the stables: Clawhammer>Black Mtn (up the steps)>Buckwheat>Bennett Gap. This is definitely advanced terrain but is roughly 12 miles. I only suggest it since you are asking for advanced trails and I see you have been riding a while.
    It will still involve some walking both up and down even for advanced riders.

    Rode this Sunday and the trails are nice and the leaves are ground down for the most part.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  11. #11
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    I just read Banjo's post.

    Do that....which is obvious from my post. lol
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  12. #12
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    Squirkey is one of my favorite loops ever, but it is not a good first-time out-of-towner ride. I'd say more like 6-7 hours unless you're an experienced endurance race-type rider.

    Banjo's ride is a great one, but you should know you'll be pushing your bike a lot on Black. Way worth it. Sometimes called the Big Nasty, that loop doesn't quit.

    If you're looking for a slightly easier but still massively fun intro, I'd do Daniel Ridge trail counter-clockwise. Then, if you want more from there, head up the gravel road and either down Long-Branch-Cat or over to 471D/ Butter/Cat. Park either at the Fish Hatchery and use Davidson River trail to get to Daniel or Park at Daniel and ride Davidson River at the end (if you go for the extra).

    FYI: Butter and Cat have fresh trail work. It was not made easier. There's a choke point on Cat now that will surprise you and slow you down.

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    Just echoing what pretty much everyone else has said. If you go do that whole Turkey Pen route on your first trip, it might just permanently ruin your image of Pisgah as a whole and that would be a shame because it really is an awesome place. Go ride with Banjo if you guys can work out a plan. He is a great guy and a great ride leader…and you might even get a pop tart.

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    To offer you a point of comparison: I'm a former pisgah local, now living in Frederick, MD. Pisgah is like Frederick with twice as much vertical elevation change per mile. Pisgah is generally less rocky than up here, but pretty comparable in "technical difficulty". You'll average about the same speed, maybe a touch faster in Pisgah because you'll be using at least some gravel on most rides.

    If you've ridden catoctin trail north out of Gambrill or south from Hamburg rd to the bottom, thats the closest thing I can compare to what you're going to find in Pisgah. I don't think anyone is taking a jab at your abilities, more just suggesting that Turkeypen gap trail kind of sucks and tends to be a huge time warp. I'd ride squirrel out and back before I'd do that loop. The butter/daniel loop suggested is good, buckwheat/bennett is good, Laurel Mountain/Pilot rock would be another possibility.

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    Lots of good advice here. I would heed it. Turkey sucks balls except as a checkmark.

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    Quote Originally Posted by catsruletn View Post
    Just echoing what pretty much everyone else has said. If you go do that whole Turkey Pen route on your first trip, it might just permanently ruin your image of Pisgah as a whole and that would be a shame because it really is an awesome place. Go ride with Banjo if you guys can work out a plan. He is a great guy and a great ride leader…and you might even get a pop tart.
    Pop tarts aren't guaranteed.
    On your left!

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    I did that ride on the last day of my first visit there a few years ago. I missed a few turns along the way, so I had to backtrack a couple of times. I ended up with about 25 miles, and it was a tough day indeed. It was in July, so no danger of darkness, but this time of year you could get in trouble real easy. Turkey must be less traveled, because it was hard to find the trail at times. With the leaves down now, it would be even harder, so your ride could turn into a long, not-so-fun day.

    I remember talking to a couple guys I met at the trail intersection at the start of Black. As I checked my map, I said, "so this is the way to Black Mountain, right?" They said, "yes, but we NEVER go that way". As I started the climb of rooty step-ups with multiple switchbacks I could hear them snicker. The view from the top of Black is fantastic though, and it's quite an accomplishment to have done it.

    My advice as a veteran, is to do one of the other rides as suggested this time, and come back again for this one when the days are longer and warmer.
    'Bones

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    Quote Originally Posted by Banjopickin View Post
    Im meeting another Pisgah virgin Friday for a Black Mtn./Buckwheat/Bennet loop. Probably go up and Ride Black/Maxwell/Lower Black too after that.

    That loop has a good amount of descending.

    Your welcome to join. It might be a slower pace than your into though.

    And agreed.... no one should ever ride Turkey Pen. ever. haha
    Banjo is offering this ride up... and as a guide! DO IT!

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    No worries, I wasn't offended by asking background. It is a valid question and will provide me with more of a proper suggestion for a trail I'd enjoy.
    I wasn't set on the loop I referred to, that is why I asked. I have no intentions of hitting it now, thank you for the feedback.

    I do plan on riding with Banjo on Friday. Anybody riding on Saturday that doesn't mind a tag along if I am not totally spent from Friday?

    Thank you everyone for the input. Black sounds like a nice loop. Turkey is off the list.

    I'll try to put some feedback on here after the ride to help future Pisgah virgins.

  20. #20
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    I used to do that very loop solo every yr. Mostly in prep for the upcoming Snake Creek Gap TT race series, that starts in Jan. Its THE toughest 20 mile loop I know of. So I figured it was GTG for training for such a tough race. Better views in late Fall/winter too. But the leaves diff add another layer of difficulty as well.

    I'd always come in from the NW corner, at I think trail 133(S Mills upper end toward the Pink Beds? I'm going on memory) cross S Mills river and climb up to Buckhorn gap and picking up Black for there. That adds a few more miles. It bascially takes up the entire day, if one doesn't want to kill themselves with the pace. LOTS of hike-a-bike on Black, Clawhammer, and Turkey Pen.

    Going up Clawhammer.


    Top of Clawhammer from same trip. This looks like late winter/early Spring tho.


    Another trip a yr later, in late Fall. More leaves..


    Black. again, these pics are from diff rides doing this loop.


    Turkey Pen in the next 2 pics. I've done this section 6-7 times, and I've never seen a soul while doing so. Your diff alone, so don't get hurt.

    Yes thats the trail with the log lyaing over it, and typical of TP this time of yr. I'd just came down that ridge.


    Squirrel Gap.


    Last edited by Duckman; 12-10-2014 at 12:41 PM.
    "I've breathed the mtn air, man" Johnny Cash

    It's a long way to the top
    . . . if you wanna rock and roll (ac/dc)

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    Figured I'd post a recap from today...

    Claw, Black left, Buckwheat, Bennet. Gnar

    Up Thrift, down new Lower Black.

    Fun day out in the Pizgard.

    Jason crushed it and is apparantley no stranger to chunky descending... Very cool

    Thanks for letting me show you around man.


    sorry for the iPhone vid quality.


    Holler at us next time your in North Cackalack.
    On your left!

  22. #22
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    So Just like Beatty?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by supercusty View Post
    So Just like Beatty?
    exactly like Beatty...

    but with less roots.

    and dog walkers.
    On your left!

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    Just for a ride follow up I rode with Banjopickin, he is a first class guy and gave a great tour of the area. By the way, no one is joking when they say the first five miles is all climbing. Pisgah is great riding. We rode 17 miles and i didn't even scratch the surface of trails out there.

    Thanks again for letting me tag along. Next time I will bring my climbing legs.

  25. #25
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    Hey jas, how'd the TBLT fair up there?
    I'd hit it, but I bruise like a peach.

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    The Tallboy LT was great there. I dialed back the HSC on the DB Inline a quarter turn and that little bit made the shock that much better on the downhill sections. That place rips. I was using a 2.4 Ardent up front and a 2.25 Ardent out back. I was running a little high on pressure, but I needed all the help I could get on the climbing sections so I ran around 29-30psi front and back, both tubeless. The Ardents seem to be a good pick there also. I have a Revelation 140mm up front, which was fine, but I wouldn't mind having a 140mm Pike. Probably just more hype and mental than actual need. I'd actually like to try the TBLT at 150mm to see how it fairs. I had a 60mm stem at first on the bike when I first got it and then went with a 50mm about a month ago, I like the shorter stem plus I have really wide bars that I need to trim a little bit. Couple of guys were rockin 1x, but my sorry legs needed a granny gear. If I was stronger I would go 1x, but I am not so I have no intention of dropping my little helper.

    To sum it up, bike kicked ass, I need better legs.

  27. #27
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    Yeah, way too much pressure IMO for tubeless.
    Studies have shown that lower pressure will actually give you less resistance on the climbs too because it helps to absorb and roll over stuff.

    I run between 20 and 25 lbs with an Ardent 2.4 up front and an Ikon 2.2 in the rear.
    (Been running 20 in the front and 22 in the rear.)
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  28. #28
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    Yes, I am typically in the 24-25psi range. 20psi is too loose on my rims for my taste. I was looking for 'speed' on the 5 mile of climb, that was the reason.

  29. #29
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    This thread is hilarious.... Sorry I didn't see it until now but it's a good thing the locals straightened you out. Big thanks to them! If I would have seen it a week ago, I'd have given my take.

    I'm from SC, usually ride croft and paris mountain. I've been to Dupont twice and Bent Creek once.

    This was the route I did in mid-november, straight off the pisgah area SORBA page.

    Route:
    exit parking area on to 66 Jumps Trail
    Cross the swinging bridge and go Left on to South Mills River Trail
    Right on Mullinax Trail
    Left on Squirrel Gap Trail
    Cross the swinging bridge and turn right on South Mills River Trail
    Left on Buckhorn Gap Trail
    Left on Black Mountain Trail
    Left on Turkey Pen Gap Trail
    Return to the parking area

    I was 4 months post op on my first ACL surgery and 2 weeks before my scheduled other side ACL surgery. I wanted one last burner before I went in.

    I got it.

    I started by the road because I drive a wimpy car that would have had issues climbing the rutted lane to the parking lot, so tack on whatever that distance was. I left the tiny roadside area there at almost exactly 11:00. I started the route pretty casually and as you might guess by where this story is going, I was pushing pretty hard by the end, fearing that darkness would throw a real wrench into plans. I had plenty of food and water, but no lights. By the time I hit squirrel gap I had caught up to some random guy on a full squishy Specialized. I road with him for a ways, got pretty jealous of that fancy rear shock on some of the chunky stuff. Second guessed my choice of steel hard tail plenty of times. He didn't have a pump with him so I helped him fix a dangerously low rear tubeless setup twice. 30 minutes lost that would later come into serious play. We got to Buckhorn and he split off to head back to the parking lot. I told him where I was going. He wished me luck and we parted ways. In the next painful couple hours I learned very well how to hike-a-bike. The biggest thing I didn't account for was the very large layer of freshly fallen leaves. There were times that my wheels were 4-5 inches deep in a layer of very slick, energy robbing leaves. I hit the deck a few times just due to pushing it too hard and getting caught by something under cover like a loose rock or log or something. Unfortunately, there were a lot of areas that I normally would have climbed (albeit, very slowly) that were just plain impossible with the leaf situation as bad as it was.

    I rolled off of Turkey Pen and hit the gravel road back to my car right at 5:00. I had about another 30-45 minutes of usable daylight left but there was a time while I was hiking up and up and up that I thought I might be in trouble.

    I had actually debated making a thread of my own simply to ask if I had ridden the dumbest part of pisgah at the dumbest part of the year, but I didn't want to be told that I was a wimp and that it was an easy route. Now I feel somewhat justified lol....

    I'll be back. Just with a little more daylight.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by a a r o n View Post
    ...synopsis of turkeypain gap loop...

    I'll be back. Just with a little more daylight.
    Most people's description of that ride is very similar. Any loop with squirrel gap in it tends to be pretty tough. Turkeypen, S. Mills, Bradley creek....none of these are great options. I actually really enjoy doing Squirrel Gap to the river and back. It's about 20 miles and it's 90% quality trail. I've started to love out and backs because it really is a different experience in each direction, especially on a rolling trail like that.

    As far as sufferfests go, I think a better use of time at turkeypen is to do Vineyard gap>riverside>Bradley>5015>Laurel mtn>Pilot Rock>Horse Cove>Squirrel Gap. That's a pretty hefty ride without touching turkeypen gap trail.

  31. #31
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    Pisgah Plan

    Quote Originally Posted by -Mueller- View Post
    Most people's description of that ride is very similar. Any loop with squirrel gap in it tends to be pretty tough. Turkeypen, S. Mills, Bradley creek....none of these are great options. I actually really enjoy doing Squirrel Gap to the river and back. It's about 20 miles and it's 90% quality trail. I've started to love out and backs because it really is a different experience in each direction, especially on a rolling trail like that.

    As far as sufferfests go, I think a better use of time at turkeypen is to do Vineyard gap>riverside>Bradley>5015>Laurel mtn>Pilot Rock>Horse Cove>Squirrel Gap. That's a pretty hefty ride without touching turkeypen gap trail.
    Beware many wet crossings with that last route.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by swoodbrn View Post
    Beware many wet crossings with that last route.
    Yeah. Not to be attempted in winter without knowing what your getting into.

    I like the mullinax -> squirrell -> Buckhorn -> 1206 -> Laurel/Pilot and then back via Horse Cove loop. Thats a solid day and plenty of fun descending and views. Plus not too many creek crossings.

    I think Turkey Pen is a good right of passage for Pisgah. Everyone knows its there and that it sucks, but you kinda have to ride it just because its there... and it sucks.
    On your left!

  33. #33
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    lol
    "I've breathed the mtn air, man" Johnny Cash

    It's a long way to the top
    . . . if you wanna rock and roll (ac/dc)

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