Planning a trip to western NC- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Planning a trip to western NC

    Hey everyone,

    This summer, my friend and I are looking at planning a trip to spend 5 days or so in the Asheville, Pisgah area for some biking and camping. There seems to be a ton of info out there, and its a bit overwhelming, so I am hoping some of you who are familiar with the area may be able to help out. I have never even been to the state of NC.

    I have been biking for years, but never made it out of IL, WI or MI (except some trails in southern CA once). Exactly how difficult are these trails? Is there anyone who can compare it to midwest riding for me? I'm assuming there will be a lot more climbing and descents, but what else? Is it very easy to get lost?

    What time of the summer is the best to go? We are looking at mid august, but will that be unbearably hot? Are there bears? How are the bugs? Where should we camp? Is there anything else that a midwesterner should consider that wouldn't normally be thought of?

    Thanks for the help, and excuse my lack of knowledge.

  2. #2
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    First off I think its a felony to have been "biking for years" and never ridden down here.Second its all climbing with small spurts of rocky-rooty downhills.

    Mid-August is fine it will not be too hot.
    There are bears but I doubt you'll see one.
    Bugs aren't too bad either.
    Camping??? Many-many places you could pay and free stuff but to many to list plus I've never camped here locally.
    Buy a map!

  3. #3
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    Buy Trails Illustrated #780
    This can go in many different directions...are you looking for an all day EPIC or 3-4 hours in the woods? Oh, and do you like climbing and walking next to your bike?
    "And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
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  4. #4
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    On camping: Davidson River Campground is pretty good..on the Davidson river.

  5. #5
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    Thanks guys. I know, motobutane... I can't believe I haven't been down there either. Its hard because I also ski... and with limited vacation (thanks to the man) I've always taken my long vacation to ski, leaving me with little time in the summer. Well that changed this year.

    Anyway, I would like to try an epic. But I'm sure there will be days where I would like a shorter ride. What do you mean by "do you like climbing and walking next to your bike. Are the climbs that steep?

  6. #6
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    Yes pisgah is very steep. Hike a bike is normal. Sometimes I even hike downhill.

    Bent Creek & DuPont have trails that don't require hiking.

    Scott Kerr Reservoir is also a great place to ride. Dark Mtn, OVT, Warrior Creek

  7. #7
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    I just did the trip you are describing this week and have done it once a year for the past 6 years or so.
    Camping: I have camped at Davidson river (Pisgah) and Lake Powhatan (Bent Creek) and both are nice campgrounds.

    Pisgah is very steep so plan on some hike-a-bike and serious climbs; In general Pisgah is an epic place to ride.

    Dupont, is better place for effort/reward; there is still plenty of climbing but it is not as steep as Pisgah. Dupont's trails are more designed and maintained for MTBs than Pisgah. Dupont also has several waterfalls which are gorgeous and well worth the effort to see.

    Bent Creek: I am not as familiar with Bent Creek as the others but have ridden it a couple of time and have had fun...trails are more like Dupont than Pisgah.

    Hope this helps. Collin

  8. #8
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    5 days:

    Caney bottom/Daniels Ridge/Long Branch: Nice intro to Pisgah. Some hike-a-bike.

    Laurel Mountain/Pilot Rock: Classic low grade climb, epic xc technical descent. I cleaned it on my cross bike.

    Dupont: Epic riding, slickrock, groomed trails. Find a guide. Really.

    Kitsuma: The best 4 mile trail anywhere I think. Full value from lung busting climbing to ball busting descents and everything else in-between.

    Old Toll Rd/Heartbreak Ridge: Both the climb and the descent are religious experiences in their own way.

    Heat: August can be miserably humid. Start riding early for best temps and to avoid afternoon thunderstorms.

    Camping: Davidson River is pretty centralized, and has showers. There's abundant roadside sites but most of them are lived in by locals during the summer.

    Bugs: Yup. Bring the Off.

    Bears: Seen four in 8 years. If they don't have cubs, you're good. If they have cubs, it could be trouble. Never heard of a cyclist having trouble though.

    Getting lost: With a little trail sense you should be OK, except maybe in Dupont.

    Other stuff: We're a temperate rain forest, and when the weather machine is working, there's almost daily storms in the afternoon. Ride early. We also get some hurricane weather, and this season is supposed to be especially active. Those bring days of unrelenting rain.

    A water filter is helpful.

    If you like beer, you must check out Asheville. The Wedge and Pisgah Brewing Co. are highly recommended.

    Get Nat. Geo's Trails Illustrated maps 779 and 780.
    Last edited by jamatt; 06-19-2010 at 06:04 PM.

  9. #9
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    The trails here aren't all that difficult, with a couple of exceptions, but compared to the midwest, there's just a whole lot more elevation. I haven't ridden north of central Indiana, but I doubt you guys have much more than their 200' of elevation. Yes, I know how steep those 200' can be. If you have some base fitness and you're patient, you'll do fine here. The longest climb you'll find will be an hour. You will have to get off and push a couple of times, we all do. GET ADVICE on every ride you want to do. There's a good direction and a crappy one.

    Because of the altitude (2,200+), the weather will probably be similar to what you're used to mid-summer. If you're quiet as a church mouse, Davidson river campground is a good bet. Not sure where the rowdies go, but the roadside sites stay pretty full all summer. We've just been self-named Beer-City, again, so don't forget to come up, get wasted, stuff yourself with 12 Bones BBQ, and hit the Orange Peel for some music.

    Oh, and it's your vacation, so be sure to fantasize about living here and to fall in love with a Huddle House waitress.

  10. #10
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    Getting advice on ride directions is a good idea. I see that alot of visitors complain about hike-a-bikes and it appears they took the wrong direction on a trail.Then they say "Pisgah" is too hard and think Dupont or bentcreek or Tsali is better suited for Mountain bikes.I'm just saying.

  11. #11
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    huddle house is now smoke free! her name is most likely Brandene

  12. #12
    drunken pirate
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    Quote Originally Posted by D.F.L.
    The longest climb you'll find will be an hour.
    Am I really that slow? Many, many Pisgah climbs take me much more than an hour, even a moderate climb like Laurel from the campground can't be done in an hour. I'd agree with Motobutane that it is all climbing. At least at first it will sure seem like it
    More Trails, Not Less

    Adventures in Pisgah

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by driftwood
    Am I really that slow? Many, many Pisgah climbs take me much more than an hour, even a moderate climb like Laurel from the campground can't be done in an hour. I'd agree with Motobutane that it is all climbing. At least at first it will sure seem like it
    You're not that slow, you're just more ambitious than me. I park at Yellow Gap, cutting the climb by a third.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by motobutane
    Getting advice on ride directions is a good idea. I see that alot of visitors complain about hike-a-bikes and it appears they took the wrong direction on a trail..

    YES! Specifically, I can't say how many newbies or visitors have told me they went UP Black Mtn from the work station and got discouraged. No crap. I've been riding in Pisgah since the early 90's and I've gone up that way only a handful of times, just for torture. And one of those times a runner passed me.

    Midwestern stuff...let's see, my husband is from WI and complains about the heat/humidity all year. But you'll be in the woods (shade) most of your ride, and there are COLD streams nearby so you'll be fine with that. Don't wait 'til noon to ride, no matter how much of Asheville's fab beer-sceene you enjoy.

    Although there are lots of gnats and some no-see-ums, we don't have the problem with mosquitos and black flies that are common in the midwest. Yes, you can sit outside after sundown!

    No need to worry about bears. Snakes are another story. Try not to put your hands and feet places that you can't see what's there.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by litespeedchick
    YES! Specifically, I can't say how many newbies or visitors have told me they went UP Black Mtn from the work station and got discouraged. No crap. I've been riding in Pisgah since the early 90's and I've gone up that way only a handful of times, just for torture. And one of those times a runner passed me.

    Midwestern stuff...let's see, my husband is from WI and complains about the heat/humidity all year. But you'll be in the woods (shade) most of your ride, and there are COLD streams nearby so you'll be fine with that. Don't wait 'til noon to ride, no matter how much of Asheville's fab beer-sceene you enjoy.

    Although there are lots of gnats and some no-see-ums, we don't have the problem with mosquitos and black flies that are common in the midwest. Yes, you can sit outside after sundown!

    No need to worry about bears. Snakes are another story. Try not to put your hands and feet places that you can't see what's there.
    and ticks!

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