Last week in Pisgah...


NYCMTB: President
Last week I ventured down to North Carolina for a week of vacation with my extended family. We rented a house in Montreat, NC, just east of Asheville, and just over the ridge from a couple classic Pisgah rides (Kitsuma and Heartbreak Ridge). Great riding right out the front door- can't beat it!

Last Monday, I knocked out a 25-30 miler from the house we rented over to Kitsuma and back. A road cruise over to the trails then tough switchback climbs followed by a 2000 vertical foot ridgeline descent on rooty, steep, swoopy and tech trails, with a big-ring climb back out on a decommissioned overgrown highway! Then a long and steep fire road climb up through Ridgecrest to the Old Mt. Mitchell Toll Road (now a trail) and a blazing fast descent down the Rainbow trail back to Montreat- out at 7 am, back by 11 am, no driving necessary!

Fast descending singletrack

Naturally bermed turn

Kicker with a gap way out on the trail

Old US 70 makes for a nice return climb. The kudzu has nearly reclaimed it!

Was awesome to ride narrow ridgelines with views to either side of you through the spruce and fir trees, then bomb down incredibly narrow benchcut singletrack that seemed to just go on and on and on, with fun little kickers (and even some gap jumps) built to the side.


NYCMTB: President
On Tuesday, I hit Bent Creek. After slogging out a 1500 vertical foot middle-ring climb up through undulating ribbons of perfect red clay singletrack (Boyd's Branch, Ingles Field Gap and North Boundary), I reached the beginning of East Coast mountain bike nirvana. The trail's name is "Green's Lick," it was built and reworked by a couple of Asheville's finest trail builders, and it just might be the most fun trail this side of Whistler's A-Line (lift-served or XC). As I let off the brakes and cruised over the "qualifier" rock garden they recently built at the trailhead, I didn't know quite what to expect- I'd watched the youtube videos, and seen some pics, but I wasn't really ready for just how awesome it was going to be, and for how long it would last. It's a high-speed adrenaline rush with grade reversal after grade reversal (you can call them kickers if you want- the effect is the same). So you're actually in the air for a good 1/4 of the trail, when you're not high-siding a berm/wallride or pumping some rollers to keep speed for the next hit. After about 8-9 minutes of near continuous descending, the trail dumps you out at the bottom of another fine trail called "Sidehill", which I've heard some affectionately call the "goat climb." All I could think about after riding down Green's Lick was doing it again. I've *NEVER* felt that way about a trail after riding (OK, maybe when taking the lift back up, but not when it meant pedaling for another 50 minutes to get back up! ;) ). I hammered up Sidehill to Little Hickory Top back to "Five Points" and up North Boundary to the top of Green's Lick. Was pushing gears two cogs smaller on the way up this time- the anticipation of riding it again propelled me forward much faster the second time, and indeed I shaved off 10 minutes from the climb this time! The second time on Green's Lick was better than the first. I had a sense of the rhythm of the trail and where I could let off the brakes, and I pushed my poor bike about as far as it was meant to go... sailing over grade reversals, weaving through the new 5-pack of berms they've built after the rock armoring, and generally bombing the trail. If I'd had time, I would have climbed and ridden it again.

Green's Lick is definitely in my top 5 of favorite trails I've ridden.

Green's Lick trailhead "qualifier"

Nice rock armoring

More nice rock armoring of the steeps

OMG, berms. 5 beautifully linked bermed turns in a row...

Quintessential singletrack back up- tight, well-graded and gorgeous

Rhododendron corridor on one of the easier trails


NYCMTB: President
Friday was the biggie- from Montreat, up to the Old Mt. Mitchell Toll Road (which is now just a hiking trail that crosses public but mostly private property) to the Blue Ridge Parkway, then down the Heartbreak Ridge trail (following the ORAMM route) and over to Ridgecrest (near the Kitsuma trailhead), then up the Rattlesnake trail and down Old Toll Road and Rainbow trails to Montreat. Took me 5 hours and 20 minutes to pull it all off, with only a few short breaks.

Started off with a long, long climb up the Old Mt. Mitchell toll road. Our rental house in Montreat is at 2600 feet. The Blue Ridge Parkway where I met it was at 5000 feet. Yum. Climbing was mostly middle ring, kinda like riding up Dickey Brook and Ned's Left Lung at Blue Mtn, but for 2 hours and 15 minutes straight.... ;) sometimes smooth, but a lot of nice rocky sections like this one...


The view certainly didn't suck.


More toll road


Temps were fantastic- in the low 70's in Montreat, and MUCH colder up on the Parkway- I was looking forward to a bit of climbing to warm up after the brief cruise down the Parkway. Unfortunately, it was about 50 yards of hike-a-bike up rocky and rooty trails...


But the payoff was worth it.


I had to stop a few times to take in the views of the ridge I had just climbed up.


But it was hard to stop when 5 miles and 3500 vertical feet of singletrack descent kept beckoning...



NYCMTB: President
Even the 2-3 brief climbs didn't take anything away from the overall descent, as they snaked around rocks with big exposures.


The ORAMM guys did a nice job of clearing and cleaning the trail last weekend (and re-routing around one particularly large blowdown). I ran into the promoter, Todd, marking the course and riding up the trail as I was riding down. Had a nice chat- he LOVED the NMBS race course up at Windham a couple weeks ago.


Towards the end the trail got even steeper and rootier as it dropped into a creek bottom...


After Heartbreak Ridge, I followed the ORAMM course on a 3-mile climb up a dirt road with another 900 vert in elevation gain, then cut through Ridgecrest again up the Rattlesnake trail (and another 900 vertical foot climb) to the Old Toll Road then back down the Rainbow trail. Rattlesnake did me in on Monday, with steep and loose pitches that I had to walk. No walking this time around. By the top, I was blown from so much super-steep climbing, but still let loose on the bombing descent back to the house. So, so sweet. Mileage somewhere between 30 and 40. 5 hours and 20 minutes door to door.

Was a great trip. Rode a bunch of great trails. Can't wait to head back down next year and venture into Dupont and more classic Pisgah trails...


Unapologetic Lifer for Rock and Roll
Wow, the evidence that this area is mtb heaven continues to mount.

Thanks for the detailed reports and photos. One of these days I'll get down there...


Well-Known Member
Great photos and write up. Its pretty cool to see the road being taken back by nature. Thanks for posting the photos.


Well-Known Member
My friend asked me to go in April/may. Which bike should I bring. ReignX or 80mm hardtail. The X is probably over kill but when gaps and sweet berms show up I know I'll be wishing I had it. I just dunno how fast his friends plan to ride.
Thanks for posting. What a perfect time of the year to head down there especially with how terrible things are up here. Might have to make a family trip down there next year. :hmmm:


Well-Known Member
Thanks for posting the pics. My wife and I are going to Pisgah and Tsali around May 20 with some MTB tandem friends. We are really looking foward to it.
Ed Gifford


Got a link to the place you stayed or any other house rentals?? I'm heading down there sometime this year with a few friends and looking for a good place to stay. A cabin on the trails would be sweet..


Thanks a bunch for posting this up. I have always wondered how the trails looked like in NC. I normally hit Maggie valley and Charlotte when I go down there, and stay mostly around Stanfield. Been to Ashville three times so far and its a beautiful place. I have to keep an eye on this place and probably take a vacation this year and head down that way soon.
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