2. Pisgah National Forest

Western North Carolina is home to Pisgah National Forest, stretching north and south of Asheville. The 500,000-acre hardwood forest started as a site for timber extraction. Today, the forest is home to some of the best old-school raw backcountry trails anywhere. You’ll be riding on some of the original logging infrastructure turned into trails, like eroded old road beds that contour along the mountains and old skidder paths that go straight down the fall-line. Unlike DuPont’s less steep, purpose built trails, Pisgah National Forest will make you work for those downhills. At times, you’ll have to get off your bike and push up the rugged hills. Every drop of sweat pays off greatly.

Pisgah North Carolina
With trails that rival the best you’ll find in Utah and Colorado, mountain biking in Pisgah National Forest is a unique experience — but be prepared to work on the rugged uphills

Laurel Mountain / Pilot Rock Loop is one of the best remote trail experiences anywhere

One of my all-time favorite rides in Pisgah is the Laurel Mountain / Pilot Rock Loop. A true backcountry classic, this route takes you up a long climb on a narrow bench-cut trail, clinging to the steep mountainside. After a tough hike-a-bike section, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most rocky and rowdy downhills in Pisgah. Bring your rock-tech skills as this trail bounces up, over and around a seemingly endless rock garden. Once your forearms are screaming for mercy, let go of the brakes and hang on down the final slightly smoother downhill section. 

About the author

Josh Whitmore

Josh Whitmore

Expert Cycling Coach, MTB Skills Instructor, and Rock Climbing Guide

Having grown up in Brevard, the heart of MTB in NC, Josh is an avid lover of all things outdoor adventure related. Coming from a background as a professional mountain bike racer and a previous career in outdoor education and mountain guiding, Josh has worked full time since 2012 as a cycling coach and MTB skills instructor/guide. Josh also stays connected to the rock climbing world and works part time as a climbing guide. With a Masters degree in outdoor education, Josh has dedicated his life to teaching others outdoor skills and helping them pursue their passions. In addition to working with clients directly, Josh often serves as an instructor-trainer, helping other people become excellent outdoor skills instructors.

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