Asheville, North Carolina can more than hold its own with any cycling destination in the country. That’s a bold claim, sure, but it’s one we think pretty hard to argue with. That’s on account of the huge diversity of biking options in and around the city: from paved urban paths to nitty-gritty mountain trails delivering epic vistas and a hardcore workout.
Here we’ll survey the greater Asheville bike scene, suggesting not only some specific trail networks to explore but also some local outfitters that’ll get you set up in style for some pedal-powered awesomeness!
Plenty of great biking awaits you right within Asheville’s city limits. The French Broad River Greenway, for example, provides a nearly three-mile-long trail shuttling you from French Broad River Trail Park to Hominy Creek and Carrier parks. A lovely ride, with plenty of good spots for riverside, rests along the way.
Another fantastic option is the bike-trail network on the grounds of Asheville’s most famous historic landmark, that Gilded Age stunner the Biltmore Estate. Here you’ll find some 23 miles of paths, including the paved Lagoon Trail: yours to enjoy on your own set of wheels, or on a mountain or hybrid bike rented at the Biltmore’s Bike Barn, which you reach on the second floor of Antler Hill Barn. (The Bike Barn also rents out tag-alongs and trailers.)
For mountain bikers of all ages and skill levels, it doesn’t get more convenient than the LOLO Bike Park, run by the Adventure Center of Asheville as (in its words) “a mountain-bike sampler pack.” That’s an apt description, given the variety of routes—single-tracks, flow trails, pump tracks—and the smorgasbord of jumps, step-downs, berms, bridges, and other fun features. Fine-tune your technique in LOLO’s Skills Park and the bouldery Drop Zone, and let the pint-sized cyclists go nuts (safely, of course) in the “Littleville” bike playground.
Road Biking Out of Asheville
Hearty exercise and some of the best scenery in the East beckon the road cyclist into Asheville’s big Appalachian backyard. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a popular choice, and understandably so given its mountain sightlines and sylvan splendor. Prepare to be utterly dazzled, for example, pedaling the classic circuit from Asheville to the Mount Pisgah Overlook. You can also incorporate the view-rich Elk Mountain Scenic Highway with the Parkway for one heck of a loop.
Another regional road-cycling treasure? The Point Lookout Trail, a roughly four-mile paved ride through the Pisgah National Forest on a closed road: formerly U.S. 70 between Old Fort and Ridgecrest.
Mountain Biking Near Asheville
The Blue Ridge hinterland of Asheville offers nearly endless opportunities for truly world-class mountain biking. At more than 500,000 acres, the aforementioned Pisgah is the premier playground. The Pisgah’s Bent Creek Experimental Forest is hugely prized by Asheville-area cyclists, given it’s a mere 15 miles or so from downtown and offers some 30 miles of single-tracks as well as extensive forest roads. (As an added bonus, it borders the North Carolina Arboretum and its additional bike trails covering easy to difficult routes.) Elsewhere on the national forest are such legendary mountain-biking challenges as the Black Mountain or “Clawhammer” loop, spoken of in reverent tones by trail-crushers in the know.
Other scenic and varied mountain biking can be found at the Tsali Recreation Area on the Nantahala National Forest as well as the waterfall-laced Dupont State Forest. Another good spot within day-tripping reach of Asheville is the Bailey Mountain Bike Park.
Bike Shops & Outfitters in Asheville
Whether you need to rent a bike, stock up on spare parts and equipment, or get some expert advice on good routes or current conditions, you’ll be well taken care of thanks to Asheville’s sturdy lineup of bike shops and outfitters. They include Beer City Bicycles, Liberty Bicycles, Asheville Adventure Rentals, Motion Makers, Carolina Fatz, Youngblood Bicycles, and the Asheville Bicycle Co., to name a few.
It’s also worth mentioning an outfitter based outside of Asheville: For cycling adventures in the Pisgah National Forest, you can’t go wrong with the Bike Farm, set smack dab in the Pisgah itself (courtesy of a Special Use Permit from the Forest Service). The Bike Farm leads private mountain-biking excursions and provides lessons and clinics to boot.
Asheville: One of the Country’s Best Cycling Destinations
The long and the short of it—as we suggested right at the start—is that Asheville provides some of the richest opportunities for recreational cycling in the country, from its downtown greenways to remote ridgetop trails in the rugged backcountry. The fact that you can wrap up your ride with some fantastic dining and exceptional locally brewed craft beer—well, that’s the icing on the cake!