10 Top Mountain Bike Trails Near Asheville

Asheville is home to some of the best trail riding in the country. Here are one local guide’s top picks for your mountain bike adventure.

The singletrack near Asheville, North Carolina, is legendary. The funky city of 80,000 is surrounded by Pisgah National Forest, which boasts more than 300 miles of trails. Over the years, Pisgah has become one of the most popular mountain bike destinations on the East Coast, particularly for advanced bikers looking for technical rides. The singletrack is known for its steep climbs, descents and seemingly endless root gardens. But in the last few years, a bevy of trail work has helped diversify the area’s mountain bike offerings. Classic rides have been refurbished and entirely new systems have been built with beginner and intermediate bikers in mind. The trail-building revolution has turned Asheville into a more diverse riding destination with trails suited to all abilities. In other words, there’s never been a better time to ride Asheville than right now.  

Berm Park

  • Location: Canton, 19 miles west of Asheville  
  • Length: 2+ miles 
  • Difficulty: Beginner to expert
  • Best for: Intermediates looking to improve skills 

There are 2 miles of trails at Berm Park, a newly-minted bike park on the edge of downtown Canton that celebrated its grand opening in April 2022. The system was designed (and largely paid for) by YouTube star Seth Alvo to give back to the mountain bike community that has supported him over the years. It’s the sort of bike park that you typically find on private property that demands an entrance fee, but this is on public land and free to all. Most of the trails are short loops with a series of features designed for specific types of riders. So green trails have easy rollers and bermed turns while more advanced black and double black diamond trails have large tabletops and mandatory drops.  

Trails are directional, and an almost mile-long climbing trail begins at the parking lot and goes up the side of the mountain via a series of tight switchbacks. Once you reach the top, you have a handful of small loops to choose from, all of which are signed according to their difficulty, like a ski slope. Beginners should stick to the green and blue loops, which don’t require defying gravity. Clickbait, rated black, has steep descents that lead into tabletops, which you can roll or launch depending on your comfort level. The double black Roll The Dice trail shouldn’t be attempted by anyone who isn’t riding at an expert level.  

A separate, mile-long descent takes you back to the parking lot. It’s labeled as green/blue, but it’s rocky and more technical than you might expect, so true beginners should use caution. While there are a couple of small beginner loops at the top of the park, this destination is best for intermediate riders looking to improve their technique. There isn’t a lot of mileage in the park currently (new trails are already under construction), so Berm Park is all about sessioning features like tabletops, fast-paced berms and steep drops. 

Bent Creek Epic

  • Location: Bent Creek Experimental Forest, 12 miles southwest of downtown Asheville  
  • Length: 20 miles 
  • Difficulty: Intermediate to expert 
  • Best for: Intermediate bikers looking for a big ride close to town  

Bent Creek is the most popular mountain bike destination in Asheville, thanks to its proximity to town and vast trail network. Locals call it “Pisgah Lite” because it’s not quite as technical as the trails just over the ridge, but it gives you a solid taste of what the forest holds. This mini epic ride takes in the best that Bent Creek has to offer, linking most of the area’s singletrack and doubletrack with low-traffic gravel roads. Follow the directions and you’ll hit Bent Creek’s well-known highlights, which include Green’s Lick, a raucous 2-mile downhill that should be on any mountain biker’s bucket list, and the fast descent on Explorer Loop. But you’ll also get to ride lesser-known gems, like the 2-mile, almost flowy Sidehill downhill and the fitness-litmus test climb up Ingles Field. Completing the entire loop isn’t for the faint of heart and will require more than 2,600 feet of climbing, but there are multiple bail options along the route if you have second thoughts. This ride is best for intermediate bikers looking for a multi-hour ride close to town. If you hit it on the weekend, trailheads within Bent Creek will likely be crowded, but usage disperses as you move further away from the parking lot.  

DuPont Figure Eight 

  • Location: DuPont State Forest, 40 miles south of Asheville 
  • Length: 6.3 miles 
  • Difficulty: Intermediate 
  • Best for: Intermediate bikers who like big views and fun downhills 

DuPont State Recreational Forest has some of the most cherished mountain bike rides in western North Carolina, with more than 80 miles of trails traversing a variety of terrain that provides access to backcountry lakes and hidden waterfalls. The 2.5-mile Ridgeline trail is probably the most sought-after, thanks to its long, sinuous downhill flow. But that trail and several connector trails are currently undergoing some much-needed maintenance, which makes this the perfect time to explore an old-school DuPont ride with long-range views, fast descents and the forest’s signature “East Coast slickrock.” 

The ride starts at Corn Mill Shoals parking area and hits the flowy ups and downs of Burnt Mountain Trail that ends with a fast, technical descent with rock drops before climbing Cedar Rock, a partially exposed granite dome where the trail follows a vein of rock to the summit. Enjoy the long-range views before bombing down the other side of the mountain, following cairns down the sloping granite until you reenter the forest below. This is one of DuPont’s signature trails and the best example of slickrock riding on the East Coast.  

It’s a short ride, but it packs a big punch with fun, technical descents and some of the best scenery in the forest.  

Old Fort Gateway Trails

  • Location: Old Fort, 25 miles east of Asheville 
  • Length: 2+ miles 
  • Difficulty: Beginner to intermediate  
  • Best for: Beginners and intermediates who crave flow

True flow trails are hard to find in Pisgah National Forest, as are true beginner trails. The rocky, rooty and steep nature of the mountains within Pisgah naturally lend itself to more advanced trails. Somehow, the new Gateway Trails, just outside of downtown Old Fort, manage to satisfy both of those much-needed requirements. The new system of interconnected loops opened in summer, offering more than 6 miles of mountain bike optimized trails (read: flow), most of which are beginner-friendly but have enough character to keep intermediate and even advanced bikers entertained.  

A gravel road, Jarrett’s Creek, climbs from the parking lot delivering bikers to the top of the various trail intersections and providing a relatively flat climb for bikers who want to run laps on their favorite trail. Gateway Trail, the longest at 1.7 miles, is mostly a high-speed descent with high-bermed turns and fun rhythm sections with rollers spaced out perfectly along the singletrack. Betty’s Run is just .3 miles but is loaded with tabletops that you can launch or roll. Intermediate riders will enjoy linking up Salt Gap, Oak Hollow and Forager for two miles of switchbacks, flow sections and the occasional root garden. All rides lead back to the trailhead, and you can choose your length and difficulty, making this the perfect place for families looking to ride together and intermediate bikers wanting speed, flow and the chance to jump. 

Spencer Gap-Trace Ridge Loop

  • Location: North Mills River Recreation Area, 25 miles south of downtown Asheville 
  • Length: 7 miles
  • Difficulty: Advanced 
  • Best for: Advanced riders wanting a short, classic Pisgah ride 

The North Mills River Recreation Area offers Asheville-based bikers relatively close access to Pisgah’s singletrack and roadside campsites. The Spencer GapTrace Ridge Loop is a longstanding classic that features two of the forest’s signature staples: a long gravel road climb and a screaming fast, technical descent. Start at the Trace Ridge parking area and make your way to Wash Creek Road, a gradual climb that leads you to Spencer Gap, where the climbing gets steeper on terrain that’s littered with loose rock and slick roots. Pick up Trace Ridge Trail at the top of Spencer Gap, and after one last short, steep climb, you’re pointing your wheels downhill for more than 3 miles of fast red dirt, rock gardens and ledge drops. Most of the drops are small enough to roll but pick your line carefully if you’re not confident. Trace Ridge received a mild reroute a few years ago, so it’s not the rutted-out creek bed that it once was, but it still demands precision. If you’re not used to techy downhills, there’s no shame in going slow and taking a break to shake out your hands. The 7-mile loop is almost evenly split between gravel and singletrack and has 1,000 feet of climbing balanced by 1,000 feet of descending.  

Black Mountain Loop 

  • Location: Pisgah National Forest, outside of Brevard 
  • Length: 13.5 miles 
  • Difficulty: Advanced  
  • Best for: Advanced riders wanting the quintessential Pisgah experience 

If Pisgah National Forest had a signature trail, it would be Black Mountain. The loop starts deep in the forest’s backcountry at Buckhorn Gap and runs for 8 miles up, over and down the eponymous mountain via more root gardens and boulder drops than any biker can possibly count. To do the entire Black Mountain Loop, as we lay out here, is a full-body experience that includes extensive hike-a-bike sections and top-notch downhill skills. It is hard. It is long. And it is awesome. It’s also mostly brand new as much of Black Mountain has been rerouted to avoid erosion. The new trail maximizes the contour of the mountain and adds more than a mile to the overall descent.  

The ride starts with a seemingly endless gravel road climb delivering you to Black Mountain Trail, where you’ll keep climbing while pushing your bike over root gardens and boulders until you crest and claim arguably the best view in the entire forest, stretching across the green horizon and taking in Looking Glass Rock. From the peak, the fun starts, as the new trail unrolls in fast, benchcut singletrack that combines technical rock gardens with high-speed flow. Mandatory drops lead into sharp corners and inventive rock armoring efforts keep you on your toes throughout the entire 3-mile downhill. This ride isn’t for beginners and even advanced riders should stay alert. Bring snacks and plenty of water, as it’s a multi-hour effort.

Big Ivy Downhill  

  • Location: Big Ivy in Barnardsville, 20 miles north of Asheville 
  • Length: 16 miles  
  • Difficulty: Advanced 
  • Best for: Advanced riders looking for a long, technical downhill 

Big Ivy is an often-overlooked section of Pisgah National Forest north of Asheville, just outside of the small town of Barnardsville. A long gravel road climbs from the entrance gate to the top of the forest intersected by several old-school hiking trails along its journey. Those trails mostly feature steep, technical descents and have become favorites of local downhill mountain bikers in the know, who typically catch shuttle rides on the gravel and save their energy for the wicked descents. No worries if you don’t have a shuttle, though. The gravel road, NFSR #74, offers a near-constant 9-mile climb to the top of the ridge, giving you the opportunity for a balanced loop that features just as much ascent (2,000 feet) as descent.  

From the top of the gravel climb at Bullhead Ridge, take the gated grassy forest road for 2.6 miles to Bear Pen Trail, a fast, flowy downhill with high berms and plenty of B-line jump opportunities. At the bottom of Bear Pen, you’ll cross the forest road you climbed and pick up Walker Creek Trail, which is steeper and more technical than Bear Pen, with plenty of fall-line rock gardens that will have you hovering over your back tire. Altogether, the downhill is more than 5 miles long with almost 2,100 feet of drop.  


  • Location: Black Mountain, 16 miles east of downtown Asheville  
  • Length: 10 miles  
  • Difficulty: Intermediate 
  • Best for: Intermediate riders who want a short but action-packed loop 

Kitsuma shouldn’t be this much fun. Half of this ride is on pavement, and once you hit dirt, you must climb a set of infamous switchbacks that have made many a biker shout obscenities into the forest. And yet, the downhill is so good that it makes any struggle or inconvenience worth the effort. 

Park at the Old Fort Picnic Area and climb Old 70, a former highway that’s been gated and turned into a greenway. You’ll have to connect the 4-mile climb and Kitsuma’s singletrack with some surface streets that have light traffic, but it’s a short connector and the payoff is huge. Once you’re on Kitsuma proper, expect almost immediate climbing via a series of tight switchbacks to the top of Kitsuma Peak. A quick downhill is followed by another steep climb. And then you’re in for a constant 3-mile descent through a mature forest. The singletrack is skinny, fast and loaded with drops and jumps, making this one of the best rides in the entire Pisgah National Forest. 

Weed Patch Mountain 

  • LocationBuffalo Creek Park, near Lake Lure, 42 miles from Asheville 
  • Length: 20 miles, out and back  
  • Difficulty: Advanced  
  • Best for: Intermediate bikers looking for big views  

The 7.8-mile long Weed Patch Mountain Trail was built in 2018 on the edge of Chimney Rock State Park, near the resort town of Lake Lure. The massive trail project opened a remote slice of mountain to hikers and mountain bikers, providing access to hidden caves and long-range views of the Hickory Nut Gorge. It also provided a much-needed ride destination for e-bikers. While Pisgah National Forest’s trails are currently closed to e-bikes, Weed Patch Mountain Trail is open to all, providing a true backcountry experience to those who ride pedal-assist whips.  

The ride starts at Buffalo Creek Park Trailhead and starts climbing almost immediately as you traverse half of the park’s 3-mile loop before veering off on Weed Patch Mountain proper. From the intersection, the nearly 8-mile trail climbs 2,500 feet to its culmination at Eagle Rock, a large granite outcropping with views of Hickory Nut Gorge. Along the way, you’ll encounter endless rock gardens, tight switchbacks and pass small caves and large boulders galore. This is a true backcountry experience, so come prepared. And remember, it’s an out-and-back so whatever you climb, you get to descend. 

Fonta Flora Trail  

  • Location: Lake James State Park, 50 miles east of Asheville 
  • Length: 4-mile loop  
  • Difficulty: Beginner  
  • Best for: Beginners looking for flow 

Lake James State Park has been a destination for beginner mountain bikers since 2014 when 13 miles of stacked loops were built in the Paddy’s Creek area of the park. But the park has become even more attractive to bikers looking for flow as the Fonta Flora State Trail continues to grow in the area. The Fonta Flora is a long trail in progress that will eventually connect Asheville to Morganton via 100 miles of off-road path. Included in the trail’s master plan is a 29-mile singletrack loop around Lake James, roughly half of which is already built and open to bikers and hikers.  

Mountain bikers looking for a mini-epic can connect the newly minted Fonta Flora Trail with the older East Wimba/West Wimba stacked loops in the Paddy’s Creek area for an over 25-mile ride. But if you’re looking for a quick hit, stick with the 4-mile Fonta Flora loop within the County Park, on the north side of the lake. The terrain is machine-built singletrack with plenty of grade reversals and mellow berms with only a few hundred feet of elevation gain on the loop. You’ll even have the opportunity to hit a remote beach and take a dip in the lake.