Mountain bikers out West might be surprised to hear the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina are one of the best places in the country to ride a mountain bike. Bike magazine called the trails around the town of Brevard "America's Best Kept Secret."
The nearby Pisgah National Forest offers a lifetime of mostly technical riding (locals estimate between 200 and 1,000 miles of singletrack) and DuPont State Recreational Forest offers around 100 miles of everything from machine-built flow trails to granite slickrock with sprawling views. At the entrance to Pisgah National Forest, Bike Farm-a mountain bike base camp and guide/coaching service-is constructing a new network of trails (cross-country, freeride, and downhill shuttle runs) and a skills park on its 440-acre biketopia.
With a population of around 8,000, Brevard has old-school small-town charm, great barbecue, and bike shops that serve coffee and beer. The town is surrounded by more than just singletrack. Outside magazine named the town one of the country's "five best places to raise outdoor kids." Climbers flock to Looking Glass Rock and boaters paddle the French Broad River. The Brevard Music Center Festival hosts more than 80 opera, chamber, and orchestra performances each summer, and this year's tenth annual Mountain Song Festival will bring in the bluegrass heavyweights. The area hosts several cycling events, including the famed Pisgah Stage Race, a five-day endurance mountain bike race through the rocky, rooted terrain Pisgah is known for.
Eva Surls co-founded Bike Farm, a mountain bike-centered base camp and guide service located in Pisgah Forest. Here are her recommendations.
"Pisgah's Pilot Rock is technical, challenging, and always pushes me. The climb up via the Laurel Mountain Trail is absolutely beautiful singletrack, and true Pisgah technical."
Budget: "Pisgah Forest is too pretty to stay in a budget hotel. The Bike Farm offers tent camping, glamping in four-season tents in the trees, hot water showers, a bathhouse, and front-door access to the area's best trails."
Plush: "The Red House Inn is a beautiful historic house in downtown Brevard with the best breakfast in town. The owner is a mountain biker and can cater to a cyclist's needs."
Budget: "Crank Coffee serves amazing smoothies, coffee, bagels, pastries, and soups all inside Sycamore Cycles bike shop at the entrance to Pisgah Forest. My favorite smoothie is the Bike Farmer with bananas, kale, almond milk, almond butter, and protein powder."
Gourmet: "Everything is good at Jamie's Creole Brasserie. They source from local farmers and bring a Creole flavor to the mountains of North Carolina. It's worth it."
"The Pisgah Tavern in the Hub bike shop is a bar in a bike shop. Need I say more? Any seat at the bar is great because you can watch the crew wrench on bikes while you enjoy your beer, but the back porch is the place to sit on a sunny day."
"The water around Brevard, whether a trail side creek, a waterfall, or the Davidson River, is part of the magic of this area. Hang by the river or jump off Whale's Back into the really cool swimming hole. You can also canyoneer with Joe at Pura Vida Adventures, fly-fish with the guys at Davidson River Outfitters, or climb with Fox Mountain Guides."