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  • What should I expect?
    Pisgah is home to hundreds of miles of trail, much of which was built to facilitate logging in the forest or for mountaineering. The trails are often described as technical, with a lot of roots, rocks, and technical sections. Many trails are also narrow, cut out of the side of the mountain, and can be high consequence. The trails are often wet or damp, which makes them slippery and challenging to navigate. That said, there are approachable trails in Pisgah for most riders, but we recommend that riders unfamiliar with riding in the area consider the added difficulty over riding in their home areas. In practice, that means maybe renting a longer travel bike, using more aggressive tires, and riding trails that are rated less difficult than those they normally ride.
  • Who else will I encounter on the trails?
    Unlike DuPont, where the entire forest is open to equestrians, you generally will only encounter other mountain bikers and hikers on the mountain bike trails in Pisgah. The exceptions are typically in the Turkey Pen area, where a few commercial equestrian operations take visitors on horseback rides. Riding in that area, particularly the segment of South Mills River between the parking lot and Mullinax, you are likely to encounter large groups of riders on horseback, some of which will not be experienced. In some rarer cases, you'll encounter horses on Spencer Branch and/or Trace Ridge. As always, please be respectful, slow down, and dismount to pass unless the rider says you can go through. Hikers have access to every trail in Pisgah, although you are less likely to encounter them on some trails than others. We have a bit of a shaky relationship with many of the hiking groups in the area due to rude behavior on the part of mountain bikers, especially those from out of town. With all user groups, please take the time to slow down and say hello before passing or whenever you see someone. It's generally considered rude to silently ride past without saying anything and it doesn't do us favors when we try to obtain access in the forest. Saying hello can diffuse tension and prevent accidents.
  • I have x days to ride, what trails should I do?"
    The rides you do will depend on your fitness, skill level, and trail conditions. The trails in Pisgah can be very different for most riders and pose interesting challenges for riders of all skill levels. We often see riders come in from out of town and try to tackle some of the most difficult trails in the area first, then get discouraged. We'd recommend a more progressive approach that pushes yourself, but not so far that you don't enjoy the ride. In general, if you have several days to ride, we recommend steadily ramping up the difficulty as your time progresses. You can see our trail listing for a list of trails and their difficulties. Our general advice on this is to start out with trails at the Fish Hatchery like Cove Creek or the bridge side of Daniel's Ridge, possibly Butter Gap if you have the time/energy. Each of those has sections that will challenge you, but not to the point the ride won't be enjoyable. If you are feeling confident with those, you can then look at doing something like Avery Creek, Bennet Gap, or Middle Black next and progressing through to more difficult options from there. If you are shorter on time and consider yourself an intermediate or advanced rider, we'd recommend getting a taste of the more difficult trails in the area even if it means walking a few sections. Several of the essential rides in this category would be Middle Black, Bennett Gap, Pilot, and Avery Creek.
  • What trails are beginner friendly?
    There are no true beginner trails in Pisgah. The easiest trails in the Brevard area are going to be in DuPont, which is predominately flowier, smooth trails. That said, there are trails that are approachable by new riders depending on trail conditions. We'd recommend looking at Cove Creek for a longer ride or one of the Sycamore trails, preferably Upper Sycamore.
  • Which bike should I bring?
    Pisgah has a fair amount of technical terrain, but is rideable on just about anything. If you have an aggressive, full suspension bike, then that would be ideal for the long and technical descents, however hardtails are definitely viable for all of the trails in the area, but it will be more difficult depending on skill level.
  • What tires should I run?
    Most riders in the Brevard area ride enduro oriented tires to handle the varied conditions, off camber features, and provide braking traction on steeper trails. I typically suggest running the most aggressive tires you are comfortable running, because tire choice is very personal and will depend on your bike/riding style/experience/skill level. Many folks get by fine on XC tires, however that is probably less than ideal for most riders not familiar with riding steeper, sustained descents. You may pay a rolling speed penalty with the slower, grippier tires, however most climbing here is going to be on gravel roads and you'll likely not find a significant penalty compared to the benefit of having more control on the downhills. Personally, I do not run anything less than a Maxxis Minion DHF 2.3 3C/EXO up front and Aggressor 2.3 EXO in the rear. I typically run a 2.5-ish size tire up front and 2.4 in the rear, depending on season.
  • What type of trail conditions should I expect?
    Pisgah has unpredictable weather and a large amount of rainfall. It's usually going to be wet somewhere, if not from rain then from a stream or creek that randomly popped up in the middle of the trail. If it does rain, then the roots and rocks will likely be slippery, so plan accordingly. The trails handle water well and drain well. typically. During the winter, freeze/thaw can set in and make more sensitive trails muddier or mushier. The best bet is to ask local folks what to ride when it's been raining heavily for several days or the temps create freeze/thaw conditions.
  • What weather should I expect?
    Usually Pisgah can be ridden year round, the area doesn't get a ton of snowfall but we'd reocmmend checking with local weather conditions before making the trip, if possible. The most accurate forecasts seem to come from Ray's Weather Center: Weather conditions can vary and be unpredictable, it's usually a good bet to plan on getting rained on during the summer if you are riding after 2pm. During the winter, temps can vary wildly from 20f to 60f. Your best bet during the fall/winter/spring is to plan on conditions ranging from very cold to reasonably warm. During summer, it can vary from low 70f to low 90f, with afternoon showers being somewhat common, so plan on warmer temps and high humidity.
  • It's going to rain, what should I ride if it's wet?"
    The trails in Pisgah are fairly natural and drain very well, but like anywhere, they can become saturated or soggy, especially during the winter. You'll need to consider the time of year (winter is worse than summer) and trail surface. There is almost always something you can ride, but some trails are more sensitive than others. Typically, trails like Pilot Rock, Farlow Gap, and the rocky side of Daniel's Ridge handle water well regardless of conditions. Other trails, like Sycamore Cove, Spencer Branch, Squirrel Gap, Trace Ridge, and Cove Creek typically do well after some rain, but long periods of sustained rainfall or freeze/thaw will likely make them less rideable and muddier. Trails like Black Mountain, Bennett Gap, Butter Gap, and the bridge side of Daniels can be more sensitive when it comes to sustained rainfall. Note that during the summer rain is typical, with pop up showers occurring on a regular basis. Typically, these are not the issue, rather long periods of sustained rainfall over a period of a week or more and/or combined with freeze/thaw.
  • Can I shuttle?
    Unlike some other areas of the US, shuttling in Pisgah is a bit more challenging, mostly because the shuttled trails still require some climbing or hike-a-bike and the roads to the top are out of the way. If your goal is to have a longer day and avoid a single fire road climb, it's certainly feasible. If you are aiming to run a trail over and over, that becomes more difficult, as you have to account for time climbing/pushing and driving to out of the way or narrow roads up and down. It is also worth checking road status, as many fire roads in Pisgah close at the discretion of the USFS, especially during the winter. The current shuttles I'm aware of are: - Cove Creek (Headwaters Rd -> Cove Creek Rd) - Still have some light climbing at the top - Butter Gap - Bennett Gap (Avery Creek Rd) - Climbing at the top and hike-a-bike in the middle. - Avery Creek (Avery Creek Rd) - Requires a push up Club Gap If you want to just run shuttles all day, Bailey Mountain bike park may be a better choice. The shuttling in Pisgah is not as accessible as some shuttling destinations
  • Will you guide me on x trail?
    As much as I enjoy showing people new to the area around, I'm not really qualified to act as a trail guide. If you are looking for someone to guide you in person, which is highly recommend for first time Pisgah riders, then please consider hiring a local guide from Redwolf Tours, The Bike Farm, or REEB Ranch.
  • Seasonal Trails?
    The following trails are only open between October 15 and April 15 for mountain biking: - Butter Gap from Long Branch to Cat Gap - Cat Gap - Coontree Loop - Pink Beds - North Slope Our access to these trails is precarious and is possibly going to be lost due to poaching during the off season and user conflicts. I've personally had convserations with people at the top of these trails and explained this, asking them not to ride them, then have them proceed to poach them on a holiday weekend when they are full of hikers. Behavior like that will mean we lose access. They are also sensitive due to user conflicts, mainly mountain bikers being rude or disrespectful of other trail users. If you are going to chase KOMs, then do it when the trail is less likely to be full of hikers. If you do encounter hikers, slow down and say hello to diffuse tensions and help us retain access to these trails.
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