Lower Black Mountain
Updated: Oct 4, 2019
Summary: The final segment of the Black Mountain trail consists of some fast, flowy bits along with rock armoring, bridges, wall rides, and alt line jumps.
Difficulty: Pisgah Beginner - The trail starts off fairly flowy, there are a few rock armored sections that may pose challenges for true beginners, but overall the trail is fairly mellow for Pisgah, although the speed you can keep on the trail can make it higher consequence.
Length/Elevation Change: .9 miles from top to bottom, no climbing on Black itself
Notable features: There are several bridges that are slippery when wet and a few rocky segments that, while not overly technical, may pose difficulties for those not familiar with riding rock armored trails.
The trail starts at the intersection of Thrift Cove and Middle Black and begins fairly flowy:
The trail remains this way for a fair bit:
The trail will weave around with some nice berms and flowy sections, until you reach a pretty sharp left hand turn, which leads you to this bridge and rocky segment:
From here, the trail changes character slightly. While this rock armored section is the longest and trickiest, there are a few other armored segments, rocky bits, and chunky sections between here and the final bridge, after which it flows a bit more.
The rock garden above continues straight for a little while, then you have a small hump to get over combined with a left hand turn:
After the left hand turn, you should see the end of the rock garden and a bridge:
The rocks here aren't of much consequence, as they are low lying and well embedded rather than loose, but this segment can be difficult to keep speed up on due to it's length and it's easy to get tossed off line, especially if the rocks are wet. The entrance is also a bit iffy, as there is one rock that is angled funky.
I generally hate to use the "keep speed" advice, but unless you are really confident pedaling through rocky sections, keeping some speed into the entrance will help you get through the most awkward parts and up that hump in the middle. Once you are over the hump, it's a matter of rolling down some low lying rocks and crossing the bridge. Of all the segments on the trail, I observe most beginners have the most trouble with this section, but once you get through the entrance, it eases up a fair bit.
Afterwards, the trail flows a bit more, but you'll see more optional rock lines, like below::
These sections are less of an optional line and more of a ridearound that people created around the original rock line. When I first rode Black, the rock steps you see on the left were the only line, but people started to ride around them on the right and a new line was formed. The ethical implications of this aside, the line is there now and it's up to you to decide if you wan to ride it as originally intended or take the bypass.
From here, you'll see a few sections like the above, with low lying rocks to roll over and a few small-ish rock gardens:
After a while, the trail will turn left towards a bridge and you'll see this wall ride:
After the wallride, which is optional, you'll see the bridge below:
The only caution with this bridge is to be real careful when it's wet. The other side has a longer wooden slope than the others and if it's wet, it's easy to slide down it and get awkward, best to stay straight especially if it's wet.
This is also where the trail opens up a bit more and most of the rock armoring (until the very end) wraps up:
You'll come up to a wall ride of sorts on the left side of the trail (it's flattened out a fair bit in recent years) with a small rock rolldown on the other side:
From here, the trail weaves around a bit and crosses some small rock gardens (relative to the rest of the trail), before finishing on this final rock armored segment:
The photo above is looking back up the trail, it's a fairly long runout to finish back on Thrift Cove. The rocks can be slippery when wet and there are two 2ish ft drops within, but everything is rollable and easy to take slow. The only time I see folks get in trouble here is trying to weave around the rocks and stuffing a wheel in the wrong place, so my suggestion would be to roll down the middle, but there will be some bumps along the way.
Lower Black connects at the top with Middle Black, so if you ride Middle Black Mountain, you'll end up on Lower Black. The other option is to do Lower Black with Thrift Cove, which makes for a roughly 4 mile loop. You can park at the first paved lot on the right entering the forest, climb Thrift Cove, which pitches downhill near the end and dumps out at the intersection with Black, right where Lower Black picks up.