"Upper Upper" Black Mountain
Updated: Oct 4, 2019
Summary: Reworked in 2019, this downhill segment of Upper Black Mountain connects the left side of Clawhammer Rd to Avery Creek, Buckwheat Knob, and Club Gap. The trail consists of some large berms, doubles, natural rock features, and small chunky sections. Note we're only covering the downhill segment here, not the climb from Clawhammer Rd.
Difficulty: Pisgah Intermediate / Advanced (depending on how you ride it) - The trail has a number of advanced features, including doubles and gaps, however all can be ridden around if you choose. There are some steep segments and some chunky bits, but the majority of the high consequence or difficult features have ridearounds.
Length/Elevation Change: .3 miles, no climbing
Notable features: All the advanced or high consequence features have ridearounds. The first feature of note is a rock gap at the very top, followed by a double and a 3-4ft drop in the middle. The segments that follow consist of some alternate line features that are optional, a few small root steps, and a small rock slab. All of the ridearounds and main line features are rollable, but there are some steep sections.
To help break up confusion, Black Mountain is broken into several segments (from the bottom up):
Lower Black - Accessible standalone via Thrift Cove
Middle Black - Accessible standalone w/ Lower via Maxwell Rd
Upper Black - Accessible standalone w/ Middle + Lower via Clawhammer Rd, turning right at the intersection with Black
Upper-Upper Black or Upper-Left Black - Accessible standalone by going left at Clawhammer Rd, connecting to Buckwheat/Avery/Club
The first three segments (1-3) are connected from the top of Clawhammer Rd down to the end at 276, it's one straight shot from the right side of Clawhammer Rd. We aren't talking about any of those here, so if you go right on Clawhammer Rd, that's a different segment of trail.
Instead, we're discussing the segment of Black that leads from the left side of Clawhammer Rd, peaks once, drops down briefly, then climbs up again to the final downhill to the Avery/Club/Buckwheat/Black intersection.
For purposes of this walkthrough, we'll only be talking about the downhill. We'll cover the climb in another walkthrough, as it's fairly long and there are ways around it (more on that in the directions).
At any rate, you'll see this as the first feature immediately after the peak:
The line to the right has a fairly considerable gap, whereas the left is more of a traditional rock garden. It's a bit easier to see the gap on top of the feature:
I don't pretend that I could even begin to offer advice on hitting the right side, but it's worth checking out before running into it. I typically roll through the rocks on the left and head into the berm that follows immediately afterward.
The trail will S-turn around some berms a bit, then you'll come up on this rollable double:
Shortly after the double, the trail will turn left and you'll come up on the largest drop on the trail:
The photo above is looking back at the feature. The downward side of it, as you can somewhat see in the photo, is slightly ramped, so it could be rolled with good technique, but I'd advocate for the ride around trail left instead of trying to roll it. Alternatively, the landing is pretty well transitioned and has a nice runout, which makes it a nice drop to practice larger drops on. It hits pretty smoothly, if you are comfortable, but you will get a bit of speed if you do that, so be careful if you are newer to larger drops.
The trail will S-turn a bit more through some berms and a few chunky segments, a few of which have little kickers like you can see in the above photo (looking back up the trail). They aren't mandatory by any means, but worth noting because some of them could be higher consequence if you hit them wrong.
After a short bit, you'll come up on this rock slab with a berm at the end of it. The slab has some rock steps on the other side, they shouldn't be too intimidating for anyone familiar with riding Pisgah, but they do come up kindof quick and are fairly steep, so stay on your guard if you aren't used to Pisgah riding.
After the slab above, you'll run through a short bit of eroded chunky trail, more typical of Pisgah, before you reach a 4 way intersection with Buckwheat/Club/Avery/Black, which is pretty easily seen with the log benches that have each trail name carved into them:
At this point, Black Mountain ends and picks up one of the other three trails.
The typical way of accessing this trail is to climb Clawhammer Rd up to the intersection with Black, then go left up the staircase on Black. The climb from here gets a bit narrow and technical, it goes on for a while (1.9miles, 500ft of climbing) with some technical sections. We'll cover that in another writeup, but there are two peaks on this. The first starts with a rock overlook on the left, where it briefly drops down through some rocky bits, then climbs up a fairly steep, but smooth climb to the peak we discuss in this writeup.
The other option is to shuttle up to Club Gap, climb it, and push up this segment of Black to the top, essentially making this segment an out and back. You still end up with ~800ft of climbing that way, but you avoid the gravel grind up Clawhammer Rd. Just be mindful of those coming down Black as you push up it.