Photo Essay: Assault on Pisgah
To escape the harsh Colorado winter, earlier this month a few of us decided to make the long trip across the country to visit Brevard and scout out possible route combinations while getting our fix of riding. With only a few days on the trails, we decided to focus on the Pisgah side of Brevard, as we’ll typically spend three days of each four day trip riding there (the other day spent in Dupont State Forest).
Pisgah National Forest covers a huge area, but for our Chasing Epic trips we’ll usually focus on the trails within 20 minutes of Brevard proper. We’ve said it many times, but the trails in Pisgah are intense: lots of roots, rocks, techy steeps, and more than a few features that will challenge the best riders. That said, we also think they’re SO MUCH FUN. The riding in Pisgah (and Dupont) is so different than anything we cover out west, which makes it a perfect addition this year to the Chasing Epic family. Here are some of our favorite trails:
Spencer Gap to Fletcher Creek
Located just outside of Brevard in Mills River, Spencer-Fletcher is usually ridden in combination with Trace Ridge (see the next summary). Spencer Gap starts from a saddle high above the starting point and not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway; from here, you get a long 4+ mile descent (with a couple short pedally sections mixed in). It starts as a smooth flow trail with kickers, a few rocky sections, and some great switchbacks. This combination is a great first descent to start off a long 20+ mile day.
Typically done as the second half of the ride with Spencer-Fletcher, Trace Ridge is one of our favorite descents anywhere. It requires a 30-40 minute climb from the bottom of Fletcher, but it’s so worth it. The upper portion has lots of rock gardens and technical sections to keep you on your toes, and the bottom half gets fast and rowdy. To us, it’s the perfect Pisgah descent.
Possibly the ultimate Brevard test piece, Bennett Gap makes you bring your A-game for the full 3-mile descent. It gets rowdy with rock drops and huge rock gardens, has amazing high-speed rooty sections, and finishes along the creek with some flow for good measure. Being in a temperate rain forest, Bennett Gap is almost always damp or wet, so make sure you’re well aware of the conditions… wet roots take a while to get used to!
Lower Black and Sycamore
By now you’re likely asking if everything in Pisgah is super technical and rocky. And here’s where we show you the flow trails, and get your mouth watering with Lower Black and Sycamore. Lower Black is the trail you’ll want to lap all day long… and if time (and energy) allows, we’re up for it! It’s tough to describe how much fun these two trails are, but by listening to the whoops and hollering on the way down, you won’t be disappointed.
Daniel Ridge reminds us a lot of Trace Ridge: not specifically in the type of riding itself, but by the diversity of the trail from top to bottom. It starts out as a faster “flow” trail through the forest- certainly with techy rock sections mixed in- and then after a hard left, converts into a much rockier creek-traversing trail. It’s one of our favorites and will certainly be included in the itinerary this spring!