By Vernon Felton
An RV rolls off Cascade Lake Road and wallows to a stop at the Corn Mill Shoals parking lot on the west side of Dupont State Forest. The license plate reads Florida and the rig is loaded with mountain bikes. About five riders jump out and gear up for a ride. At four o'clock in the afternoon, the lot is beginning to swell with such rigs—many of them also bearing similarly-distant plates. Welcome to Western North Carolina: one of the best places in America to ride a bike.
Chances are you've heard all this before…something about the Blue Ridge Mountains, great barbecue and awesome singletrack. Well, we're going to beat you over the heads a bit more with that angle because, believe you me, the trails around Brevard, North Carolina are, if anything, woefully under-hyped.
For the past two weeks, we've been testing 25 of 2012's most promising mountain bikes here in Brevard. While these bikes are pretty amazing, in and of themselves, we'd have been content riding Huffy unicycles if it meant getting out on the trails here in the mountains of North Carolina. Yes, they are that good.
We'll go into greater depth about the trails in our upcoming Bible of Bike Tests issue (due on the newsstands in January), but here's a quick snapshot of where we've been riding.
DuPont State Forest
There's close to a 100 miles of trail here in DuPont State Forest (this includes fireroads). While there is definitely technical terrain to be ridden here, DuPont is also remarkably beginner-friendly. Added bonus? Some slickrock sections (which spares you the expense of hauling your carcass to Moab or Gooseberry Mesa) and jaw-dropping views of the mountains in this neck of the woods. We tested our XC and Trail bikes here.
Pisgah National Forest
Where exactly do you start when trying to describe Pisgah National Forest. Well, for starters, it's big. No, wait, make that huge. We've heard countless estimates of just how much singletrack is open to mountain bikes—anywhere from 200 to 1,000 miles of the stuff—but let's put it this way, we've yet to run into any of the lifers around here who've ridden it all. When you consider just how burly and tough the riders are out here, that's saying a hell of a lot.
With this much singletrack to be had, there are certainly a wide range of trails in Pisgah. That said, Pisgah's brutal rock gardens and endless valley-to-ridge climbs make it better suited to more advanced riders. We loved it. Technical challenges, jaw-dropping beauty, ornery boulder fields and all. Our only regret? Not having more time to ride it all. Pisgah is where we tested our All Mountain bikes.
That's it for now—gotta get back to writing the reviews.
Look on btrails.com in the near future, for specific trail guides and check out the feature story on Brevard and its riding in the upcoming Bible of Bike Tests issue.
By Vernon Felton