You want to know what the best problem in the world is? We could NEVER list every world class trail within 2 hours of Johnson City! Hundreds of miles of some of the best riding blankets the mountains in every direction. While we can't list them all, below are some of the most epic to get you started.
We highly recommend using MTB Project online and on your phone when riding in our area. The free app is not only a great way to get to know your new favorite trail, but also allows you to download your routes ahead of time, read reviews, get trail conditions, and of course map your route along the way.
DuPont State Forest
Easily one of our favorite places to ride...EVER, these routes include some of the best DuPont has to offer. You'll have to work at it with the climbs throughout, however the world class views and leg burning elevation makes it all worth it and then some...in short, you get to put miles on one of the most impressive trail systems in the states.
Read the directions and plan ahead as DuPont is full of options and multiple trailheads. These areas are so expansive even though they are clearly marked you'll be linking lots of trails together, so a solid plan and provisions need to be developed ahead of time.
The Best of Dupont This route sums up some of the best NC has to offer and ends with the Ridgeline trail, which is one of the highest rated flow trails anywhere. This nearly 20 mile full tour of the trails truly shows you why DuPont is one of the countries most visited trail networks. From techy climbs to river crossings and flowy descents and waterfalls...you'll see it all.
Ridgeline A shorter option that gets straight to the point of DuPont! You'll climb your way up Jim Branch and flow your way along Hooker Creek before you plunge back to the trailhead down Ridgeline. It's a great way to introduce yourself to DuPont.
Big Rock Loops Burnt Mountain, Big Rock and Cedar Rock into a challenging (and rocky!) figure eight that challenges as much as it rewards. Take your iconic pic with 360* views at the Big Rock/Cedar Rock trail crossing and prepare for a truly unique trip to the bottom.
Pisgah National Forest
How could we possibly sum up one of the highest-rated mountain bike trail destinations in the US in one trail (turns out...we can't)???? You could spend a week riding trails here and still have a cheesy grin on your face...with miles left to ride. But if you are looking for "the Pisgah experience" filled with some serious challenges, you have to check these epic routes off your list.
Kitsuma This is a classic must-ride Pisgah loop that features a challenging 12+ switchback climb with a backdrop of Mount Mitchell (the tallest mountain East of the Mississippi) views and an awesome 3 mile descent containing gravity defying water-bars, flowy sections, and some steep rocky areas that are the signature of the Pisgah experience.
Bennett Gap A 3.5 mile gravel road climb from the Horse Stables takes riders to the start of the Bennett Gap #11 downhill. After nearly 3.5 miles of climbing, you'll enjoy your just reward! The descent is technical and fun, and will leave you breathless at the end.
Turkeypen This ride includes some of the more technically challenging terrain in the South Mills River area. It includes all of Squirrel Gap Trail (#147), the infamous hike-a-bike over Black Mountain with spectacular viewpoints, and it finishes with the high-speed technical descent down Turkeypen Gap Trail (#322).
Black Mountain If you're looking for a taste of Pisgah without biting off a full day of extremely technical singletrack, this ride features the Black Mountain trail downhill in its entirety with a tough climb up Clawhammer Road.
Farlow Gap This is probably the best way to access Farlow Gap Trail. A steep climb on gravel roads and doubletrack brings you to the trailhead of Farlow Gap Trail. As everyone knows, this trail is no joke. The rider is subjected to loose rocks, roots, and huge drops on a very steep grade that doesn't let up. After a tough hike-a-bike, the trail mellows out slightly, with fewer drops and loose chunk. After this section you'll find Daniel Ridge Trail that will take you back to the parking lot.
Lake James State Park
While new-school in design, the trails at Lake James State Park provide a back-country experience with an open feel and solid mileage for any level of rider.
This featured ride follows all of the rideable trails at Lake James, including the beginner-rated Tindo Loops..
These trails are closed by the park staff when impacted by wet weather or freeze-thaw. If the weather in the area of the park is questionable (i.e. it has rained within 24 hours of your trip), be sure to check the trail status at the top of the Lake James State Park website before you go.
Warriors Creek (Kerr Scott)
Warrior Creek is among the most progressively-built trails at Kerr Scott. Being the third trail system to be completed at Kerr Scott (after Dark Mountain and OVT), it represents the evolution of over ten years of purpose-built MTB trailbuilding.
Along the way there are rock gardens, bridges, tons of in-sloped turns, and great lake views. Often it's more than JUST BERMS; Warrior creek also contains several "super-stacks" of berms and banked turns that are likely to provide the most memorable part of your ride.
For those seeking even more mileage, Warrior Creek can be combined with other out and back opportunities. Be sure to see the the Kerr Scott - IMBA Epic Featured Ride for more details on Warrior Creek and connecting to it from other trails.
Knoxville Urban Wilderness
Trails....in Knoxville? You bet, and they are so freaking fun! This is the shortest version of the Urban Wilderness loop in Knoxville, TN. This loop gives a taste of the over 30 miles of trails in the system. All trails are only 2-4 miles from downtown Knoxville.
The trails offer something for everyone. There are rock gardens, buff singletrack, paved greenways, and gravel doubletrack.
Bakers Creek A great ~five-mile loop that links together Cruze Valley Run (Downhill), Barn Burner (Downhill), and Devil's Racetrack Downhill for the most bang for your buck.
Tsali Left Loop and Tsali Right Loop are combined to produce this 24 mile ride. Mountain bikers have been visiting Tsali Recreation Area for years to experience all of what these trails have to offer: amazing singletrack and beautiful views of Fontana Lake and the surrounding Nantahala National Forest. Be prepared to enjoy the views for a bit...trust us on this one, it's a keeper.
Moose Branch This trail is over 8 miles when using the overlook section and ~6 without it. To loop this extra section, stay right on Mouse at the intersection then follow it back around counter clockwise. The overlook is a spectacular view of the lake and surrounding mountains, and very close to the highest point of the Mouse Loop. After snapping some photos, get ready to descend the fastest part of trail back down.
Flag Rock, in nearby Norton Virginia, has a nice mixture of old-style backcountry with more relaxed, flowing riding in the newer section. There are new trails being added to Flag Rock all the time, and while some of the trails are marked, it helps to have plan your route ahead of time to make sure you don't pass up anything while on the Forest Service roads. Again, this system is a work in progress and expect some changes in routing and some trail additions in the future.
REEB Cycles was founded in 2011 by some folks at Oskar Blues Brewery who eat, breathe, and sweat bikes. The Ranch was dreamt up in 2014 to compliment the “beers n’ bikes” culture and give the REEB bicycles a place to roam. Cabin rental (and tent sites), a bike park, and of course beer all within riding distance of DuPont and Pisgah. We put this under "day trips" because it's so close to home, but you owe it to yourself to spend the weekend...or the week.......or maybe the month.
This is a new trail system built by Trail Dynamics, sponsored by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. It has excellent flow and most switchbacks are bermed to keep speed and momentum with super radius and curvatures.
Most trails are easy to intermediate with one "Advanced" segment.
This loop, as seen on the elevation graph, begins on Tinker's Dream and is almost entirely up for the first half on Lazy Elk and Spearfinger. Followed by a fun descent that starts on the northern half of Spearfinger onto Uktena and back to Tinker's Dream.
Just outside of Asheville, Bent Creek has a ton of trails to offer...this route is the SORBA beginners loop that has everything a beginner rider needs to be introduced to, such as roots, rocks, off-camber, jumps, berms, and creek crossings. A great place to progress your skills, and of course hit up all that Asheville has to offer on the way home!
Green's Lick The ride starts with a fun, speedy downhill jump line on Deer Lake Lodge as a nice warm-up for the 1000+ foot, rocky, four mile ascent up Wolf Branch and Ingles Field Gap. After another mile, climb up Northern Boundary you'll reach the top (3300ft) at the start of Green's Lick. Two mile descent down Green's Lick leads to a short climb up Sidehill and Little Hickory Top. A five mile descent down Ingles Field Gap, Wolf Branch, and Hard Times Connector leads you back to the parking lot to end the ride.
Steep, technical and remote. Located on the North Carolina, Tennessee border this is a true gem that is starting to get more recognition as a riding destination for mountain bikers from the Knoxville, Tn and Asheville, NC looking for a more remote trail experience. A mix of mostly steep, narrow singletrack that hangs on the side of the mountain with a more technical mix of rock strewn trail on the east side of Lone Pine Gap. Highly recommended for more experienced riders who love true old style, rugged singletrack.
Understand this is a remote area and the trails are extremely rugged but super fun for the experienced rider who enjoys steep, rugged trails with lots of rock and root features.