At Couch Mountain, we believe it’s important to be a part of the nature around us, which is why we promote sustainable living communities, like the homesites at Couch Mountain. A big part of being involved with the environment around us is really just getting outside. One of our favorite outdoor activities here in Asheville is mountain biking. Asheville is a mountain biking mecca for a reason: we’ve got the perfect terrain! With mountains all around and multiple massive national forests just minutes away from our homesites, there’re a plethora of beautiful, well-maintained bike trails for all experience levels.
So, whether you’re planning on becoming a resident at Couch Mountain, or you’re just interested in doing some mountain biking near Asheville, here are our top 5 rides in the area, picked by our staff, Asheville residents themselves. Check ‘em out, decide which you’d like to hit first, and get out there! We promise they won’t disappoint.
#1 Warren Wilson
If you’re a resident at Couch Mountain, you can’t beat the trail access you’ll have to the Warren Wilson Trails. The Couch Mountain trails tie right into the trails of Warren Wilson College, which means you can string together a great ride starting right from your home. While not all of the trails allow bike access, a great majority of them do, and you can double check your route before you go with this handy trail guide. If you plan to ride through Warren Wilson, expect a relatively flat ride, with a few inclines, and well-maintained trails. You won’t see anything too extreme here, but the area is beautiful, with gorgeous views of the mountains in the background, and a difficulty level perfect for your daily exercise ride.
#2 Pisgah Ranger District
If you’re looking for a place with a wide variety of trail options, you can’t beat the Pisgah Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest. Just a short drive from downtown Asheville, we recommend you start at the Trace Ridge Trailhead. From there, you’ll have access to a complete network of trails, each with a different level of difficulty. The Fletcher Creek trail, for example, is a great challenge for beginning mountain bikers. With rolling hills, a steep descent, and a few creek crossings, there’s enough coming at you to get your adrenaline pumping, without being so difficult that you want to quit.
For the rougher riders, check out the Trace Ridge trail. A real thigh-burning ascent littered with rocks and roots gets your heart pumping before you finally hit a grin-worthy descent. The bonus of this mountain biking area is that all of the trails are connected by a closed gravel road called Never Ending Road. So, you can opt to just check out one of the 1-2 hour trails, or you can loop a few together for a longer ride.
#3 Shope Creek
Located in another part of the Pisgah National Forest, the trails near Shope Creek make for an excellent bike ride. Another bonus for Couch Mountain residents, Shope Creek is only 5 miles from your home! So bike or drive right on over for some challenging, but beautiful rides.
Shope Creek was only recently opened to the public, following a logging extraction project that provided an area for public parking. Since this is a newer area for the public, not all of the trails are considered official, and they won’t be as well marked as other mountain biking sites. That being said, this is a relatively small area, about 1700 acres, which makes it a little harder to get lost. Check out a map of both their official and unofficial trails, and get a bit more information on what to expect from the ride with this write-up on the Shope Creek trail area.
If you’re only doing one ride during your time in Asheville, then this is the trail you should hit. Featuring a wicked 14 switchback climb, followed by a legendary and gratifying 3-mile descent to the Old Fort Picnic area, the Kitsuma trail is a ride for the mountaineers. The ascent alone is a major undertaking reserved for serious riders. Those unending switchbacks will kill your legs until you reach a sneaky false downhill that just turns into another steep, though short, climb.
When you finally get to the descent, you’ll realize your ride was worth it. It’s a ripping 3 miles of sheer speed, combined with gorgeous views of the mountains surrounding you. You’ll run into water bars, drops, berms, and doubles, not to mention all kinds of roots. Watch out, especially on the descent to make sure they don’t throw your wheel off in some of the tighter areas of the trail. Though technical, this is a mountain biker’s dream trail, and with the views you’ll get of Mt Mitchell (the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi), it’s a ride that can’t be beaten.
Rated one of the top 10 places in the US to mountain bike, the Tsali Recreation Area has four excellent loops, giving you nearly 40 miles of bikeable trail to explore. If you’re just getting into mountain biking, but want a longer ride, this is certainly your destination of choice. The trails at Tsali are popular, and ridden often, which means hard-packed single trails that are well maintained. Do note that the trails alternate between mountain bikers and horseback riders on different days, so even though two will always be open to bikers, if you wanted to check out a specific trail, you’ll need to plan in advance to make sure it’s open to mountain bikers on the day you arrive. For views and fast rides, you can’t beat any of the trails at Tsali. The area itself is a peninsula that juts into Fontana Lake at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains, a view you won’t find anywhere else. Make sure to stop at one of the trail overlooks to take it all in.
We hope you check out at least one these Asheville mountain biking trails because we think they’re all awesome! And if you’re wondering about the Couch Mountain community, feel free to check out our website, give us a call at (866) 936-5263, or request more information online today!